Long Hours

When I lived in California, I worked with Shelly, who has been the inspiration for some of my other posts.  One night at the bar, she told me she thought that I had a horrible work ethic.  I’ve never quite been able to forgive her for this.

I’ve mentioned my old job on here a couple times – most notably when I felt the giant rush of relief when I realized I could support myself and pay for school if things got too bad.  I hated that job, but I don’t think it was my work ethic that was the problem.  There was literally no work for me to do, and that frustrated me more than anything.  By the end, when I was grinding through my last semester of grad school, my motivation at work had dropped to zero, so I stopped even seeking out additional tasks.

Truthfully, when I got my new job, I worried that Shelly was right.  That, either out of habit or because of a deep ingrained laziness or just due to a lack of intelligence, I would fail to perform.

I still worried after the first few months.  When you’re working with complex systems, different parts of which require some specialized knowledge in multiple different technical disciplines, it takes a while to come up to speed.  What’s more, my group is filled with people who are close to or past retirement age, people who have been working in this industry literally longer than I’ve been alive.  That kind of gap is insurmountable.

I lucked out, though, because all of my coworkers have been willing to teach me and have been very encouraging even when I just can’t grasp a concept.  My boss assigned me to a bunch of projects where I’ll be able to learn and grow.

And I work. Hard.

I’ve woken up at 4am to get in for activities at 5am, staying at work for 12 hours straight because after the last meeting of the day, I want to go back to my desk and finish working on one task or another.  I’ve discovered that I hate leaving projects unfinished.  I’ve discovered that I actually have a really great work ethic.  And I think maybe in 30 years I’ll be the one with the insurmountable advantage of experience.

… Also, I think I should not be friends with Shelly anymore.  She’s kind of a bitch.


7 Responses

  1. Agreed. Stop talking to friends who give you negative energy and vibes.

    I’m the same way — getting up early, eager to get to work, learning more. It’s the joy of having a job you love!

    I too, hate missing deadlines and not getting stuff done.

  2. Ha! Agreed. Some people are just so negative!

  3. You’re probably right – Shelly’s probably not really keeper-friend material. You really don’t need someone who makes you feel iffy about yourself.

    I used to wonder if I’d lost it after 9 months of not working, but it turns out that I’m back to the usual “I’ve got a job and here I am to do it!”-ness. On the other hand, I’m actively working on not being such a workaholic either. Balance is good.

  4. I went through a similar period of angst about my work ethic. Wasn’t learning, wasn’t setting goals, wasn’t turning out work that I was proud of. It turns out that I just really, really disliked the industry I was in (not to mention the company that I worked for). I thought I was being a big girl by grinning and bearing it. Soldiering on with gritted teeth and angry eyebrows may work on a day-to-day level, but it’s a stupid way to live year after year–I turned the “sunk cost” of the time I’d spent in that field into the only reason I had to stay there. I finally made a career switch and got my groove back.

    All that “do what you love” and “follow your passion” advice actually makes sense now.

  5. Definitely – ditch the negatives, keep the keepers.

    Maybe based on her view – ie what she saw and knew of your work habits – the zero workload, the low motivation – it was justified.

    I’m kind of the same – at least half the week, for most of the day, unless something big happens newswise, I literally have nothing to occupy myself with.

  6. […] my 2010 goals was to get an above-average review at the end of this year, and most importantly, to exceed my own expectations of my performance. I definitely think I’ve done the latter; I sometime marvel at how the job […]

  7. […] from the financial aspects, I feel like I started to come into my own a little bit. I’m finding my place at work, and I feel as though I’ve found something that I would love to do for the rest of my life. I […]

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