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Archives for : September2011

The Balancing Act

Have you ever watched one of those movies where the dad misses his kid’s big game or school play because he had to work late on some project at work? Something dramatic happens, and only after nearly losing his family does he finally realize that his work life and personal life are out of balance? Of course you have, there’s a hundred of those movies!

As a kid, you watch those movies and tell yourself “I’ll never make that mistake.” Well I’m not a dad… in fact, I’m probably more like that kid… but here I am, staring down the path in front of me… and I don’t like what lies ahead. Actually, I don’t really like the present either. What I mean is: I haven’t been happy at work. More specifically, I’m not digging the weekly travel, and I’m not really digging the assignment either.

I miss being home. It’s really that simple, and I probably don’t need to explain it at all. There are so many things I want to do, but always have to wait for the weekends. And then, the weekends are so short that I end up having to cut things out, leave events early, arrive to others late. Lame. I miss my family and friends and hobbies and life.

Most of the people I work with in California are pretty swell. Unfortunately, I’m not getting the opportunity to do the kind of work I really enjoy (and really excel at). Don’t get me wrong – I like a good challenge, and would normally welcome an opportunity to try something new and prove my value… but I’m past the point of feeling wasted. They spend thousands, literally THOUSANDS of dollars to fly me out here every week – and that’s just for hotel, airfare, and ground transportation – I’m not even talking about my paycheck! Am I worth it? I absolutely think so. Have my contributions to this project been proportionally great? Not so much. The client doesn’t seem to care, and neither does my employer… but for me, it’s one of the worst feelings ever.

SO, what to do about it?

Well, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. At first I thought I just needed to adjust my metric for success, and I was holding out for the 6 month mark before making any decisions or changes… but then a co-worker/friend passed away in a terrible, tragic accident. She wasn’t happy at work either… she joked that in 3 more weeks she could collect her pension and quit… but she didn’t get that satisfaction. She was a mother and a wife – the rock of her family and the glue that kept things together at work. Her cubicle is next to mine, and even though its been a few weeks since her passing, most of her personal effects are still there. Someone has laid out pictures of her and her family on her desk, serving as a daily reminder.

Everybody’s aware of how short and fragile life is, but rarely do we take heed. I’m not happy with my job, and I miss being home… so this is me taking control. I’m not giving up on consulting, because many aspects of it are still appealing to me. But obviously, something needs to change.

I told my client and the firm that I don’t want to travel more than 50%. The more I think about it, working half time for half the salary actually sounds ideal to me. It would be more than enough for me to live on, and just imagine all the things I could with my time (there’d be SO MUCH TIME for activities!). However, we’ve agreed that I will work 50% on site and 50% remotely. It won’t take effect immediately (the client is significantly short-handed), and I don’t know what the schedule will be yet (two weeks on, two off? Biweekly travel?). With any luck, we’ll have it sorted out by Thanksgiving, and my life will be enjoyable again :)

I pointed out to the client that this sort of change would mean a redefinition of my role there. My hope is that my directives will become more problem-focused and less… boringmeta-work… managerial.

Working at home will still be working, but the evenings will be all mine. I’ve already been considering some of the things I want to do…

  • Time with family
  • Time with friends (especially those whom I’ve neglected)
  • Piano lessons
  • Tagalog lessons
  • Regular exercise (when’s the next 5k?)
  • Reading (yes, I’m serious (book club anyone? (yeah, still serious)))
  • Cooking
  • Be a dinosaur
  • Hobbies
  • ……
  • Also, maybe I’ll get a cat


And maybe this Spring I can even start taking some psych or engineering classes… or apply to WSU’s College of Education (think I can get a scholarship??).


The world is my oyster! NOW… who’s ready for more dom?