Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lessons Learned

While the last couple of weeks have been difficult, I have also learned some valuable lessons. I know that we grow the most when we are challenged - and I have definitely been challenged.

As much as I wanted to summon "Chicken Little," crawl under my covers, and proclaim, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling," - I knew that would not do any good. Plus no one would hear me. I live alone after all!

Instead I got out of bed each morning, put one foot in front of the other, and started working on re-shaping my life into the kind of life that would be more fulfilling. The kind of life that would make me more happy. I called my mom every day for a daily dose of her 'you can do this' medicine, and picked the pieces up and put my life back together.

These are some of the lessons I have learned, which I would like to share with you. Maybe some day you will find yourself in a similar position - although I hope that is not the case. Plus, it will be helpful for me to have them written down so I can come back to this post and read these lessons when I am questioning whether I have made the right decision.

Here is what I have learned over the last few weeks:

1. It's not all about the Benjamins. Puff Daddy, you wrote a clever song, but I do not agree. Life is not all about money. I made a very healthy salary at my previous job, but I had no life. I did not see my friends very often. I did not call my mom and dad very often. I did not even really have time to spend the money I was making. I will be taking a sizable pay cut when I go back to my former employer - but I am regaining my life. And my sanity. And my happiness. And you can not put a price tag on those things!

2. What you do does not define you. Just as it is dangerous to place your worth in your relationship status, it is also dangerous to place your worth in your job. Because jobs can come and go. And while it is important to find a job that challenges you and is satisfying, it's not the only thing or even the main thing that should define you. We are are so much more than the jobs we do. People will not love me more or less based on what I do for a living - and if they do, they are not the kind of people I should have in my life.

3. Never burn bridges. I really learned the value of this lesson. I was able to secure a position at my former employer because of the connections I maintained after leaving the company. I am actually returning to a department that I left 3 years ago. Over the last 3 years, I have maintained the relationships with my managers; now I am reaping the benefits of the relationships I have fostered.

Have you ever gone through something similar - an experience that is very difficult but teaches you so much about yourself? What lessons did you learn?


Kelly said...

I'm glad you learned all these important lessons. I think I made a decision that life was not all about the money back when I decided to be a teacher- but its good to have a reminder sometimes because at times when you are NOT making the money you are thinking, crap it is all about the benjamins!

I think you are right that work can consume us but it really shouldn't. It's just our job, it's not our life and thats why we should not be working every minute of the day. We should have time to enjoy life. Some days I really wish we were more like Europe where they take serious lunch breaks and whole months of vacations at a time. I personally don't care if our country is powerful, I'd rather live a good life. This is why my kids get so much recess time :)

Charbelle said...

On don't burn bridges, this is SO true!! When I left my first "real" job to go be a bridal consultant at an opening bridal store I stayed in contact with the first job, that happened to be a staffing agency. So when the consultant gig didn't work out they placed me at an insurance company, and 7 years later I'm still working in insurance. I also still go back to the bridal store and help out when they need an extra body in the store.
Isn't it interesting that when things are going SO badly we call our parents less. That's when we need them the most but it's just too hard to talk about things!
So happy that you are able to start this new chapter and you never know what door will open next!

Emily Jane said...

I am so with you!! Did I ever tell you the story of when I worked in a plastic surgery clinic? I was making great money... for the THREE DAYS I lasted! It was totally not for me, I couldn't really feel okay with promoting the idea that you had to change yourself in order to be beautiful - so I quit, with no notice, no money, and my roommate had just moved out... but I just couldn't do it. Sometimes even if it means being hard up and a bit poorer, it doesn't matter, as long as you find somewhere that makes you happy :)

Jess said...

Great lessons and I completely agree with all of them! A few years ago, I decided to take a year off school, get a job and safe some money. I got paid quite well, had weekends off and I really thought a break from school would be a nice change. Suffice it to say, the money and the weekends off weren't worth it when I had to work 12-15 hours a day, get constantly yelled at by my boss, etc. etc. I ended up quitting and going back to school early. I hadn't saved as much as I hoped, but I was a thousand times happier getting out of that place. I could also tell you a few stories about the law firm I used to work those for another day.

All this to say: I'm so glad you're feeling better and moving back to a place where you have already established relationships and you know is a healthy environment for you.

Nicole said...

I wish you could come talk to all the students I'm in classes with right now. All of the undergrads are trying to fit the cookie-cutter mold of each other. They all think they have to work for a Big-4 accounting firm, make a ton of money, work in a big city, and try to reach the highest level possible. As I've tried to tell them, "Some people live to work. I want to work to live." My work will not be my life. My work will be the means of funding my having a life. Way to go!

Becky said...

I agree whole-heartedly with all of those!!!

Abby said...

I am so glad you are able to look back on this, and take it as a learning and life-shaping experience! And I'm glad you are able to define the big things you've learned--but it definitely passed wisdom to others!

That is very true about not letting a career define you...or letting anything outside of yourself/character define you! We can sometimes get wrapped up thing "things" very easily!

Nora said...

Separation of work & life: so important. One I struggle with constantly but I'm getting there, getting better at it.

I've been through a few rough patches and odd situations here and there in my life, some pertaining to work, others to school, others still to my personal life. I've reminded myself the importance of being patience, of believing that there is some sort of plan for me even if I don't know what it is, killing them with kindness, and the importance of friends and family.

Have I told you lately how excited for you/proud I am of you? =)

Leigh said...

I agree with everything you said. Money is always nice to have and to be earning, but at the end of the day if you don't have time for the things you love to do or want to do, it's not worth it.

So happy for you in that you are returning to a job/position/company you love and will make you happy.

Lauren/Lo/Sassy said...

Great tips, Lisa! It's always a good reminder that the job is not who we are (sometimes hard to believe however) and that it's not about how much $ you make. Sounds like this was a great decision for you! And awesome to have your life back, eh?!

J said...

I work with tons of ppl who have their job rule their life. They spend so much time at work and I just think it is insane. I work the regular 8-9 hours a day and every day i cant wait to go home and play. Now i really do like my job but I always want to be doing other things. Sometimes I have to work more to get the job done but i just think too many of my co-workers care too much about their job. Its frustrating sometimes becuase I have a life outside of work. I work to live, not live to work!

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

I'm so proud of you! You rocked this transition - so many people WOULD HAVE been Chicken Little! But not you!!

I think these are all great lessons, the money one especially. As you know I am not overly happy with the salary that I will be getting come June. BUT I will only be working 30 hour weeks and getting compensated for my overtime so I CAN have a life. I need to remember the value in that!

Have a great day love! XO

I'maNolaGirl said...

What great lesson to pass on!!!!!!!!

Lisa-Marie said...

I think getting a good balance in your life is worth more than any amount of money really.

When I first moved in with Dave, I left uni (needed the brek for a few reasons) and started working in a care home(which I'd done before uni).
It was badly run, with little care for the residents, or respect for the staff. The went against care regulations often too.

I worked there for a month, and couldn't stand it - they didn't allow me to give the residents the basic level of care they needed. I actually left and was therefore unemployed(I also reported them to the Care Commission, and the lace has since improved). Things were very tight for Dave and I, but what I learned is that I can't personally treat people with less respect than they deserve, and that if the choice is money or my own morals and principles, I'd rather be poor.

Sarah said...

I think that these are huge life lessons, and like you said, ones that we all need to be taught/reminded of throughout our lives. It's so true to remember that money is not the most important thing, that sometimes the cost of money is too expensive.

I'm really happy for you, and full of respect for you that you took the heat for so long - you did your best - and when that didn't work out you were brave enough to recognise it and DO something about it. That's really inspiring to me. You didn't just moan, or wait til you got fired. You didn't go all passive-aggressive. You took action. That's huge.

Also, not burning bridges is a lesson I'm learning from you. I have a problem, not with burning bridges deliberately, but with losing touch with people. You never think you'll have/want to go back, but you never know, do you?

Thank you for this post. I've really missed your personality in my reader!

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

I could have written this myself! Seriously! About 10 years ago, I opted to leave my job because it was sucking my life away (and paying me grandly to do so). I took a job with less professional job growth because I wanted the balance of having a life outside work. I've been with this job for 10 years and couldn't be happier!

Marlys said...

Lisa, I am so proud to be your Mom! You did not deserve to be treated the way you were at that "place"! I was so worried about you, but now feel so much better and know you are headed in the right direction! We should never worry about how people judge us, but only live up to the ideals that are important to us - faith, family, good friends & peace! Braveo, my Sweetheart!

Mandy said...

I am so proud of you. We've talked about this, you cannot put a price on happiness, which I think is something that most of us want to embrace as we get older. I am sorry that you had to learn these lessons the way you did, but you totally made the right decision. There are always trade offs, but your emotional well being and having some balance is so worth it. Big hugs!

Kyla Roma said...

These are all wonderful lessons. I think the biggest one I learned out of my really bad employment situation last year was that I'm not defined by what I do. I ended up diving into blogging, crafting, and cooking to cope with everything that was going on and they helped me so much, and just left my life feeling more rich. It drove home how important my support networks are too.

I'm glad that you left your bridges in tact and that you have a beautiful summer set out before you =)

Ally said...

I agree wholeheartedly with these lessons you've learned. I remember hearing once that in Great Britain it's much more common that someone's first getting-to-know-you question is "Where are you from?" as opposed to the American standard, "What do you do?" I wish we would go with "where are you from" instead.

(I found you through Nilsa's Replay post.)

Lo said...

You are right on with the lessons learned. It really sucks when you burn a bridge and have to go back to that person afterwards for anything. Not Cool!!!

Anais said...

Those are some great lessons, so thanks for sharing them!

It's great that you'll be back to working with people you enjoyed! I think the "don't burn your bridges" one is a really great tip though, and one that can easily be forgotten!