Hurricane Nate blew through our area last night. It’s early Sunday morning and I am currently without internet access (writing in a word document), sipping some coffee in my PJs. I was really hoping to watch the coverage of the storm and of the Chicago marathon this morning, but our TV is through the internet and so, I can’t do either of those things. Daniel had to go to work this morning (apparently people don’t stop being sick because there is a storm … go figure). I was worried that he would have trouble getting to the hospital, but thankfully he made it there safely. Brooksy and I have been out to play fetch and he’s settled in for his morning nap. I figured this would be a good chance to catch up on life!
Edited to add: if you are reading this, we are back in business! Haha.
Work has been a little bit crazy lately. I haven’t gotten too much into the details of all of that on the blog. I really want to be completely transparent and able to share the things that are going on in my life, but at the same time, these things affect more people than just myself and it’s not always fair to share the details. Honestly this frustrates me, because when I first started the blog, I wanted it to be as much about the ups and downs of real life as possible and now I feel like I can’t really write about some of the things that I want to and so I basically just stick to running. Not that I am complaining about that! I can talk about running A LOT, as I’m sure you’ve noticed.
Where does that leave us? Oh yes … work. Over the last several years, I have been struggling with the idea of my career choice. I’m sure you know, but in case there is anyone new, I am a CPA and I work in public accounting. Basically I prepare business and personal tax returns. I don’t dislike what I do, but at the same time, I’m not passionate about what I do. I’ve never actually met anyone who is passionate about taxes, so I don’t guess I am alone in this feeling. When I started out in this profession, I kind of just assumed that my goal would be to work my way up and make partner. I don’t even think I gave it much thought, that was just the path that most people took and it sounded respectable, so why not?
Ugh. I wish that I could go back and talk some sense into my twenty year old self. I guess that’s the funny thing about life something though. I don’t think my twenty year old self would’ve listened. I’m a completely different person than I was then and there is no way that I could’ve known what I know now. After several years in public accounting, it became very apparent to be that I didn’t want to be a partner at a firm. I saw lots of unhappy people working tons of hours, but not truly enjoying life. I didn’t want to be one of those people and I knew that I could’ve EASILY have become one of those people. My personality is wired to throw myself 100% into something at the expense of … well, basically everything else in my life. I didn’t (and still don’t) want that for my life.
I do think that I have been able to establish a tiny semblance of balance in my professional life at this point. I have learned to set boundaries and to speak up for myself when I am in a situation that isn’t right. I’m not saying that I have this completely dialed in by any means, but I am much more confident in myself in general and in my professional abilities than I used to be. Some of this just came naturally with time. When you’ve been doing something for 9+ years, you have more leverage than someone fresh out of school. I have basically been able to say, I will work X number of hours, but nothing more. This has helped me tremendously. You can’t work 70 hours per week (doing something that you aren’t passionate about) and have a happy life.
I started a new job this summer and right off the bat, I was hit smack in the face with the number of hours I was willing to do and what my boss expected me to do (which in my defense, was not communicated to me in my interview). We worked through this and for the most part I have held my ground. I feel torn sometimes because I hate feeling like I am not doing what is expected of or needed from me. There are certain situations where I am still willing to work extra, especially if we are up against a deadline (as we are currently).
The point I was originally trying to get to was that I *may* have an opportunity to switch out of public accounting altogether (finally!) and try something new … teaching! This is something that I have (in the back of my mind) thought about for years. I am planning to pursue it on a very part-time basis (i.e., teaching one class) over the next year and then, I guess we’ll see. I’m excited and nervous about it at the same time, but I think that is completely normal. I’ve said this before, but growth occurs outside of our comfort zones. This will definitely be a period of growth and I’m excited to see how it works out.
Let’s talk about Girls on the Run! I am currently coaching a GOTR group at a local elementary school. We meet for an hour and a half Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Not to bring work up again, but my boss was very understanding and totally cool with me leaving to go do this (I have to make the time up, but still) … hopefully he’ll be equally as understanding and cool with me leaving to go teach. Fingers crossed. Maybe he’ll find this blog and it’ll tell him for me. Ha. Each week at GOTR, the girls have a snack, we discuss our lesson for the day, we do a warm up activity and then they set a lap goal for themselves and RUN. They absolutely love it, which makes my runner heart want to explode a little bit. On Tuesday we talked about our emotions, both comfortable and uncomfortable (as opposed to good or bad … because there are no “bad” emotions). I feel like I am learning so much from these lessons. Perhaps that means I am on a fifth grade level emotionally? Things that make you go, “Hmm.” LOL!
On Thursday we talked about how to express our emotions, using the four phrases 1) I feel, 2) when you, 3) because and 4) I would like for you to. It has taken me many years to learn the importance of expressing emotions, rather than keeping them inside. Heck, a lot of the time I still struggle with this! Expressing your emotions clearly helps others to understand how you are feeling and how they can help you. Each of the four phrases has a purpose. “I feel” lets the other person know exactly how you feel, “when you” tells the other person the exact behavior that makes you feel a certain way, “because” gives the other person a better understanding of why you feel that way and “I would like for you to” explains to the other person what you would like for them to continue to do or to do differently.
Just for funsies, I will do a comfortable and uncomfortable workplace example. I might say to a coworker, “I feel hopeful when we discuss our ideas for making our processes more efficient because I can tell that we are on the same page and care about the direction of the firm. I would like for you to always come to me with any ideas that you may have so that we can work together to make everyone’s job easier.” I might say to my boss, “I feel frustrated when you don’t clearly communicate what is expected of me because I don’t work well in an environment without clearly defined expectations and assumptions. I would like for you be upfront with your expectations.” See how it works?! I just think these are such amazing life lessons for these girls to be learning. The GOTR curriculum is amazing!
Despite what it may seem like I was saying earlier, I actually feel way more fulfilled in my career at the moment than I have in a while and I think that GOTR is playing a part in that. I read an article recently called “The Millennial Woman’s Quest for Career Purpose: A Response to the Ambition Collision,” and it was ON POINT. Women enter the workplace filled with ambition and optimism and then, by 30 or so, we start to feel “stuck,” yearning for something “more.” We shouldn’t ditch our professional responsibilities out of indifference, but instead we can’t always look to work as the answer to the big questions that we have about life. We need to establish ourselves in such a way that we do not have only one source of validation. If you put equal emphasis on your life outside of work, you get further ahead and are more satisfied at work as well. Of course it’s all about finding that balance!
When I took my two month career hiatus a few years ago and started this blog, that’s exactly what I was doing. I had let my work become my life and at the time, the only way I saw out was to leave the job altogether (obviously that is exactly what this article advises you not to do). I was searching for purpose. In some ways, the blog has been a part of that journey to discover my purpose. I thought about leaving public accounting altogether at that point, but realized fairly quickly that a girl’s gotta eat. Here I am now, two years later, pondering some of the same thoughts. I guess the difference now is that I can recognize that work isn’t my life and I have found passion in several areas outside of work.
I still struggle with the idea of spending any of my time doing a job that I am not truly passionate about, but at the same time, I know that it’s okay, normal even, to feel this way. My job allows me to have a decent amount of flexibility, which is very nice and it allows me to make enough to pay the bills and enjoy my hobbies. I am still planning to pursue the teaching thing, I’m just not sure exactly to what extent. I am going to be teaching an undergraduate corporate tax class this spring … I mean, talk about passion! Ha. In all seriousness though, if I can continue to do some work in accounting, some teaching and have time to volunteer at things like GOTR, I will be living the dream.
Sorry for the long ramble of a post. It’s been a while since I have gotten a chance to do that. I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts on this topic. How do you find balance and passion in your life?