Sunday, January 08, 2006

Getting off the bench

Anyone who's talked with me in the past 12 months will have heard me complain about my work "woes" - the lack of challenge, not feeling needed, being just plain bored. They've probably also heard me say things were fixed several times, only to go back to me being dissatisfied a week (or less) later. While I'm pleased with my optimism in the face of overwhelming reality, I haven't been active enough in fixing the problem. I've thought ad nauseam about options and priorities and life missions, but my actions have been small and infrequent, and lacking in conviction.

Something which I've realised in the past few days is that the source of a lot of this isn't isolated incidents of management crap which I've let disillusion me and stress me out. I've been pretty busy avoiding responsibility for my mood, my career and my general life direction. My lack of interesting work has been caused largely by the following:
  • I sidelined myself from anything too demanding when I got sick 2.5 years ago, saying No to anything not essential to my team's daily work,
  • not speaking up about my dissatisfaction,
  • my fear that my ideas about how management, teamwork, processes and IT systems can be improved will seem stupid/naive,
  • my fear of overdoing things, causing my health problems to recur.
All of these are mine to control/resolve.

On Thursday, I told my boss that I am bored and lacking challenges in my current work. I'd never previously been so blunt as to say I was bored and dissatisfied, instead relying on the mind-reading abilities of my management. As a result, my boss is chasing up a couple of specific, interesting opportunities. Then on Friday I had a discussion with another senior manager, who asked if I'd be interested in being involved in re-starting an initiative which I spearheaded 5 years ago, but which has died out due to lack of involvement from me and lack of corporate funding. So I said yes to that as well.

The steps towards a Manager Forum that I wrote about in an earlier post are part of me swallowing my fear and putting my thoughts out there for others to see, to add to, change, or laugh at (or maybe applaud :) I intend to gradually rebuild my knowledge of, and involvement in, other corporate issues. I'm actually starting to feel again that I'm in control of creating the work I want, and am regaining the confidence and courage to start doing so.

I still need to maintain a careful balance, as my health remains a concern, but I think my overwork avoidance strategies will remain in place, and my exercise regime is continuing to enhance my strength and energy.