I went through some Evernote notes while I was on lunch today, and added some tags so I would be able to sort through them easier in the future. I found one from January that I titled “Countdown to Burnout,” where I was tallying up the amount of time I had spent in each of my full-time financial aid jobs to date.
This most recent gig at UW Colleges is not the best paying or the most interesting job that I’ve had in this field. But it is probably the best fit with my employment sensibility at this stage. It has positives like extremely low (i.e., never in-person) student contact, easy-going management, and reasonable workload. As I think back to how my other financial aid gigs ended, I can point to specific markers that made me feel I had to go:
Oshkosh, Round One: I had grown tired of living so far away from Michelle, and wanted to find a job that would make my personal life a little easier.
Milwaukee: I had completely burned out in a high-stress, low-reward position with minimal opportunity for change.
Oshkosh, Round Two: While I might have been ready to be a manager on a personal/professional development level, I was not ready to succomb to financial aid as a long-term career, and had some personality conflicts at work that were extremely stressful.
I was probably disillusioned after the holidays, and thinking about how I wasn’t making any tangible progress on my thesis at the time that I wrote this note. As of today, having finished my master’s degree and feeling more like I get to be in control of how my life progresses than I have since 2002, my work situation is not as bad. Do I love it here? No. Do I want to stay long-term? Also no. Do I realize that, in the grand scheme of things, I could do a lot worse, employment-wise? Absolutely. I guess I just don’t feel as trapped in financial aid as I did before. I feel like I have qualifications that I could sell to other people, and do other things. For now, though, it’s pretty comfortable. It’s respectable work. The flames aren’t creeping over the horizon just yet.
For most of this week, I attended a training program for work down in Madison. I was able to catch a ride with an old Milwaukee colleague who lives in Sun Prairie but now works @ UW Colleges. I got to meet Michelle for lunch two days, as she had to be on campus for various things.
It was really awesome to be closer to home! I learned a number of useful things for my job during the course of the week, but one thing I found out for sure is that I need to be searching in earnest for work closer to where I live. I watched Lorch commute like a madman for so many years, I figured there must be a way to handle it for at least a little while. Turns out I am nowhere near as strong as far as this goes. I have been at this now for about 9 months, and I’ve had it.
I was talking with Michelle the other day about how part of me wishes I could go back to some point where I knew I was happy with work, and with the prospects that were ahead of me. She made a really good point: that if you figure those things out again now, and start working toward what you want today, then the future you will thank your present self for beginning to make yourself happy.
The beginning of a new school year is always a bit overwhelming in my line of work– lots of administrative headaches and last-minute requests from students who could have prepared better. But, that’s what we’re here for. It doesn’t change the fact that the days can be draining, and when you compound that with my 2.5 hours of daily commuting, I’m sort of wiped out by the time I get home.
Another problem I’ve always struggled with is a desire to have an entire project mapped out immediately, and/or be able to deliver a “finished product” in a relatively short period of time. I tend to dwell on all the things that will yield something polished and worthwhile right away, rather than making some small steps on the road of progress whenever they might come. It is often a crippling problem that stymies action altogether, which only leads to further obsession about the lack of progress.
Lifehacker had a nice post today that might make you feel better if you’re at all like me in this regard. Particularly when it seems like I’m awash in other concerns, I need to try harder to just do anything I can with all of my various side projects. I need to let some of the details slide and get ANYTHING accomplished.
Quite a bit of action on the work front this time of year, and not nearly as much at home. I have been ruminating on a few topics I’m anxious to share with you soon, up to and including a return of the podcast for the 2009-10 season.
One thing I did at home this week was to install the DD-WRT firmware on my router. It’s got a much more robust feature set than the stock firmware, and I haven’t dug into everything that it can do yet. Best thing I’ve found so far, though: support for zoneedit.com. To you, dear reader, that will mean less down time on those occasions when my IP changes and I’m not at home…
Other than that, take a look at the Milwaukee gallery for some shots I took at a baseball game with the Schrubbe boys a couple weeks ago. We had really good seats!