You know how sometimes you don’t realize you had a good thing, until it’s gone? I’ve discovered recently that there’s a corollary to that theorem: sometimes you don’t realize how bad things are, until you get into a better situation.
Of course I’m talking about my new job, which makes me so very happy that I might not have to go on Prozac after all. (My personal life is still incredibly stressful right now, parenthood and what-not, so having a job that thrills me really helps balance out the misery.) Here’s a short history of my work morale that will help to make sense of these observations.
Way back when, in the early 90s, I had just graduated from college and got my first real job. My first job was awful, I hated it, and I shortly quit. My next job was not so great, but I found it interesting, so I worked to make it better – and it worked! My job activities, responsibilities, and relationships got a lot better, and I was very happy (although I was not fairly compensated for everything I was doing, but hell, there was a recession at the time).
Then I moved to Columbus, and had a job in civil service which was both a.) boring and b.) low-paying, with a side-dish of demeaning for extra measure. From there, I circulated through a few jobs, some civil service, some not, most for non-profits, and dealt with my share of psycho bosses and managers and VP’s. When I finally got my first real IT job, I hit my stride – loved my work, loved my co-workers, loved the regular promotions I started getting. Life was good! That was my first taste of what a big difference true job satisfaction can make in your overall life.
After we moved to Northern Virginia, it took a while to find my next “perfect” job, but find it I did, and I happily spent seven years with that company. It was my second job in software testing, but I really grew and learned a lot in those seven years, developing my skills and dramatically expanding my knowledge and experience. Things weren’t perfect, but they were close. Unfortunately, I left because the contract I was on was ending, and I didn’t want to have to work on a different project with a long commute. That’s when things went downhill. I can honestly say that since then, 2006, I haven’t been truly happy at work…until now.
After five years of working in places where the morale was in the toilet, I’m finally working at a company where people are happy, including me. My skills are being used and developed again, and I really enjoy going to work. Maybe most importantly, the work/life balance is very important at my new place, and it’s made a big difference in my stress level. Whew!
The funny thing is, I never realized the full extent of how unhappy I was at my last job, until I started this one. My last job was not challenging at all, and in fact it was pretty boring most of the time. I certainly never had to take it home with me. Some of the management were buffoons, but I was able to avoid the worst of them. And there were always the really generous benefits to comfort myself with – and generous they were, extremely generous for our industry. But while I wasn’t exactly stressed, I also wasn’t fulfilled. My brain wasn’t being challenged, and my emotional well being suffered due to the low overall morale. I think I had some inkling of this, but I kept telling myself I was getting paid an obscene amount in salary and benefits to basically sit around, so why should I complain? And that worked for a while. But now that I have a job that I truly enjoy again, I can see how wrong that was.
TL;DR: Groovymarlin took a 14% pay cut to leave her last, dismal place of employment and go to work at her shiny new one. And hasn’t regretted it for a single second.