Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Commitment Conundrum

Getting halfway decent at my job is one of the hardest things I've ever done. Right up there with actually finishing undergrad without losing it, writing my thesis and quitting smoking.

When I was not much younger than I am now, I really struggled to feel as if I could ever put together anything more than a well-crafted memo, and I wondered whether public policy was a good career choice for me. The past three years at my job have tormented me, broken me down, aged me, made me fat and thin and shaken my confidence in my intellect to my core. On the other hand, the past year has given me a sense of mastery that I've yearned for since finishing high school, and the stress has led me to a meditation and yoga practice that is good for me no matter what the circumstances.

So, while I think I can say that I finally feel mostly competent at my job, I'm frustrated and unsure of what to do next. Unfortunately, whether by ingrained habit or fundamental nature, my tendency to think globally instead of linearly, to cast a wide net instead of mastering a contained set of principles, my allergy to incrementalism, this is my occupational Achilles' heel, and I'm stuck where I am in my organization until I change. However, I sincerely question whether that is possible to the degree it is expected of me. Absolutely no one has been able to help me crack this nut, not least of all myself. Some of the tools that worked to get me through calculus -- X-files, practicing smoke rings-- are no longer viable rewards. Given the value my office places on this ability, it begs the question of whether I ought to move on, because I would like to make more money, and the set of skills I've already amassed might work fine somewhere else. I also feel like I should be further along in my career by now, and I could be managing people in a different environment. I think that in a lot of ways I have good boss skills, and that I'll be a better team leader than a grunt. And as always, I try not to despair at how much I struggle with project and time management.

This nexus of competence and frustration is where wanderlust and commitment come to do battle.

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