Balancing act: New job teaches about change, balance and, most of all, patience

Published: Monday, Sept. 26 2011 1:00 p.m. MDT

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Three weeks into my new job, I’ve learned a few things.

First, I’ve learned that change is difficult, but it’s also exciting.

I’ve had moments since starting the new gig when I’ve felt completely overwhelmed. However, I’ve also found that I’m understanding more and feeling more comfortable every day.

Regarding the latter, it helps that the people with whom I’m working have been extremely kind and helpful. I truly appreciate them.

It also helps that I am sincerely interested in learning all I can about my new job. I find my team’s projects fascinating, and I look forward to working with them to build amazing new things.

Second, I’ve learned that work/life balance is still hard to establish, but in different ways.

Since I worked at the Deseret News for such a long time, I knew everybody there, and they knew me. Over the years, I earned a level of seniority and — I hope — respect. That also gave me a bit of flexibility.

For example, I didn’t feel guilty about meeting my wife and son for lunch every now and then, even if it meant I was going to be out of the office for more than an hour, because I knew — and the people who worked with me knew — that I would more than make up for that time. In exchange for the work/life balance sacrifices of spending time on business projects during nights and weekends, I was able to grab some moments with my family during the occasional workday.

I have not yet earned that respect in my new job, and I know it will take time to do so. I have absolutely no problem with that. But it does make for an interesting change in perspective.

On the other side of the ledger, my nights and weekends are now mostly free from work, other than reading I choose to do to try to learn my job more quickly. As I’ve expressed in earlier columns, this has been great for me and for my relationship with my family. I’m sure this aspect of my job change will continue to positive, though I expect work to intrude upon some of my off hours as I get more into the flow of my new job.

All of this leads to the third — and most difficult — thing I’ve learned: I’ve got to be patient.

As a rule, I’m not a patient person.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. I feel that I am fairly patient with people at work. At least, I’ve always tried to be.

However, I’m definitely not as patient as I should be at home, although I know my wife and children are more deserving of my patience than anyone else in my life. They’re certainly patient with me. (It’s just that certain children know exactly what to do to press my buttons, you know? Perhaps some of you similarly patience-challenged parents can relate.)

I am trying to be more patient at home. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, I attempt to put any frustrations from my workday behind me before I enter the house, so I can walk through the door with a smile on my face and a positive attitude. I don't always succeed, but I am making the effort!

The person I am least patient with, however, is also the person with whom I am most familiar: myself.

For me, the hardest part of starting a new job has been the frustration of not knowing everything about it from the moment I sat down in my cubicle for the first time.

I always want to feel useful. I want to know the details of any job I’m asked to do right away, so I can get down to business and be a valuable employee.

But now I’ve embarked on an entirely different career path, and that means everything is new, from the company, the people and the technology I use to the business culture, the unique language of the company and the rhythms of my workday.

I know it’s illogical to think I could learn everything about my job in the first few weeks — and, to their credit, my employers and co-workers have been nothing but patient with me.

I remind myself over and over again that, in time, I’ll learn what I need to know. That I will understand more every day. And that, before I know it, I’ll no longer be “the new guy,” but will be someone who knows the basics and is able, every day, to get down to business.

But I can’t help it. I still want to know everything right now.

Have any of you had similar experiences as you started a new job? How did you stay patient, especially with yourself? I’d appreciate any tips you could share.

Email your comments to kratzbalancingact@gmail.com or post them online at deseretnews.com. Follow me on Twitter at gkratzbalancing and on Facebook on my journalist page.

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