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Balancing act: After 6 months in a new job, it's still hard to be patient

Published: Monday, March 5 2012 1:00 p.m. MST

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Shortly after I started my new job last September, I wrote about the three things I had learned during those initial weeks.

Since I just hit the six-month mark in my new gig, I decided to look back at that column and see if anything had changed.

Of course it has, but not necessarily in ways I would have expected.

The first thing I mentioned learning in the previous column was that change is difficult, but also exciting.

I'm happy to report that I'm not feeling overwhelmed nearly as often as I did during those first few days after my career change. I've had some moments of clarity during which I've actually felt like I knew what I was doing, and I've been able to answer questions for people on occasion.

The projects I'm helping to manage also remain interesting to me. The more I've learned, the more convinced I am that the work my team is doing has the potential to be important, not only to our company, but also to our industry in general. That's a cool feeling, and it helps motivate me to get out of bed every morning.

It's also motivating to know that I'm working with people who are dedicated to their jobs, who are knowledgeable and skilled and who are a lot of fun, too.

I'm probably still in the "honeymoon period" with the team, but they have remained patient and kind as I've tried to get up to speed. We've already worked through some challenges together, and I've built a level of trust in them that I thought would take much longer to develop. I hope they feel the same way about me.

The second "learning" I mentioned in the previous column was that work/life balance was still hard to establish, but in different ways.

In this regard, my situation hasn't changed all that much since I first made the career switch — and that's a good thing.

I wrote earlier about the seniority I had after years at the Deseret News, and the flexibility that afforded me. I still don't have that seniority with my new employers, but I've found that my boss has been understanding about my need to occasionally leave a few minutes early to pick up my children from piano lessons or fulfill other parenting duties. And everyone at work was completely supportive when I needed to take some time off to be with my dad during surgery he had the week of Thanksgiving.

As for my nights and weekends, they're still largely free of work. As I expected, my workdays have lengthened as I've become a more integral part of the team and gained new responsibilities, but the workload has not yet become unmanageable.

Since I'm home earlier than I used to be — and especially because I no longer have to deal with a steady stream of phone calls and emails from work — I have become the go-to guy for checking my 11-year-old daughter's math homework, have mostly taken over laundry duties and have been able to help more with other household chores, allowing my wife more freedom to pursue some of her activities. I really can't tell you how amazing that is!

The last thing I mentioned learning in the previous column was that I needed to be more patient with myself.

After a few weeks in the job, I was struggling mightily with this. I didn't know the details of my responsibilities, so I didn't always feel useful. I also was trying to learn a whole raft of acronyms, processes and procedures, not to mention the names of coworkers and a different deadline rhythm.

The latter has required more patience and work than I thought it would. In the world of print journalism, I was used to tight, daily deadlines. When I moved to a position with deseretnews.com, those deadlines became even more immediate, thanks to the 24/7 nature of online news.

Now the deadlines I face are no less important or daunting, but most are not of the daily variety. Instead, I have had to figure out how to use my time effectively to meet deadlines that are weeks or even months away. At first, I had very little patience for this change and still wanted everything to happen immediately. As the months have passed, I've grown a bit better at managing the new rhythm, but my impatience sometimes rises to the surface.

Fact is, I'm not sure I've made a lot of progress with patience during the last six months. It's still frustrating for me when I'm asked a question I can't answer, or when I have to ask someone else a long string of questions to make sure I'm completing a task correctly.

I still want to know everything right now, and it's annoying that I don't. I guess I have to be satisfied for now with the knowledge that I appear to be making progress, and I'll keep working on being more patient with myself.

After all, chances are good that as soon as I think I've got things figured out, I'll have a new project to attack that will once again force me to stretch my abilities and practice my patience.

I guess that's the most important thing I've discovered during the last six months: When you're starting a new career, the learning never stops.

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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