No More Firsts?

Has it really been 11 days since I last blogged?  Talk about not keeping new years resolutions!  LOL.

I’m at my clients ATM and upstairs my boss is in a meeting that could change the course of both our professional lives.. it’s hush, hush, so keep it between us please 😉

If it all comes together there’ll be a number of firsts I’ll have to deal with in the very near future, and that’s ok because I’m sleeping well (ATM) and feeling pretty damn healthy due to this not drinking jazz and getting plenty of exercise.

Hang on I hear you say, isn’t the title of this post “No More Firsts”?  And here she is rabbiting on about a bunch of firsts on the cards.  Nice catch!  I only attract the very smartest of readers !  🙂

I was thinking only this morning that I’m out of non drinking firsts.  Over the past 2 years while I’ve been taking longish periods away from my beloved wine I’ve actually covered them all at some point… Christmas, NYE, Birthdays, Funerals, Weekends away*, Conferences, Dinners with friends and enablers alike, Winery visits, the list goes on….  Hell, I’ve even had my MIL stay and not drink!  The only thing I’m missing is a wedding but we are past that in my circle ATM, so I think I’m good there.  It’s true what those who have gone before say, it does get easier, those firsts come and go and you go on with your journey a little bit surer that what you doing is right for you.

 

*After looking at me like I’d lost my mind when I said I was taking the year off booze, my colleague came out with “Oh good, we don’t have to walk back to the work show, you can drive us home!” It was his car and 40 degrees, so I was more than happy to drive the drunks home.  I do love how often Aussies immediate go to is  “You non drinking freak… here are my keys, you’re responsible for us all now”  LOL!  I also enjoyed waking up without a hangover the next morning in that heat,  that was the real bonus!

It’s Been A while, Oh And I Broke Someone…

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Nearly two months since I wrote. How that time has flown by.  I’ve got lots to say but nothing at the same time if you know what I mean?

I was going to talk about Christmas craziness*, but it’s not – it’s going to be just me, the cats and Crazy Cat Boy at home for a quiet day.

Then I was going to talk about the whole no booze journey and how it’s going for me, but I’m not – There’s been a few drinks here and there, nothing to write home (or a blog) about.

Oh, I know what I can tell you!  I’m the last straw!  That’s right,  you heard it here first good internet peeps, I pushed someone over the edge!  They actually cited me as, and I quote, “Too Demanding”,  the task I’d given them was the “last straw” and they quit their job of over 10 years.

Hmm, I sound terrifying I know!  But the reality is far from that.

Regular readers might remember that my organisation had a big event** last month, one I’ve been working as the key Project Manager on for a while.  Part of the three day event was a side function that ran for one day and included our suppliers exhibiting.  I’d been working with the relevant Sales Manager for my client who seemed…. disinterested shall we say in the details.  Sales Manager takes off for leave (as they are justified to do) and leaves very vague instructions for his staff member around the responsibilities for the side function.

Not unexpectedly I call a meeting with this staff member to see how things are going and where we can support (keeping in mind we’d actually done all the heavy lifting already on the event – all we really needed was someone to run it on the day).  They seemed fine at the meeting and we progress with phone calls, emails etc, all is moving in the right direction until 1 week out I get a call from the big boss… “Sales Manager got back today,  XYZ quit, apparently it’s our fault.”   

Our fault? Nope, not even remotely.  XYZ had a lot on, it’s been a very, very long year in our industry, more so than normal, and he was working in a high pressure sales environment with an understaffed team.  XYZ has a small child who is unwell and a massive prospective new customer that was keeping them on the road and away from home.  Add to that an overworked and under pressure sales manager above them and it all became too much and he marched in with a resignation letter and then marched straight out of the building.  Dramatic, but not very practical in my book (Hmm, perhaps I really am a hardarse)

The big boss was concerned that I might feel bad about the situation, but I don’t.  I know that it wasn’t me – in fact once the smoke had cleared XYZ went to the boss and said as much, they were just overwhelmed.

I do hope XYZ gets another job soon that will allow them to enjoy what they do again and that they find peace. I’ve been in a situation where a job is literally killing me, it’s not healthy.  I’m not sure what their personal situation is, I do hope they had the Fuck You Money to do this without putting their family stability at risk.

The whole situation was a timely reminder to keep an eye on my own stress levels and mental health.  So I encourage all of you at the end of this long year, wherever you are to take stock of how you feel in your head and your heart and make changes to keep yourself healthy and happy as we head into the silly season and beyond.

 

*Even my dear SIL seems to be taking a realistic approach to the silly season this year… the fact that she’s 7 weeks booze free is probably helping there I should imagine! Go her, it’s a great thing to be doing for herself.

**In case you are wondering, I did the lead up, the event and post event stone cold sober, much to many peoples deep and abiding confusion.   Trust me, it really was the only way I got through.  If I’d been dealing with lack of sleep and hangovers, I’d have done more than quit my job!  LOL

Missing My Family – Furry & Otherwise

I’m away for work ATM and am missing my entire family.  The poor girl cat had to have four teeth out yesterday and I’m not there to give her a pat.  Sure, Crazy Cat Boy is there, but I feel guilty that I’m not.

I’m missing Crazy Cat Boy as well.  He’s on holidays before his new job starts (going to be a risk, but a calculated risk so I’m worried about that as well!) and has been away visiting his family so I’ve not seen him much. Or spoken to him, as he’s between jobs he’s also between phones.  Wow, you don’t realise how much you rely on them now until one of you don’t have one!  I guess missing him is a good thing though!  LOL

Right, I’m off to score the best spot in the meeting room before the hoards arrive… two days of wanna be alfa males beating their chests to impress the new boss, I’m going to be doing a lot of eye rolling!

PS: 22 days built up again with no booze.  I really haven’t missed it much this time around.

I’m Still Alive!

Just in case anyone is wondering, I am still alive.  Work has been craziness and just having the mental capacity not to yell at my colleagues is about as far as I can stretch at the moment, so the blog has been suffering due to a distinct lack of creativeness on my behalf.

On top of that I decided, after hearing from mum that my grandfather built most of their house that I MUST be genetically predisposed to construction and that Crazy Cat Boy and I could obviously finish the ensuite without any assistance from professionals other than Bunnings videos and YouTube (the fact that I couldn’t get a tradie to show up and do the job has NOTHING to do with it I tells ya!) so we’ve been slowly and I mean at glacial pace moving towards completion… There are now tiles on the floor and the new drain tray is in place ready to pour the shower base… this has taken 4 weeks (there was only 6 tiles to put in to give you an idea of our work rate) so I have my fingers crossed to move my toothbrush back in just before Christmas.

Apart from that all is good.  I admit that I did go back to regular drinking after all of my great efforts but I’m mostly back on the wagon at them moment and feel that I should stay there.  I am much happier when I don’t drink, not to mention my jeans fit 😉

So that’s it at the moment good internet peeps, I hope you are all well and following your dreams!

I’ve Quit Guilt & So Should You

guilt

I gave it up about 18 months ago. If you haven’t already done this, give it a try it is liberating.

I was a 3 pack a day guilter so it wasn’t easy.

I always had that feeling that whatever was wrong was my fault somehow. It comes high school where I was bullied everyday then moving straight into a job where the company culture was to sit the staff down and tell us that we should do anything they told us to because no one else would hire us. I already knew from school; comply and conform is the only option for acceptance. Doh, talk about negative reinforcement!

Closed doors, must be talking about me. Something goes wrong on a project that I’m only slightly connected with, must have been something I’ve done. CCB in bad mood, yup, must have been something I said or did. It got to the point where guilt was starting to control my life.

My light bulb moment came after a particularly trying day at work where it was announced that “not everyone will be going” to a long awaited event that I was a critical part of the planning for. I immediately thought; Well, I should take one for the team, I’ll talk to the boss tomorrow and tell him to leave me out. Then I went home and got ready for my walk and CCB got cranky because he wanted me to go and do something with him, he didn’t need me to do it, it was just that what I wanted to do wasn’t about him*

So I went for my walk feeling guilty and then it hit me… why am I feeling this way? I deserve to get fit; I have the right to want what I want.

Then I thought about the work situation. I didn’t notice any of the boys volunteering to step back, so why should I? I’m a key part of this team and I should be at this event. I’m proud of the work I’ve done to get this up and running. Bugger it, I’m not having that chat with the boss tomorrow and I refuse to feel guilty about it.

So that is the day I gave up guilt.

I feel lighter and strangely more confident when I reply “That’s a shame, what is being done to resolve the issue?” instead of immediately trying to find a way that I messed up and jumping in to help “fix” it.

Guilt is a highly addictive, nasty, destructive habit that is bad for your mental health. Giving up is hard, but not giving up is worse. Take a hint from Tay Tay** and Shake It Off, Shake It Off.

* He’s working on that

** I wonder how different my high school years might have been if Ms Swift rather than Mr Farnham was the soundtrack!

Resiting The Urge To Crack

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Today I’m frustrated beyond belief. I know it will pass but the overwhelming feeling at the moment is to crack it. I’ve even gone as far as typing the email with a sting and a swing, professional right? Yeah, I know, I won’t hit send; I’ve applied the cup of tea theory* but still haven’t calmed down.

In any other circumstance I’d get rid of this service provider. They rarely deliver on time or to brief and to top it off when they don’t like what I’m asking them to do, they go over my head to my boss who promptly rolls over. The problem is they are part of the “family”, a sister company and what is worse, based in the same offices as the rest of the team – I’m not.

It doesn’t help that the MD of this company and I are both control freaks who don’t like being told what to do. I don’t think it’s chauvinism at work, I don’t get that vibe, more a not invented here syndrome.

My concern is also that at some point I know the companies will merge and I could be seen as this person’s employee.   My boss rolling over reinforces this guys impression that my direction can be over turned and that I’m not a valued member of the team. I think that frustrates me more than anything else.

Over the years I’ve faced up to a lot of difficulties that working remotely throws at you. Building relationships over email is difficult, missing out on the tiny details about projects that office chatter gives you, those little nuances that lubricate navigating the business. For the most part these have been overcome with time and patience, but this, I’ve applied every strategy I have in my toolbox and nothing works.

Sigh, it is what it is I guess, so I’ll just put my big girl pants on and deal with it.

Rant over

*Always have a cup of tea before replying. Or if you prefer, “Scritzy’s Coke Rule” works just as well.

All Aboard The CC Train

It happened again this morning!  Yet another flag waving, look at me, I know what’s going on everyone email has shown up.email train

Dear Colleagues, I know you want to do a good job, I know you want everyone else to know that you are doing a good job, but for the love all that is holy, stop CCing in the world!

Why when I pose a simple question the reply to my email comes back with an extra six people looped in?  People that aren’t even remotely interested: remotely involved yes, interested nooo.  Some of these people even pay us to work this out so they don’t have to know about it.  That is our job!

Please, if I ask you a question, just answer me… if I’d thought anyone else needed to know I’d have included them.  I promise no one will miss out on any vital information.  I’m good at this, really, cross my heart.  I’ve even got a couple of bits of paper to back that up.

I’ve tried responding without hitting the reply all, but without fail replies comes back with everyone looped in again. Why?  Do you think I’m trying to hide something?  Do you think you’ve uncovered the great secret of my ineptness?  Do you think I’m just waiting to pounce on you for some mistake? It’s none of the above.  I just want to get my job done without annoying anyone.

For the record I think this practice makes people look needy and insecure.  It drives me insane (It drives my boss nuts to when his inbox  is filled with stuff he knows I’ll just deal with). Lord knows what your boss thinks (Well, actually I do because I asked if it was a directive from him; here’s a hint, it isn’t).

So, I’m begging you,  if we all promise to act like responsible, trustworthy professionals can we please pull the CC train into the station and disembark?  Pretty Please?……

Why I Heart Working With Gen Y

They are always playing with their phones, they don’t pay attention, they aren’t committed, blah, blah, blah.Gen y

Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard the complaints and for the most part, I don’t agree.

I like working with people younger than me; they make me better at my job, more open to new ideas.  Perhaps I’ve just been blessed, but the “kids” I work with are smart, funny, unafraid and very generous with their knowledge.

Sure, they don’t hesitate to text you at odd hours and have very blurred boundaries when it comes to work and personal lives.  Let’s face it these are people who have always had the world on demand in their pockets.  It’d be pretty strange if they didn’t see life and work in a different light to anyone who knows what a typewriter is or found it exciting to use a fax machine for the first time!

I love how secure and confident they are in themselves.  While older workers tend to hold on to jobs longer*, younger workers aren’t afraid to change not only jobs, but entire careers and industries to find what they really want to do.

People my age and older can be more prone to keeping information and skills to themselves. Having  started work in the 1980s recession and worked through every downturn since. I understand how the pressure to hold on to a job can lead to someone to resist sharing knowledge to remain relevant.   However, my younger colleagues just don’t have this fear.  I learn so much from them all the time.

Younger staff don’t have the same geographic barriers.  They see no reason why they can’t get their work done from anywhere in the world at any time.  This is an amazingly freeing way to see life.  Some of my colleagues grumble about this and see it as being irresponsible or not committed.  I like the fact that someone has the tools to be free to pursue their dreams regardless of where they might be located.  I plan to use this lesson in a few years when I decide to travel almost fulltime as well as maintain a career.

Just like every generation before them, Gen Y just want to be happy and they don’t hesitate to change their circumstances to achieve this.  So, instead of berating them for their outlook on life, I think we can learn a lot from them, both personally and professionally.  I know I do.

* I’m not knocking this, experience and continuity is vital for companies.  I just think it’s important to remember that it’s not always good for the people providing it if they are unhappy or feeling trapped.

Insecure Co-workers & Conflict: A Tale Of Two Sides

Co-workers, love ‘em or hate ‘em it’s hard to avoid them.

So what do you do when you work with someone who is insecure, fixates on tiny problems (that they must tell the world that they found) and won’t move on long after an issue has been thrashed out?

confictAs I work from home I’m normally insulated from any office hysterics caused by  Tiny Details Exaggeration Syndrome or TDES**.

My usual protocol is to sigh, roll my eyes at the offending email and get a cup of tea while I formulate a measured, non-threatening response while asking one of the cats what on earth was going through their mind when they decided to;

  1. Pen the email instead of call me
  2. CC everyone under the sun including the boss over something so minor

However, I recently found myself in a situation where I did allow a person to get under my skin face to face.  I won’t go into details except to say I believe it was a complete misinterpretation of my actions, it certainly was of my intent.  I was measured and (I think) rational  in my response until my integrity was attacked.  That’s kind of my hill to die on.

Now I know that this person is pretty emotional. Normally I make allowances for them, as outside of work I quite like the guy and I also understand from personal experience just how irrational insecurity can make you.

So, what do you do when someone attacks you and then can’t or won’t provide examples of the behaviour?  My response was to continue to push for one, that only served to make them more defensive.  In the end I did something I rarely do, I tried to justify my perceived actions on one of my offences.  This was also a mistake as it gave them the opportunity to tell me that they didn’t believe me.  It was at this point I said there was nothing more to be discussed and walked away.  Neither party was abusive or rude during our robust debate, but it wasn’t our finest hours either.

So, what would I do differently?

  • I’d have stuck with my original plan of discussing the issue at a later date when we were both cooler headed
  • I would have been less blunt when I called them out on this issue
  • I’d have had a clear strategy on the formal move forward position*

What did I learn?

  • Someone’s perception is their reality and it is very had to change
  • Remember who you are talking to and respond accordingly
  • Walking away after making arrangements to discuss at a different time is usually always the smarter move long term
  • Emotional responses are not always logical
  • Putting the event behind you and treating the person professionally will help restore at least a working relationship even if the personal relationship is destroyed
  • My boss will back me 100% when I’m right (he’s awesome)

Do I regret what happened?  To a degree, but I don’t regret defending myself.  I know that in a year from now they’ll still be harbouring a grudge and trying to make my professional life difficult wherever possible and that isn’t ideal. However, I’m a big girl and fortunately they aren’t in a position to do any real damage to me.

Any tips on how I could have handled this differently or what you’ve done in the same situation

  * This all took place after a work social function. I asked for the perceived issues with my performance to be tabled in a formal manner so they could be addressed openly.  The response was they “might decide to in the future”.  I’m not a fan of anyone holding something over my head as such, so I’ve already flagged the discussion with the powers that be.

 ** Credit to Mr Money Mustache for creating TDES