As happens to many people, I’m in a job I don’t enjoy and I’ve been job-hunting. It’s been so difficult that it makes me wonder if part of my problem is… me. It’s time for some introspection, but I need help with it because I don’t know if I’m normal or if I’m just a big fat baby who needs an attitude adjustment. So tough love and suggestions for how to improve are very welcome.
I worry that I take this baggage with me from job to job: I’ve noticed that when a lot of responsibility is put on me, too fast for my liking, I push back and fuss about it. I don’t know if I am correct to push back because their expectations are unrealistic or if I’m just not rising to the challenge as I should. Here is a specific example. I am responsible for writing/maintaining documentation for five software products. I’m also responsible for answering questions about the products, including doing research if necessary in order to answer the questions. I’m also responsible for brainstorming new ideas for those products, and that involves going around to internal and external SME’s to get their thoughts, boiling ideas down into one or two proposals, campaigning amongst all the SME’s and eventual end users to get them used to the idea and validate the proposals, and then campaigning to get everybody to agree to doing one and agree to implementation dates. I feel overwhelmed with all that, so that when I overhear someone saying “Oh Jcwoman takes care of that, she can do it for you” or “Jcwoman is the expert in that…” I grind my teeth. Also on top of that, I’m expected to act like a champion of our products and our company and always be looking for new things that we can do.
But I have to maintain a cheerful attitude when my ideas are all shot down for various reasons, new awful problems are given to me to solve, and just keep trucking with my day to day work and brainstorm new ideas. I’m really struggling to have a cheerful attitude and see it all as wonderful challenges to eagerly take on. I see them as unwanted challenges and unpleasant work.
It’s all mental and that’s what makes it difficult to deal with. My supervisors have told me that if I feel like I can’t finish what’s assigned to me to let them know and they’ll get me some help. But I haven’t been able to because I seem to have become expert at doing just what’s absolutely necessary to pass muster but not go above and beyond. So for example I just don’t work any overtime because I know what the minimum is to get the work done and do that and don’t try to do more. It’s really hard to tell them that I can’t get the work done when I am clearly getting enough done to be satisfactory.
The other issue is that so much of my work is simply campaigning with people which takes time. It’s not like “it takes 3 hours to assemble this widget” time. Campaigning is more like talking to Bob and Larry to pick their brains, talking to Sue and Mary for the same, going back to Bob and Sue for further information, going back to Mary for her thoughts, writing up some kind of summary or proposal based on those discussions, reviewing it with all of them just to warm them up to the idea, wait a little time for them to mull it all over, going back to them all for their thoughts on it, rewriting, talking to them all some more to see if I’m on the right track and if they like it, etc… How can you do that for 5 products on an ongoing basis and somehow “put a pin in it” to identify that I have more work than I can get done and need help?
All my coworkers seem to be able to handle this cheerfully. They do drop stuff and lose track of many things, but they’re always cheerful and happy to add more to their plates, reshuffling priorities and setting things aside. I seem unable to maintain that kind of attitude because I worry about the things not getting done. Is that something I need to learn? Is it something that I CAN learn?