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Monday, January 7, 2013

What Matters More...The Search for Meaning in Your Career

Today at lunch a friend and I were discussing the topic I most dread lately: my career.  First I have to say I love what I do and I am truly passionate about water and especially water resource planning and sustainability.  Lately a couple of things have been going on, you know when it seems like the whole cosmos is on to something to do with your life and you are the only one left out of the loop.  Well where my career is concerned, that is what seems to be happening. 

First several of my friends have recently retired or moved.  Believe me, if retirement were an option, I would not be posting this blog because Hubby and I would be packing ourselves and the furkids to get ready to move out of the "progressive" south to the Pacific Northwest.  Since we both have several years before making that a reality, back to the career quandary.  These friends have moved on; it has a twofold affect.  I miss working with them and they leave vacancies and opportunities. Simultaneously, it seems everyone I interact with professionally has made some cosmic leap that I have not.  They keep asking me.  What is next for me?  Where I am going?  What am I doing next?  They say this as if what I am doing right now is an item on the "Kathy's been there done that" checklist in the sky.  I must be the only one without a copy.

Here is the thing.  I really do like what I do and there are a few perks I am reticent to give up.  First, never underestimate how valuable it is to have a job no one else in your company understands.  No one knows what I do or anything about it.  I am pretty much free and clear to do whatever, say yes to any project, and go anywhere I need to go.  I can checkout at 8 AM to say I am going 90 miles down south to Macon and no one will ask me why I am doing that.  If you think money is a heady aphrodisiac, try unfettered autonomy, especially if you are a little bit of a control freak.  Plus so few people in Georgia focus on sustainable water supply that my expertise always gets me interesting opportunities.  Plus I have positions on all kind of state and national committees and have friends all over the world.  Tough to give up.

So all of that sounds pretty good.  Here is the other side of the coin.  Back at the shop, though they know I have this weird expertise, they don't always recognize what value I bring to our organization. Sometime I might get a nice opportunity with the state but my own utility forgets to include me in big projects and discussions about our future and the direction we are going.  So I guess this is more like rambling.  When do you stop being an expert and just become stagnant while everyone else moves ahead?  Can being happy and content at what you do, even though folks think you could move up in a more official capacity, still constitute success?  I guess this is something I have to figure out, because destiny or the cosmic forces at play seem to be squeezing the walls tighter.

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