A few weeks ago when I was a woman on the verge of ending up the “Inside Edition” docu-trama-du-jour, I took it day by day. Truthfully, it was all I could do since it took that much out of me just to make it through the day. Now, however that I’m a bit better health-wise, my mental faculties have resumed their full throttle hyper-worried pace where they operate and while I wish I could focus solely on the existential as opposed to being thrust head first into the here, now, and future, as pertains to life-altering, big and scary decision with serious repercussions, turns out I need to start coming up with a plan and fast at that.
Here I am faced with the option of going back to work in a month and a half full-time and working at a pace that tired me out before my son for a job that didn’t ultimately fulfill me even if I did love some of the people I worked with (yeah, not so much...), possibly dialing it down a notch and seeing if I can work part-time, or simply throwing in the towel on being a web producer. If I do go back to work it means sucking myself back into the vortex of working to live rather than loving my work life.
Am I demanding too much at this point in my life if I want to love what I do professionally AND have a rewarding home life that permits me to see my family and spend time with them almost as much as I work?
I’ve read the articles that dictate to me how to navigate effectively the work-life postpartum high wire – the Mayo Clinic articulates the pre- and post-preparation of maternity leave quite well with wonderful step-by-step instructions. Unfortunately rationally dictating these steps to a new, first-time mother who is in denial that she will ever have to part from her son for 2 straight hours to run to the grocery store- let alone 60-hour-week sacrifices – proves utterly futile.
And while there is something to be said for not living in squalor due to low cashflow and finding a compromise that works, I’m also worried I won’t be able to conjure up the exact scenario I want. I guess the key is starting with the scenarios you don’t want and in the past few weeks I’ve met a few people which make me want to never leave my kid in anyone elses’ care ever.
There was the chain-smoking, toothless grandma whom I wasn’t sure if her lack of oral hygiene offended me more or the White Diamonds perfume she doused herself in to mask her nasty nicotine habit. Then there was the woman with 7 kids of her own whose experience in childcare attracted me but whose “belagan” (Hebrew for “mess) mantra of learning to live with mountains of crumbs piled up like snow drifts on the living room floor and “no-gate” policy whereby my kid when he crawls could potentially end up at the bottom of the 19 winding, narrow stairs leading up to her apt. after bathing himself in matzo crumbs – well let’s just say wasn’t something I wanted to entertain.
The key is to keep my options open and to give myself time (hopefully earning $$ in the meantime) to really carve out the here and now I want for my family. That will be my pledge to myself for the time being.
I spent this past week at a work offsite in Minnesota. I should also add that I spent the better half of last weekend apprehensive and anxious about the prospect of leaving my husband for 4 full days. While some spouses may relish in the time away, my husband and I have become more and more attached with the years. In truth, we’ve only been married 2.5 years and yes, I suppose in the grand scheme of things, this might be considered “the honeymoon period,” but so bummed was I by the prospect of being alone, I actually cried when he left me for work the morning of my flight.
The truth is that once I had arrived in Minnesota and settled into the hotel, my time was so packed with activity, I scarcely had time to take a dump, let alone spend quite as much time as I would have liked on the phone talking to my hubby. Over time I’ve realized that there are some really cool perks to traveling for work and lessons learned from my experiences that might benefit others:
- You Don’t Need to Drink to Have a Good Time: I stayed up with the best of the partiers, listened to amusing tales, and got to know people I never see due to geographic location or work schedule. In the end, it allowed me to form relationships that most likely will prove invaluable in time. Self-awareness is king here. I know that one lick of alcohol makes me sleepy and sloppy – neither of which I need spilling over into my work life. (no pun intended)
- It’s OK to Get Annoyed by Your Co-Workers: Everyone needs to decompress and in intense away business situations, where you’re forced to be with a lot of the same people all of the time, it becomes even doubly important. Mingle in and out of groups, if your situation allows, and use it as an opportunity to reach out to others and get to know others. Sometimes all you needed was a little diversity in your social setting. Besides, this solution is much more socially acceptable than punching someone.
- The Bed at the Westin Can be Your Alter: Don’t know if you’ve ever stayed at the Westin, but if you haven’t, I highly recommend spending a night on one of their king size beds and spending it alone. It will be the best night of sleep you’ve ever had and you can be as greedy as you want with the pillows and hog all the space on the bed you want without feeling the teensiest bit guilty. Btw, their bathtubs aren’t too shabby either. And after a long day of intense meetings followed by dinner small chat, it’s a nice release.
Having started my new full-time job this week, it got me thinking how other people handle the shift from freelance to permanent office gig.
Feel free to offer your insights on the poll below.
Last week was a marathon interview week for me. In fact, it was so intense it seems to have gone by in one big blur of a nanosecond. Long story short I had two job offers on the table and ended up deciding on one of the places. How did I arrive at my decision? Well, it wasn’t incredibly easy but it was a well-informed one that required a plan.
In an effort to help other job-seeking candidates in similar situations, I’ve bulleted out some key criteria to keep in mind when choosing on the right job for you. Heed them wisely. They come with a lot of wisdom and growing pains.
- We Can’t All Be Actors, But We Can All Have Defining Roles: Up until now, I’ve always been the type of person in my professional life that opts for place over role. This place has usually been a smaller company with a start-up vibe that gives a lot of lip service to words like “values” and “people.” The pay is never great in these gigs and the job I end up doing never what I’m promised, but as I’m a writer by trade and usually seek extra-curricular freelance opportunities, I figure I’ll get my creative/mental fix in the form of whatever I do outside of my day job. WRONG. (well, kinda…)
This time I decided to put the premium on the role I would be playing at both companies and assessed both the short term (the day-to-day tasks, deliverables) and long-term (my career trajectory) and it was a no-brainer decision for me. I guess it really depends on where you are in your career. Certain things such as benefits and other corporate perks are also important, but at the end of the day you need to be happy with the work you’re contributing and dare I say, “the difference you’re making” to feel truly fulfilled.
- Straight Talk: If you can avoid going through a 3rd party staffing agency, I would highly recommend it. It’s important to create as direct a line as you can with your future employer. If not, this dynamic can spill into every aspect of your relationship which can only hurt you. Leverage a company’s internal HR when it comes to negotiating for pay, but I would steer clear of going through a 3rd party when you’re negotiating in general. You want to be able to own that relationship and as long as someone else is brokering it, unfortunately, you’ll never have a stake in the opportunity and might lose out big-time.
- Be Open & In And Around “The Box”: I went in for a job interview for a Marketing position last week. Well, I didn’t get it, but I walked out with a spiffy new contact and a potential freelance opportunity that interests me way more than the job I was interviewing for.
- You Can Have it All…You Just Can’t Sleep: I used to think that if I worked full-time I couldn’t do freelance. The reality is that I’m a pretty driven and dedicated day worker and this sometimes flows into night so this can impede my ability to have time left over for freelance/side projects. What I have learned from freelancing in the past few months and working under tight deadlines is that I can spend a weekend working non-stop and pull all-nighters. Will I want to make a career of doing this? Depends on the freelance opportunity and what it might bring me.
- Do Your Due Dilligence: Research the companies you’re interested in working for. Go to their websites and check their “investor relations” section to see their annual reports. These are for public consumption. Do some comparative analytics to see that the company is healthy and not going anywhere anytime soon. Also check the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal and the local papers where the company is located.
After immersing myself in scribing cultural commentary on Sex & The City mania this past weekend, I got to thinking about real-life Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda counterparts and how much they might actually earn. We all know that the show is fantasy and that whatever opinion you might hold on fashion, these girls spend a pretty penny on flexing their closet muscles squandering their limited income on clothes and accessories they couldn’t possibly afford in real life. But aren’t you just a little curious as to the average salary of each of these characters and how far such a salary would go in a city with one of the highest costs of living globally? Especially, since we rarely see these gals fret (or sweat) too much over their day jobs and they seem to have plenty of time left over to juggle men and kvetching? Work-life balance and salary that supports a frivolous livelihood? Say no more…
Breakdown of S&TC salaries:
- Carrie is a sex columnist, sometime contributor for Vogue magazine. Average income for a columnist living in NYC is $66,000. The average price of a pair of Manolo Blahniks is $500.
- Samantha is a big-time publicist. Average income for such a profession in NYC is $60,000.
- Charlotte is an art gallery manager. Her real-life counterpart would be pulling $89,000.
- Miranda, as an attorney, naturally makes the most money. At $115,000, hers is the income most in sync with the S&TC lifestyle.