writing, and other things I no longer get paid to do (and why it’s kinda okay)

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Three days ago, I began crafting this blog entry. At the time – amidst a period of petulant exasperation as a result of a ridiculous amount of meetings coupled with a number of misguided expectations about my new position – the tone and direction of the entry were what I would most accurately classify as, well, whiny.

It went a little something like this:

Three months ago I began a new career of sorts. I’m still at the same company, in the same department and I still have the word “communications” in my title. But, that is where the similarities end. My new position, which came about through the way of a promotion that had been in the works for months and months, is as a project manager. Specifically, I’m now a Strategic Communications Project Manager.

Three months ago, I was elated about the new position – I had been dabbling in project management for the past year or so, leading a successful project and also enrolling in and completing the first two quarters of a master’s program in project management. One month ago, the newness of the position was still bright and shiny and I had updated business cards and a fancy new (albeit, long) title. I was excited to organize and use templates and apply what I had learned in my courses about the nine knowledge areas.

Two months ago, I was elated about the new position – I was on the move, I was a manager, senior vice presidents stopped me in the hallway to congratulate me. I was assured that cubicle land was a thing of the past and I would soon be the proud tenant of an office, with an actual door I could shut!

One month ago, reality began setting in. And then last week, reality took on the form of 17 meetings taking place in five days. Last week, two of my projects (technically three, as two products have been rolled into one project), officially kicked off.

Last week, it sunk in that not only am I now a project manager, I am no longer a writer. Well, in my mind, I’ll always be a writer, regardless of my title. But, writing is no longer a primary component of my position.

At this time, I, and my thoughts, were interrupted by a hair appointment, causing me to put the blog post to rest for a few days. (On a related note, making the decision to chop off your hair whilst in this state of mind? Not recommended — and, lesson learned.) However, I did not forget about it, or the quandary that prompted it. Over the past few days, it continued to ferment until I finally took the time to sit and examine my feelings and identify what was driving the state of dissatisfaction (and whininess). What materialized as a result was the realization that I was basing my new position on some assumptions, most of which were ludicrously misguided.

Assumption #1: I’m halfway through a project management master’s program, which equates to me knowing exactly how to run a project as a project manager.

Assumption #2: This job is going to resemble my previous job as a communications specialist and I will still have an opportunity to write. (Turns out, this one is half true. The opportunity is there, it’s the time to do such things that is nonexistent.)

Assumption #3: Every project in which I’m involved will pertain to an area of my interest (e.g., communications) and I will care passionately about its success.

Assumption #4: I am going to like being a project manager more than I liked being a communications specialist.

Assumption #5: My communications coworkers will fully support me in my new position and our relationship will remain as is.

I’m not saying that all of these assumptions turned out to be entirely wrong – some were actually kind of true (or, perhaps will be as I progress in my role as a project manager). However, based on the identification of the aforementioned assumptions, as well as some others that I didn’t include above, I was able to pinpoint why I was feeling sorry for myself.

Then, this morning I was complaining to a coworker about my new daily work schedule that basically breaks down this way – 50% meetings, 20% completing action items resulting from meetings, 15% researching IT terms to figure out what was said at the meetings, 10% deciphering notes from meetings and 5% planning and scheduling new meetings – during which he interjects to make a very good point.

“But,” he says, “this new job is going to be so great for your overall career. You’re learning so many new things and growing your skillsets and honestly, if/when you decide to move on to something else, you’re going to have such an advantage.”

And, he’s absolutely right. The whole reason I pushed for this promotion was because I wanted something more, to learn and expand my skills and to not continue down a path that was leading me to complacency. I knew it was going to be different and sometimes difficult, but these are the attributes that push us to become better versions of ourselves.

What’s more is I can still write – no one is stopping me from doing that. True, I am no longer able to spend eight hours a day getting paid to do so. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still do it. I’m just going to have to make a commitment outside of work to keep it up. The silver lining? I can now choose what I write about, with the exception of papers for school, of course. I guess my subconscious or intuition or what have you was ahead of me on this one because I registered for a writing class a few weeks ago, which takes place tomorrow (perfect timing, eh?).

And, if somewhere down the road it turns out that project management truly isn’t for me, I still have an educational background and experience that supports many, many other career options. And that, my friends, is called risk management. Bam.

The greatest risk in life is to risk nothing at all. ~Leo Buscaglia

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