[Deep breath, Katie. The time has finally come for you to stop putting this off. You’re doing this, okay?]
Today is July 15th, 2014 and I am [finally] owning up to being stuck in a rut. I can’t really pinpoint the precise trigger, but I do know who the primary culprit is — my job.
I rejoined Microsoft as a Product Marketing Manager a little over 18 months ago and in that time I’ve seen a tremendous amount of change and transition. [Not that change and transition is out of the ordinary for any large company or division of a large company, but the particular division that I’m in has suffered from operating under so much ambiguity and uncertainty for so long now, that morale feels like it’s at an all-time low.] In 18 months, I’ve had 3 managers and have been through 2 major re-orgs. Add to that, rumors have been mounting that the biggest round of layoffs in Microsoft’s history is swiftly approaching. As a result, a collective disengagement has grown within my group that will prove to be difficult, if not impossible, to pull out of.
My problem is also rooted in the fact that I don’t believe in the products that I’m supporting. [Talk about the ultimate marketer’s dilemma!] What makes this situation particularly challenging for me is that, by nature, I’m a deeply passionate person [a full-fledged Scorpio] who thrills in being able to rally behind a cause, a mission, an ideology, or a product that I wholeheartedly support and sharing that enthusiasm with others. My inability to be a loyal evangelist for the products that I am assigned to market and endorse, coupled with the declining temperature of my department and impending layoffs, I feel much like a car on an empty highway that’s just run out of gas. I’m completely lacking in motivation and at times don’t recognize myself at work. Even in my personal life, I feel stuck creatively. I used to journal and blog frequently, and create things with my hands, always with fresh, new ideas, inspired by people and my environment. Now I find myself completely lacking energy for these things, preferring instead to shut out the world, keeping my office door closed all day, avoiding engaging unnecessarily with any of my colleagues, leaving the office early whenever I can, finding opportunities to sleep in the middle of the day. [By all accounts, I sound depressed!]
The good news is, I feel like I’m on a path to getting myself out of this rut. Here’s what I’ve come to accept:
1) I cannot stress over the things I am incapable of changing or controlling. If I happen to be impacted by the layoffs, this will be a decision that I cannot change or control but can only come to accept. The inner hippie in me strongly believes that everything in this life happens for a reason and, more importantly, when it should… when we are truly ready to take on change, learn a new lesson, or leave something behind. I’ve come to welcome whatever change is on the horizon and feel strongly that should I be let go this week, this is the universe opening up an opportunity for me to leave a situation that I have already acknowledged as toxic. I find tremendous peace in the words of the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
2) Regardless of what happens, I know in my heart that Microsoft is no longer the right fit for me. Knowing that I’m a deeply passionate, creative person, one who revels in sharing my enthusiasm for the things I love, I cannot stay in a role or in an environment where I feel stifled. It’s like being stuck in a smoke-filled room and I can’t breathe. For me, it’s about recognizing that life is short and every additional minute I spend doing something that I don’t believe in is a minute wasted and can never get back. The silver lining to all of this is that I am fortunate to have another gig outside of my day job that I am so completely engrossed in and inspired by. When Flywheel entered my life last summer, it was truly a serendipitous event. I literally overheard two coworkers talking about a new cycling studio that had just opened up down the street, so I immediately took to the interwebs and discovered Flywheel. In that very moment, my life was forever changed for the positive. I started going to classes and was instantly hooked. I sung their praises to coworkers and friends and intentionally carved out time in my calendar everyday that was dedicated to Flywheel and Flywheel alone. I forged connections with my favorite instructors, the Flywheel staff and with other regular riders. And when auditions came about for new instructors, I raised my hand, went out on a limb and tried out, and to my delight, was selected to go through 7 weeks of intense training. I’ve been teaching now for the last 6 months and have found the experience to be fulfilling, rewarding, challenging, invigorating and just overwhelmingly positive — a complete contrast to my life at Microsoft. Identifying where my passions truly lie while acknowledging the areas in my life where I might be “faking it” has been a sobering experience. And while it’s scary to think about leaving a job that’s financially stable, in the end, if my heart’s not in it, then I’m wasting my talent and wasting my time.
3) Opening yourself up to life’s possibilities can have the power to change the course of your life and broaden your perspective. Don’t you find that when you say, “yes” or “why not?”, amazing things can happen? There have been times when I have dreaded an upcoming social engagement or put off taking on a new project due to my fear of the perceived pain involved. Yet, when the thing actually arrives, I’ve often found myself looking back and saying, “well that wasn’t so bad. What was I so afraid of?” Creating a space where you’re willing and open to accepting life’s invitations that come your way can open doors for you that would otherwise remain closed. I’m consciously taking tomorrow’s news as one that will shine a light on what possibilities exist for me outside of the walls of Microsoft. I’m opening myself up to the signs, messages and people in my life who can help me make the transition to getting out of my rut and on to living out my calling.
4) Acknowledging that I can’t get out of this rut alone. Simply put, it’s okay to ask for help. Sometimes we just can’t go at it alone — and that’s okay! Sometimes we need to turn to our friends and family for advice. Other times we need to call upon the aid of an unbiased third party or a professional coach who is more equipped to help identify our trouble spots than we would be if we attempted to tackle our issues single-handedly. Starting in early August, I will begin working with a coach to help me formulate a plan that will enable me to start actively living my life’s purpose and unearth how I can leverage my passions around health, wellness, fitness, nutrition and teaching into a new career path. I’m excited to work with someone who’s had successes with other people in similar situations and while I’m excited to ultimately emerge from my rut, I’m looking forward to going through the process and embracing all of the learnings that will inevitably ensue along this path.
Yes, I’m most definitely in a rut, and it’s been terribly difficult for me to admit that. But the good news is, I know there’s a way out. Sure it might take some time for me to rally, rely on my friends, on a coach and on the signs of the universe to point me in the right direction, but I’m ready. Stay tuned! Exciting things are in store, I’m sure of it.