Thursday, January 07, 2016

Sitting Ducks.

Lately the word "weird" gets uttered a lot at my workplace. 

The organization I work for is going through a seismic shift. Longtime employees have been bought out. Good people are being let go, or getting fed up and leaving of their own accord. For the rest of us, it's lots of shrugging, sad smiles, and saying "things are weird."

I am not exactly like most other employees, though. I am full-time with benefits, but on an annual contract subject to renewal, because a sponsor funds my work. This shielded me, to some degree, from the recent turmoil, but now it's my turn. My contract is up.

Technically speaking, I am now six paychecks away from being unemployed.

I've been renewed at least five times. Once it really came down to the wire, but it was clear all along that my boss at the time had my back and was working on it. 

This year is different, though. The players and the game are changing. Everyone is distracted. My current boss asked for a meeting tomorrow. I imagined, with a pit in my stomach, that he had bad news about the contract. It turns out he just wants to talk story ideas for the year. The fact that we're FourFiveSeconds from bye-day is not at all on the radar.

The whole transition means all bets are off on who will be around in two or three months. "[Coworker's name redacted] is looking," a coworker whispered to me today. "She said she's doing at least one thing each day" toward the goal of finding a new position.This was a model worth following, as far as my colleague was concerned: One action every day. 

"I'm not going to be a sitting duck," she declared, walking back to her desk. (No joke, I had just taken the picture above that very morning.)

"Makes sense," i said from my perch by the side of the pool, and tucked my beak squarely back into my feathers.

And her view does make sense, all the sense in the world. I have no illusions about my situation. I don't imagine that some eleventh-hour decision will save my job, even though it has before and very well might still. Like my colleague, I'm exploring options and reaching out to smart people I know. Trying to save money, lay a cushion.

The difference is that on some level, I completely accept that all of the cards have been dealt, and that I am now in the position of watching how the hand plays out. I truly believe that no conversation I have there will change anything at this point, nor will rushing to find another job similar to the one I have. I am not asking for meetings or trying to hatch survival strategies. I am not spending much time on internal job boards, much as I'd like the option to stay. The business I'm in is in a state of perpetual upheaval, and nothing I do is going to create security there. 

I know I'm supposed to be freaked out at the prospect that my job technically ends in three months. But, anxiety dreams aside, I'm just not—yet, at least. Because I no longer believe that any job in and of itself is going to solve my problems or define my personal future. If my current work ends, I will find more. I know who I am at this point, what I can contribute and what I cannot. 

I had a different ending to this originally, sort of a lame pep talk directed at the tiny part of me that might be freaking out a little, and feeling tired from all the change. Never mind that. My point is that there can be value in settling in, putting your head down, and doing some watchful waiting, rather than trying to plunge in and paddle against the tide. The wind can change, and answers can emerge, even from choppy water.

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