Lately, I have started to feel guilty for doing absolutely nothing to further my career exploration nor job search. The guilt has compounded to the point that I’ve even had moments when I’ve felt like I’m doing nothing important with my life simply by virtue of not being in the workplace. I often feel unproductive and like I might just be the laziest human on the planet. And yet, when I look at my days, I’m rarely just sitting around.
In fact, this morning as I entered into what I consider my hyper-productive-domestic-mode, I had a moment where I realized ‘holy crap, I am a productivity machine!’. Just look at what I accomplished before noon today:
–took out the garbage
–washed dishes, ran the dishwasher, unloaded the dishwasher
–cleaned and prepped lettuce and kale for this week’s salads
–made a batch of farro to put in this week’s salads
–started our slow-cooker pot roast. Granted, slow cooker recipes are supposed to be easy, but that’s not entirely true. It’s just that all the work is at the front end. I still had to sear (and that beef got a mighty fine sear, I might add), chop, sauté, make a roux, chop some more, and combine. It’s a bit of an ordeal, particularly when I have to avoid setting off our uber sensitive smoke detector.
–swept the floors
–washed and dried bedding and made the bed (no small feat for a king-size bed)
–cleaned the bathrooms
–applied for two jobs (for the first time in two weeks! hurrah!)
–went for a run
I dare say that’s more than I accomplished any morning at work in the past year and a half. In fact, I am willing to bet that, during that timeframe, at least 75% of my work mornings involved me doing nothing more than talking to my colleagues, going for coffee, working out, sneakily writing blog posts, and responding to a few emails. Despite the fact that, objectively, I’m often doing a lot more with my time now that I’m out of work, what I’ve struggled with most is feeling unproductive and far from useful. I’ve realized that my senses of both contribution and value have become inextricably tied to my career.
Apparently being a domestic wizard, (almost) daily writer, errand runner extraordinaire and champion mid-week cookie and buttermilk-waffle maker has not been enough for me to feel of value. I get a lot of shit done these days, all of it needs to get done, and I am happy doing it. This is a stark contrast to my last couple of years at work where was I doing a lot of work that felt unimportant and unnecessary and, largely by virtue of this, left me incredibly frustrated. Should that make me feel more valuable than what I’m doing now?
While I have no intention of remaining out of the workforce forever (nor, sadly, the financial ability to do so), I still want to pay attention to my sources of personal value. I certainly don’t want to feel like my only value comes from my career, especially when it’s not like I’m saving lives in my profession. It’s time I start asking myself the types of questions I used to ask my clients and colleagues: what currently gives you a sense of value? where do you want your sense of value to come from? are those two things aligned? Perhaps in the answers to these questions I’ll even spark some ideas for a new career direction.