Monday, September 17, 2012

Answering Reader Mail: Becoming Resentful at Work, Segueing Out

“Reaching out to you as another high-profile EA - I feel like you're my west coast twin after reading your blog. I briefly worked in media at a company who partners with all the movie studios. Not always a pleasant experience supporting C-levels there...

You touched on something that really resonated with me, which was if you're no longer in to being an EA, you'll start to become annoyed, resentful, etc. - I was living in this space for several years after learning I dumbed myself down because of what I was taught by family and Fortune companies, that is, "secretaries" weren't supposed to work themselves out of their current job, or god forbid, outside "the box".

After parting ways a number of times for wanting to do more than type, I was able to let my inner geek fully emerge and have taken on desktop support functions; been hand-chosen by CIOs to consult on intercompany projects like emergency broadcasting notifications; designed my current company's social networking portal, complete with new branding and logo. While I've attended top universities in the nation (GPA: 4.0), I've only attained my AA - the tech stuff is so innate to me, I didn't want to put out the cash towards finishing my degree(s) - I realize this sounds ridiculous.

But I may have reached the station on this ride as I've been working feverishly on segueing into a tech position but can't. Ideally, I've wanted to become a BA for quite some time. I've had 1:1s with hiring managers of BAs; sat down with BA's; I've researched what BA's need to have to become a BA... I just cannot get there and am again, annoyed and resentful. I also run rings around my supervisor and now she ignores me since reading the feedback from the C-levels about my work.

Have you ever wanted to segue out of the EA role? Does any of this ring true to you?

I'd appreciate your personal input here.”

Dear KJ,

I am glad you are enjoying my blog and feel validated that my experiences ring pretty accurately for most EAs out there. I commiserate with you as you go on this journey and figure out how to get from point A to point B. There have been many times where I had to assess and re-assess my goals and strategy.

It’s true that there a lot of catch-22’s and it’s hard to get a break. While I have not wanted to segue out of the EA role in and of itself, I have found myself trying to figure out why I was so displeased, what I want, how to be okay with what I want, how to get it/to the next level, and how to be patient and not get frustrated at someone/the world. And all this that I mention isn’t just about work, but about love, life, friendships, relationships, the meaning of life, and managing myself with regard to thoughts, behaviors, and actions versus intentions.

I can tell you are very bright and a go-getter. You’ve done a lot of research. So, I’m not going to offer lengthy tips on what you should do except have these CIOs be your work references, have them somehow vouch for you that you have experience equivalent to a BA if appropriate, to continue to keep in touch with them in case they leave the company and can offer you a job, or put you in touch with other companies where you can work pro bono so you can put on your resume BA experience. Instead, I’m going to tell you what I wish I knew when I was younger, because a lot of what you mention did ring true with me.

The resentment, annoyance, and maybe even the “why bother” syndrome - what you are feeling and experiencing is normal regardless of your age, education, or background. It finally dawned on me a couple of years ago that this isn’t a one-time thing, but a cycle. At all stages of life and in milestone ages, people contemplate if they are happy. This is why Madonna reinvents herself every couple of years. And it’s not easy or quick and it’s quite uncomfortable to go through a metamorphosis. The old must be changed, shed, or tossed for the new to enter. This is something that will happen until the day you die if one is brave enough to confront it and explore.

Figuring out what you want is usually the hardest part. You seemed to have nailed that part so pat yourself on the back. You’ve also seemed to come to terms with what you want and made some bold moves to become happier in your role.

At some point, one has to make the decision if they want to feel/think __________ or if they want to plan/act to attain the goal of _____________. You are justified in all your feelings and attitudes. As they say, you can be right or you can be married. You can compromise and get mostly everything or walk way and get nothing. You can live in the past or concentrate on the future. The question becomes, do you want to feel and think a certain way AT THE EXPENSE OF taking action to get what you want? There is a time and place for everything, including being mad, mourning, thinking things over, or gearing up to be ready for whatever it is you want to tackle. How long is appropriate to be in that place? Only you can decide when you are ready...

As with everyone, I’ve had some extremely unfair and unpleasant events happen to me. Some of the worst times of my life also turned out to be the best times of life in hindsight, and if I gave situations some time. Granted, it may take years to finally appreciate what happened, but with being humble, welcoming change or changing, being scared, and taking a risk, you are able to open the door for things to be different and for things to be better.

And this is the thing about your life, and by extension your career, you only get one shot, with a small window of opportunity. Anyone could get hit by a bus tomorrow, everyone dies. Everything you say yes to means you are saying no to a lot of other things. Every hour of every day is precious because it’s so limited along with your chance to be strategic. Yes, there are 24 hours in a day, but you spend most of that at work, sleeping, commuting, and eating/doing daily stuff like showering and getting ready for work. That really only leaves you with 3 hours or so to either relax or work on your life plan. Just remember, it’s never too late, and it’s best to start and fail or not finish, then it is to never try.

I agree the world is not fair and life doesn’t make sense or people don’t behave rationally. Whenever that really gets under my skin, there are 3 things I focus on:

“Wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair and all the terrible things that happen to us, come because actually deserve them? So now I take comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the Universe.” - Marcus Cole

I think with time you will know what you need to do. I have faith that what you want your life to mean and how to be happy will surface. And if you need to change your mind or your path, don’t be afraid of that either. Your life is yours alone to live. Carpe Diem! :)

ALSO: New “rule” - when you ask me a question and I answer it, could you write an anonymous comment so I know you read the answer? You can just write “Thx!” or something! :)

As always, I usually tweet any new posts I have. And anyone can email me questions and I respond only via this blog, not to your personal address. It usually takes me 3-4 days to answer.

I also write over at under Hollywood Executive Assistant.

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