COVID 19, with all the destructive and dramatic impact across the globe, brought a new wave of change in our perspective. One of the phenomena that acquired an entirely renewed meaning is - working in an office or rather, being physically present in the office for work. In less than 24 hours, a novel strain of the virus pushed us to change our ways and gave no time to adjust as an epidemic morphed into a global health pandemic and we are all waiting for the vaccine, as we speak. Can't really say at this moment if it is the "new normal" but certainly, this is different than the normal, and personally, it's been amazing for me.
In the middle of everything, I decided to quit my job. With no other job opportunity in hand and knowing that finding a good one during this time, is going to be very challenging. What I did realize that I am not someone who can be a part of the regular office jazz, I probably love life too much and life is too short to be running after a paycheque. Some said that I am being irresponsible, some argued that it's not a smart decision, some suggested that I should find a job and then resign, but what they didn't see was that I had mentally resigned a long time back. In times like this, I listen to what my heart says and I have made so many life-changing decisions in times like this.
Here's what changed for me:
I began to value my own work, more than ever
I gathered that when you are part of a system, you lean too much on the feedback and criticism of others, so much so, that you begin to undermine your own hard work. You start following the benchmarks created by that system and limit your growth. This was not working for me. I believe in myself a lot and at the same time, I introspect deeply. It's called being self-aware. I understand where do I lack and in what aspects I need to work harder.
Feedback is very valuable but there's not always a value in every feedback.
Once I identified this difference, I started working more on myself, evaluating my strengths and weaknesses, unbiased.
Learned to not be apologetic for things that did not make sense to me
By this, I do not mean that I stopped owning up to my mistakes. Out of office, I don't have to apologize to anyone for being late at work or not showing up because of reasons that cannot always be shared. I need not say sorry for things I haven't done and suffer the consequences that I don't deserve.
When I was in school, I learned the three magic words - Please, Thank You, and Sorry. Getting older, I continue to learn that their value is easily lost if I say these words a lot and to everyone.
Learned to say NO
Nothing and I mean absolutely nothing and nobody has the power to force you into accepting something you don't agree with. I realized that saying No can be very difficult at times but you got to do it. Gradually, I started rejecting the situations I wouldn't like myself to be in.
I said NO to people, negative energy, and toxicity. Nothing is worth it if you are not happy.
I stopped selling myself short
I have never been good at bragging about myself and have always found the ones who do brag, obnoxious. One thing that the modern workplace taught me that modesty is taken for granted, particularly at the time of deciding your compensation and benefits. Sometimes, it's important to communicate your accomplishments and let people know what is fair and not fair. To put it simply, it isn’t someone else who doesn’t believe in you. You sell yourself short when you don’t believe in yourself - or when it appears that way. And this is not a great place to be in, ever.
Once I understood the value I bring on table, I ask for what I deserve. Nothing more, nothing less. Never less, not anymore. As a freelancer, it's very important to determine the time you invest in a project. It's never the task you get paid for, it's always the experience, skills, creativity and original thought that differentiates you from the rest.
I started valuing my time
I am way more disciplined than I was in a regular work routine because I am not being "managed" or "micro-managed" or tracked by useless tools. I am independent and I am on my own, and nothing teaches like being on your own. I set my priorities and I understand how much time each task deserves. The office culture promotes a vicious mesh of "dos and don't" which are disguised as performance standards, but most often derail you from the real goals and passion. And no matter ho far you go, these standards will always pull you back.
I invest my time now in observation, learning, and genuine feedback. I don't need to be "managed" and I set my KPIs based on realistic goals and benchmarks. I have learned how valuable my time is and I am not wasting it on anything that does not lead to a positive outcome.
There's a great deal that changed for me and changed for good. I will be covering other aspects in the upcoming articles. Meanwhile, stay tuned at The Story Bar for thoughts and ideas, unfiltered. Let me know what you think, I would love to hear your experiences as well. Please note, that these articles are not a representation of the entire work culture, to each his own.
What you must note that I founded The Story Bar as an open and independent platform, where you are free to express yourself and share stories - good, bad, and ugly - but always the truth.