My Career Aspirations and People Pleasing

Today marks the first day home so I can work more on my business!

In my newsletter I talked about how easy it had been to ask. I really did ask on a whim – I had had some happy customers, and it looked like it would be financially OK, especially once the tax returns had finished. I had coaching with my manager the next day so I said “How about it?” and he said “That should be ok, let me find out” and the next day he said “Yep, no worries, what days do you want off?”

I expected pushback. I expected to be told “this is a full time role.” At the time, I was sick for a day and a half with shock, stress, and all the possibly fears that had hidden deep inside about – you’ll never make enough money to cover that day! (I already do) You should be working in a JOB not fluffing around at home! (I don’t fluff, I work consistently and hard and I do great work) You can’t do this! (I have) It’s your responsibility as an adult to work every possible minute for financial gain! (This one I might explore some more later, it’s a biggie.) There were a lot more, and the stress and tension literally had me hunched over and feeling nauseous at times.

I thought about this heaps of ways, and I have had heaps of support at work from all my managers, and yet I know, deep in my heart, that going part time has or will scotch any career aspirations I had. I knew this before I asked, and I knew this afterwards, and I know this now. I may be wrong, but I’ve had thirty years of working experience to show me how right I am.

And it made me wonder if at it’s heart, I always had career aspirations because that is what I am supposed to have? I mean, I like doing stuff, I like working, but all my internal stories and dialogue about money, income, work, career, productivity have been imposed from social sources, and as such might actually be a form of people pleasing, society pleasing?

Keeping my focused on the next career goal rather than developing myself as a person and as an individual, working in my creative stride? I used to struggle when people called me creative because I didn’t feel creative – I just worked, and every time I had my eye on the prize. There’s nothing wrong with that – it’s unfun, but it’s how we get through the life we’ve built. Writing novels was a game – a series of small goals that came together into a book. I honed my skills as part of my career aspirations… as well as the pure joy of creation.

Maybe I wanted to get promoted because I wanted that approval from authority (and often male authority.) Maybe I wanted the career and the ambition because I was sold a lie that this would make me better or more highly valued. Maybe it’s time for me to stop relying on external validation in my workplace, which leaves me feeling like I have to cut myself to shape to be the unit the system wants me to be, and start finding other sources of validation.

Every one at work is genuinely lovely, and in my current team I definitely feel like I fit in, we’re a bunch of problem solving odd balls. But with me growing so much and looking at everything I do with a more educated eye, I wonder what new epiphanies I will have. In requesting going part time, I accepted that my career is toast. I might be wrong, and that’s OK too. But it’s definitely time for me to widen the gap between me and my Protestant Work Ethic, unlearn a few things, and get rocking on this ride.

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Published by Sarah Lee Parker

Sarah P is a unique creature who writes a little or writes a lot, and loves riding the tech wave. She loves her iPad a little too much, and is currently addicted to Twitter.

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