Worklife

I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection and mindfulness recently to counter my anxiety. Along with reading blogs and articles about what could be the root of my problem. I’ve been at my company for over five years. At first, I was getting my feet wet, and then I was promoted to a position I didn’t love, I felt underpaid and under apprciated. I was promoted again and it was better for awhile and then the rut started again this more quickly than the last. I realized it’s not the job itself, it’s the culture.

I then found this article on Forbes.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2016/03/03/hate-your-job-heres-what-its-costing-you/#589b73476630

Hating your job has negative health effects.

  • Weight Gain
  • Illness
  • Mental Health
  • Stress
  • Losing Sleep
  • It will hinder your personal life
  • Lower motivation and passion
  • It can kill your confidence and self-worth
  • It’s holding you back from what you really want to do

Everything I have been feeling in one article. I’ve never been the person who needs constant praise but a “Nice presentation” wouldn’t be too much to ask. My clients love me more than my company does. I have had some call to say “hi” and ask how my day is going, I’ve never had a manager ask how my day is going…

After much self-reflection the realization that it isn’t me or the particular job I am doing, it’s the company and the culture. The churn and burn, stay until it’s done, have a quota worth millions but yet make less than $40K. The truth of the matter is, I’m just horribly unhappy and need to start looking outside my company. Some of this realization came from when I applied for a promotion and received a robo e-mail from my own company, they chose someone else. I didn’t even deserve a “thanks for applying, we had some great candidates” (There were only ten candidates they chose four). Yes, I could ask for feedback which would be proper, but I’m just done the last straw situation. I’m just a warm body in a seat, I’ve made the company over a billion dollars in my tenure but I’m just a number. (Fun story, this is why I dropped out of the first University I went to. It was large and 500 people in my class, I couldn’t learn that way.)

So now the job hunt starts, but where to start…

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Burnout + Kids = Insanity

Emotional and Physical burnout is real with anxiety or not. We try to do so many things in our life and pack as much into our daily lives as we can.

  • Work 40+ hours a day
  • Take some graduate classes
  • Raise children
  • Tend to your relationship
  • Keep the house clean
  • Never ending laundry
  • Walk the dog
  • Blog
  • Agree to attend your mother’s third cousins party
  • Call your parents
  • Have dinner at the in-laws
  • Go to the gym

The list never seems to really end. Packed into all of this we’re supposed to have some self-care. For some people, the gym is their happy place and they can knock off two bird with one stone. For me it’s rest, I need to rest my brain because it never truly shuts off. Extra sleep, maybe a massage, these things make me feel better but trying to schedule something else in is daunting. There isn’t a lot of “me time” in my life. I’ve been searching for jobs that may not be more work life balance but allows for more time to myself even if it’s on a plane, just like running away but the adult kind.

I am happily married, two cats, work 40 hours a week in a cube, going to graduate school, and currently in therapy. I do my best around the house but sometimes it’s overwhelming for me and I need to not think about it. My husband helps out a lot sometimes more than his fair share with everything I have going on. I’m jealous of him most days. He works from home when his work is done he gets free time. If my work is done at the office I still have to sit there and twiddle my thumbs. (There are very few days my work is ever done, but the option would be nice) Oher days he’s getting work calls during dinner and at night, those are the days I’m less jealous.

I seem to be on the edge of a breakdown recently. For sure physically, I’ve had a cold for almost three weeks now. I’ve put my relationship on autopilot which is the worst thing I can ever do, I’m just trying to get through the day and the next day. When I first started grad school my husband looked me in the face and asked if I was taking on too much. Although I didn’t and still don’t want to admit it he’s right. My bigger issue is I want the white picket fence with the 2.5 kids and we are at the very low end of the middle class. We don’t own a home my car is almost ten years old and I’m going to cry when it needs replacing, not because I’m attached to it, but because of the payments.

Both our parents keep talking about grandkids and I want to scream “Will you pay for them?”. And then the anxiety kicks in again. What if I wait too long? What if grad school doesn’t lead to a better job? What if we never own a house? There’s this series of events that every generation before me has had and I have no idea how they were able to afford any of it. I emptied our HSA for Invisalign because it’s too hard to floss and dental upkeep appointments were draining me. I’m too young to think about losing teeth. <- That’s what’s on my mind right now not children. But my husband is ready so it feels like I’m just standing there surrounded by disappointed faces because I want our lives to be better. If we had a child and ACA went away, even though I have pretty good company insurance, and something went wrong… it would crush us.

These are the thoughts I have. Not the happy I want to be pregnant thoughts that all of my friends have. I’m already stretched to my limits, and I don’t want to pick a fight with anyone. If I bring up my concerns I’m told I’m crazy and it won’t be like that. But what if it is…

AWS

The release of the Technostress post couldn’t have been timed better if I had tried. (I swear I didn’t take downAmazon)

If you don’t know what’s going on check out TechCrunch first: https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/28/amazon-aws-s3-outage-is-breaking-things-for-a-lot-of-websites-and-apps/

Although the exact cause has not been released the error is clearly coming out of one of Amazon’s server farms taking down the East Coast. I tell my customers Hardware before Software. Crazy idea, I know, in the era of apps and everything you could ever know at your fingertips, the software will not fix a hardware issue. The software can assist in load balances to a point, but servers are strained every day depending on what you are running.

For years the technology industry has gone crazy over “cloud”. The cloud isn’t a cloud and a horrible term but highly marketable. Your information is just hosted somewhere else and the host gets to bill you per license. Hooray for overcharging! Honestly, it isn’t that bad of a system for small companies getting off the ground but these have been marketed as a long-term solution. If you depend on your own server(s) you could still go down, but Amazon currently has most of the East Coast down; overpromising and under delivering. Most server farms have a failover plan. If a server goes down it will disconnect and go to the backup server. This brings me back to my point. This is the reason why server farms exist. Load balancing and backup failover precautions cost money upfront. Take whatever technology quote you have and immediately multiply it by two. $$$$$

Amazon is one of the biggest customers for cloud as a service. When something like this happens to the largest supplier it will most likely disrupt the market. I’ll be watching this intently to see what the cause was and what marketing spin comes out of this.

As for any of you using AWS, take some vitamin D, mediate, and hope your cortisol levels don’t get too bad. (See the previous post)

Technostress

What really happens to your body during technostress? I’m going to briefly tell you about a study done in 2012 in Australia and then pull some conclusions.

  • 20 male students participated
  • 10 in the experimental group
  • 10 in the control group
  • each participant chewed a cotton ball before and after the study to measure the cortisol levels in the body

Each participant was told to put items in a shopping cart online. (Simple enough task) Nothing happened to the control group after two minutes they were told they were done and could be on their way. The experimental group was given an error message preventing them from their task two minutes in. Researchers told the group there was an error and apologized.

The experimental group showed an increased level cortisol. Even after such a mundane task with no real urgency.

The stress hormone, cortisol, is public health enemy number one. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease… The list goes on and on.

How many times have you been at the office or in a hotel and your internet goes out? Dropped call? (I really can’t hear you right now) Tried to send an email but the file size was too large? The list can go on.

Every time this happens cortisol goes to work, trying to balance out your stress level. Maybe you were talking to a client or had to get your homework emailed in by a certain time/date. Take for instance you are using old equipment at school or work and these types of occurrences happen on a regular basis. Cortisol levels will stay elevated, you may become sicker after being exposed to a cold, your memory may not be as good, and of course the stress on your heart and body in general.

Technostress is real and can be measured, more companies should take these studies into consideration when putting off a system upgrade or software roll-out without proper training. We are only doing ourselves a disservice continuing the way we are.

What is the biggest technostress you deal with? How could it be addressed and by whom?

References:

Riedl, R., Kindermann, H., Auinger, A., & Javor, A. (2012). Technostress from a Neurobiological Perspective. Business & Information Systems Engineering, 4(2), 61-69.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

 

Technostress

Stay tuned for tomorrow when I discuss technostress and a great physiological study from 2012.

“Michelle Weil and Larry Rosen, who defined it (technostress) as ‘any negative impact on attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, or body physiology that is caused either directly or indirectly by technology.’” (Riedl, R., Kindermann, H., Auinger, A., & Javor, A, 2012, p.61-62)

Snooze & Caffiene

I could not turn off my brain last night and now have to run the day on possibly four hours of sleep. I was still aware of the time at 2 am, but know that I woke up a few times after that.

I have a lot on my mind, and living with anxiety doesn’t make it any easier. I hide a lot of what I deal with from my coworkers because I’m still trying to move my way up the ladder and break some glass ceilings. The messed up part is I get called upon for extras. Special teams, initiatives, new hire and customer onboarding, yet I can’t get promoted to save my life. Although that sounds pretentious in a way I work really hard, I know my company inside and out but at some point being “valued” isn’t good enough. “Show me the money!” I’ve had some subpar interviews I’m not lying to myself here, I was off my game, better luck next time. But there have been some rock solid ones, ones that I inquired with the hiring manager as to, why not me? Some of the answers “We had really great candidates” or “This person is already doing this job so we chose them” and I end up asking “What could I have done better?” [enter the sound of crickets]. Is some of this really luck?

It’s all about who you know right? That seems like backward thinking to me, sure it may get you in the room for the interview but that’s it. We’ve made leaps and bounds to stop unethical hiring which… YEAY! Anyone from my parents’ generation doesn’t get it. “Hard work” doesn’t get you as far as it used to. Bread costs more, and I don’t think I’ll ever own a house. I went back to graduate school to catch the edge on my resume and learn about business more in depth, something I actually lacked in my daily Fortune 500 life. More loans, more debt, I’m lucky enough that my company will help pay for it, it’s not all and they will take years to give some money. (Payment structures are the worst) So, for now, I have a ton of interest and no life trying to balance work full-time and school at night and on weekends. I need the world to stop spinning.

Wondering if the local hospital would put me in a coma for a few days to get some rest, is probably not a normal thought. That’s where I’m at, though. I have taken on so much recently I feel like I’m suffocating, and I’m not even being paid extra for all the extra projects. I feel used. At what point does my entire body break?

And to top it off, I’ve been sick for five days now.