Monday, February 7, 2011

New Year, New Challenges

It's been only 3 weeks since I quit my long time job at Scotia. I had been employed in the same company with the same department for over 23 years. It beats me how I managed to stay so long at an extremely stressful job without losing my sanity. I suppose I stayed all this time mostly out of fear.

When I first started, I actually did enjoy the work, even though sometimes the work was so overwhelming, it scared the heck out of me. But I was young and full of energy back then and I took on the challenge of going through the steep learning curve. I forced myself to learn as much as possible, often taking work home where I can go over all the complex documents in order to familiarize myself with all the new material.

I was well rewarded in my early years and often given recognition for my hard work and dedication to learning more and more about my job. It turns out that the work I was involved in was always undergoing change so that even 23 years later, there is still more to learn.

Now, I didn't really mind learning new things, but over time, along with my seniority, I was expected to take on more and more of a workload and I didn't feel I was appreciated any more. I was simply expected to take on more and more challenging work because the bar kept on being set higher and higher, until I felt really really burnt out.

So why did I stay in a job where the stress level was so high that I started dreading going to work every day? Well, in fact, I did try to escape it on several occasions. The first couple of times I tried to transfer to a different department, my managers persuaded me to stay by offering me some relief in my daily tasks. It worked for awhile, but again over time, the burnt out feeling crept back in.

As I stated before, it was fear that mostly kept me on the job. The first fear was that once my husband and I acquired a mortgage, thus taking on one of the biggest debtload in our lives ever, we were scared to death of losing our jobs. So we both stayed put.

Then of course when children came along, we got ourselves nearly another mortgage in the form of childcare expenses. With the arrival of a new car, our monthly expenses just skyrocketed! There was no way we were going to leave our jobs now or even attempt to look for alternative work.

Fortunately, we stayed the course and bit by bit, we chipped away at all our debts. First, we got rid of the car payments, then the childcare expenses disappeared and last but not least, we got rid of our mortgage. That was the best feeling ever, to be Mortgage-Free!

Our next plan was to build up a large retirement nest egg by aggresively saving and investing in high quality and high-yielding securities. That was coming along nicely until the biggest scare of all happened. The stock market crashed in 2009! Again, my plan to escape the work place was derailed.

Now that the stock market has started to recover and our fears have been somewhat allayed, we finally felt this may be a good time for me to take that leap. I felt secure enough to leave my stressful job. That's not to say I'm ready for early retirement but I'm definitely ready for a change. So with that said, I gave notice at the beginning of 2011 and waded into the territory of semi-retirement. Yes, it is a little scary, not knowing what else lies out there for me, but I'm ready to take on new challenges.

So now I am looking forward to finding that dream job that is less stressful, is closer to home and hopefully one that allows for more creative input. I came close to getting that job just last week but a manager from a different department at Scotia offered me a short term contract that I was at first hesitant to take on. But then I thought, what the heck, let's see what else I can do at Scotia. It turns out this job is so stress-free and enjoyable that I may make a second career out of doing short-term contract work with Scotia for just a little bit longer. At least, with more spare time and less worries, I can more easily continue to pursue that dream job on the side.

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