Attitude Adjustment

May 27 2017 Published by under Uncategorized

So many things in my life are colored by my expectation and attitude. From when I was, I dunno, a middle schooler, my parents would tell me to try to be happier. Smile more, they say; don’t be such a sourpuss. One of my rather large flaws has been to get stuck on a certain thing and not be able to move past it. My partner, bless his soul, has taken the brunt of this often stressful reaction. I don’t know why it is that relationship that means the most in my life that I put to the test the most.

So, every few years, I try to make a resolution to really put that part of my personality under the microscope. For me this time, it involves several things: relationship, being a mother, family, and work. Below I discuss a couple of these things.

With my relationship, things still feel like they are in the adjustment phase after having a child. And, I do feel like I have made some headway in the “being too critical and upset” department. But, unfortunately, I think it is because I simply just don’t have time to worry about anything but eating, sleeping, trying to workout, and the catch up on the day basics. I often don’t have the ability or time anymore to worry about who is going to plan dinner, or take care of the dog. Whoever gets there first, and if it becomes urgent, there is just simply less sleep to be had. So, having to let go of things out of necessity over the last year of being a mother has had an overall positive effect on my relationship because I just don’t have the time to worry about some of the small stuff anymore. I am simply thankful when my partner takes care of something that I don’t have to feel overwhelmed with managing everything.

Work, on the other hand…. there is room for growth here, and I feel like I am going in the opposite direction. When I started at government job a few years ago, it was like heaven compared to being a postdoc in terms of available time for family and pay. And the work is extremely interesting to me. I was so confused about those coworkers who fit the stereotype of government workers – always complaining about how the system is so unfair, and how they are going to rebel by just not working as hard. It was beyond me at why they seemed to make everyone’s life harder (including their own) by being a pain in the ass. Well, here I am a few years later starting to understand. This I find my self stuck in this negative thought process of being inconvenienced and not appreciated, and feeling slighted. However, past me would have been completely understanding of this situation, and laughed off the mishaps of the week as being innocent misunderstandings that have minuscule effects on my life. I have learned to be as informed as I can about govt policies and procedures because no one else is going go to bat for me, except me. But really, my situation is no different now that it was a few years ago, so why am I starting to make mountains out of molehills? I guess because when everyone else is building up all these mountains around me, I feel pressured into building my own mountains. But there is no need to do that. I need to push back against this a a lot harder; shift my attitude.


One response so far

  • David says:

    In my experience, the environment at many gov't jobs leads to this attitude. My lab should be an awesome place to work (and it is), but nearly every person here, within a few years, begins to complain excessively. And it grates on me and other coworkers who want a positive work environment and who know how lucky we are to get to do what we do.

    During a keynote talk at a conference a few weeks back, the speaker was comparing the risk appetite between for-profit companies and gov't regulators. The topic was making a business case for using a new technology. What was interesting is the definition of risk. For a company, risk has a positive side, usually called opportunity, and a negative side (upside risk and downside risk). On the upside, a company can make a lot of money with the new technology. For regulators, in the mind of the speaker, there is only downside risk. If you approve a product and it works, you simply did your job, no bonuses, no kudos. But if that product fails, you might see your name on the front page of the Washington Post. And so gov't folks become risk adverse.

    I think the keynote talk and what you described are related. If I work really hard for the gov't, it get more work to do in the future and the same raise as the slacker next to me (maybe a 1% higher bump, maybe). If I do nothing, people stop giving me work and I get the same raise as the person next to me who is doing their job. [And virtually all the other perks are the same: same amount of leave, same amount of training, etc]. The incentive for hard work isn't there. There is a very limited upside risk/opportunity. So over time you become pessimistic and build up those molehills. If anyone knows who to address this, within oneself, I'd love to hear it. Because I'm way too young to be as demotivated as I am right now.

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