Reflections on Work

I am a proponent of focusing on today and living in the moment. But sometimes I find myself reflecting on the past (introspective bondage – nah). I have a need to assess areas of my life in order to make sense of them and myself. Not surprisingly work is one of them. Here’s what I ask myself.

  1. Did my work/career make a difference?
  2. Am I satisfied with my work/career?
  3. What did I learn from my work experience?

reflections on workThe first question is the most difficult one to answer. I worked for high-tech companies in a variety of roles that supported hardware, software and services. I worked at corporate and I worked in the field. I have no way of knowing whether any of the equipment or software is still installed, still in service. As you know, in the tech world, things change rapidly. I’d be surprised if any of my projects are still installed. So from a tangible perspective I assume that there’s nothing out there with my fingerprints on it. However, not only does the tech world change rapidly, but it’s always progressing. I see my projects as contributing to the evolution of tech and the advancement of business for the companies I worked for and customers I supported. I also believe that my projects added value for the duration of their use. Bottom line is that I think my work/career mattered in these modest ways.

Next, what makes for a satisfying career? For me the answer hinges on what I wanted from work. That includes financial reward, feeling valued/respected, contributing to a shared purpose that I believe in, the ability to work with integrity, some measure of autonomy, enjoying the work environment and constantly learning. I was fortunate in that I got to travel, work with many different companies and technologies, take courses and work with outstanding people. Also, when I compare my career with my initial expectations, I am amazed at how things turned out. It’s true that I started with low expectations but through work I discovered ambition and self-confidence. So overall, looking back, I never imagined the career and work experiences I had. So, yes, I am satisfied. In fact, I am grateful.

Now here’s the third and final question. I feel very fortunate to have learned a lot from work and have carried it into my personal life. Here are just a few lessons I learned and apply to my life.

  • The difference and importance of long range planning and budgeting and how to do it.
  • Applying business principles (for example expecting excellent customer service from contractors, vendors, service providers) for managing our household.
  • That while results matter, it’s equally important how you achieve results.
  • Respect for individuals which includes listening, empathy and openness to change.
  • Understanding and embracing technology.
  • An interest in and appreciation of other cultures and ways of doing things. Avoid pre-judging.
  • Not to implicitly trust someone just based on their title or position. Not all leaders are created equal. Followership has to be earned
  • I’m skeptical of motives and I’m not afraid to say no.

I’d love to know your thoughts on how you view your career or what you think of my take. You can use the Leave a Reply section below.

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