Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Trade Offs

Mimi had a post today that touched on the trade offs she is making as she looks for a new house. I had been thinking about some trade offs I recently made, so her post resonated with me, and made me decide to post about my recent decision.

As I mentioned earlier, I started a new job last week. I'm sure in time that I will find reason to complain about it, since no job is perfect. However, I am also reasonably sure that I won't be complaining about the route I take if I want to take a lunch time walk. If I take a 40 minute walk, the view for roughly 30 minutes of it looks a lot like this:
(I took this picture at lunch today. That's Torrey Pines State Park in the background and Torrey Pines Golf Course in the foreground. It was a bit hazy today, so the ocean isn't as striking as it is on some other days.)

The view on my walk route at my previous job was a busy road. So the new job is definitely an improvement in the walk route category. In other categories, though, there were trade offs. I previously wrote about my 35 hour work week and the fun days that this let me have with Pumpkin. That has come to an end- I have a standard 40 hour work week at the new job. In fact, I'll probably end up working a little more than 40 hours per week at the new job, because that's just what you do at this sort of job. (However, it won't be insane hours- I have never done that on a regular basis, not even during graduate school.)

The new job pays a bit better, but the pay differential is not enough that I would have given up my 35 hour work week for that reason alone. The real advantage of the new job is that it is interesting and challenging, and my old job was, well, a bit boring. I'd been unhappy at it for awhile. When I first found myself unhappy at work, I scheduled a series of sessions with a career counselor who helped me figure out what I really want in a job. She had some interesting techniques to help me discover this, like having me write little stories about times when I was particularly happy at work and helping me analyze them for their similarities. It turns out that the most important thing to me in a job is that I get to work on hard, interesting problems. I hadn't had that at my old job for awhile. I delayed the inevitable a bit by taking the big trip and then maternity leave, but by October of last year it was obvious that I needed to move on.

So I traded an my extra two days a month with Pumpkin for an interesting job* (and a nicer lunch time walk). I'm not sure I've completely come to terms with that trade off, but I am sure that it was one I had to make.

*There is a little bit more to the story, of course- the old job was moving me more and more away from my scientific field, and I felt that if I stayed there much longer it would have been harder to get a job back in my field, doing the work I love. But I probably could have waited another year. The thing that pushed me to run a job search when I did was my boredom at work.

And yes, I realize how incredibly lucky I was to have a job that gave me such flexibility when I came back from maternity leave, and that allowed me to take a leave of absence for the big trip. What can I say? That part was great. But being bored for 8 hours a day was not.

1 comment:

  1. I think that if you are going to be away from the baby to work, you really should enjoy what you are doing. Otherwise, it's just not as worth it.

    We all make trade offs in different ways. I hope this one works out great for you!


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