Sunday, March 02, 2014

Thoughts from Quiet Time

Mr. Snarky's parents are in town, and they all took the kids to a museum this morning. I stayed behind, because I need some quiet time to think through what I should do next on the career front. It has been delightful, even when I was folding laundry (in the quiet! with no one asking me any questions!) and perhaps I should arrange to do this more often.
It has not, however, provided me with 100% clarity on what I should do.

Awhile back, I had a few sessions with a career counselor, to help me sort through the various things I'm interested in doing. There was a definite outcome from those sessions, and using that, I formulated a plan for getting where I think I want to be. I have been doggedly trying to execute on that plan. It is slow going, but there is a clear goal and clear intermediate steps to getting there. I haven't blogged the details because I'm not ready to have the details out there yet. "Playing the long game" is an extremely accurate summary of the plan, and I'm still in the early innings.

After Thursday went so poorly, I came home and immediately starting trying to turn up alternatives to my current situation. And surprisingly, I did- but they are not necessarily consistent with my long term plan. Or, they may be consistent, but would further lengthen the time to getting to my ultimate goal. But, as Mr. Snarky points out, a new job would probably make me happier in the short term. So I am looking at a big mess of risks and benefits and trying to decide what the best thing to do right now is.

To be honest, I'm leaning towards "stay right where I am and keep working on my long term plan." That is almost certainly the smartest financial decision. But money isn't everything, and we are very fortunate to have quite a bit of wiggle room in our finances, so it is not an obvious or easy decision.

I do think, though, that I may start a blog about management, and write it under my own name. I appreciate all the suggestions for names (keep them coming!) and other advice, offers for help, and support. I cannot convey how much these have meant to me- you guys are awesome.

If I start the blog, I will probably alternate my Sunday posts with Tungsten Hippo. I intend to keep writing about random things here. I am still on the fence about what to do about Twitter. I am currently leaning towards just posting the management things on my @wandsci account, but I need to think carefully about whether I am being too cavalier about doing something that might lead to more people I know in real life reading this blog. I don't think I write anything here that should cause problems, but... I really don't how some of my more feminist-y rants would be taken by some of my colleagues. Perhaps, though, I don't care. And perhaps I think it would be a good thing if any followers I picked up from the management focus also occasionally read something I wrote about being a mom in the workforce. Or perhaps I am crazy.

I'll keep the separate Tungsten Hippo* account, though. Writing more about management feels like a natural outgrowth of this blog, and I suspect those posts would be of interest to a lot of my readers and Twitter followers. The short ebook posts seem more specialized, and since I'm using Tungsten Hippo to learn about some marketing things, it seems natural to keep it separate.

This online identity thing is getting confusing. I am starting to better appreciate the argument to "be your whole self" but I do wonder if that is going to lead me to self-censor even more than I already do.

So, TL; DR version: lots to think about still. Thanks to all who have sent support and advice!


*Speaking of Tungsten Hippo, This week's Tungsten Hippo post is about reading to understand race better, and how if white editors and reviewers can't do that, they aren't doing their jobs.


  1. Anonymous12:25 PM

    Good luck!

    I don't think you have any bad choices ahead of you, just different choices that will lead to different paths.

  2. Being happy now is important, too. After all, it is all about the journey, so we better enjoy it.

    Could getting a new job help your long term goals in some way?

    I am working on starting my own business as an in-between where I am now and my long term goals. Right now I am balancing both, but having options makes me feel better.

  3. sorry things are so tough. and i definitely agree that being happy now is really important (saying this as a tenured academic who spent far too long working toward the tenure goal and 'worrying about being happy later. of course, tenure is awesome etc, but i should have probably stopped and tried to enjoy the road there a bit more.

  4. I am wondering
    What I do a lot, and I am sure there is some serious therapy in the cards for me along the way, is really kind of turning myself off/tuning out during the situations that really bother me but where I have a limited or no ability to do much. For instance, I get really agitated during faculty meetings; people's myopia, self-centeredness, and sheer laziness never cease to amaze me. But, we are a faculty-governed institution, and democracy is messy but better than a more hierarchical structure (which really sounds great sometimes, because nothing ever gets done this way). So I use a combination of avoiding meetings when I can, trying really hard to not speak when I have to attend, and generally avoiding any and all service where I really don't see a good, tangible purpose. I have also realized I don't actually have to talk to other grownups all that much, but students are awesome and they energize me, so I have let several collaborations die off by simply not watering them (turns out others weren't watering them either). Overall, I try to spend as much energy and time on the aspects of my work where I feel productive and energized, and I try to spend as little time, effort, and emotional energy on the tasks that I personally perceive to be a waste of time.

    Now I have tenure, so I can't be sacked to slacking off on service. I wonder how far you can take the passive-aggressive when facing the sexist colleagues and still not get in trouble. What I have done a few times in the past is completely cut off the people whom I perceive as incorrigibly negative towards me; you may not avoid working with such a person, but perhaps completely ignoring them, treating them as air, and generally as irrelevant might work?

    Anyway, as someone upthread (or maybe the previous post) said -- you do make more than half the family income, so quitting may not be the best option. I would try to minimize my own aggravation as much as possible (you don't have to be the good guy or gal, be the manipulative passive aggressive one if you can) while maximizing enjoyment.

    I have been trying to tell myself that it's a blessing being able to have a highly paid job with benefits, great flexibility, and a very reasonable work-life balance. And most people just have jobs that are nothing other than jobs, they are not careers, they are nowhere near fulfilling and don't pay very much either, and also come with awful scheduling constraints. It's OK for the job to not be all that you have ever wanted, you can devote perhaps more time to hobbies or side projects to fulfill you...

    Anyway, that would be my stream-of-consciousness comment for this Monday. I am treating myself to some early morning web surfing as I am basking in the glow of a newly accepted manuscript. Yey!

    1. Anonymous9:15 AM

      I feel the same way about faculty meetings, but I do exactly the opposite. I take them over if they're not being run well. When my colleagues behave badly, I use the same words that my children's preschool teachers use, and it works! I'm not very good at passive-aggressive, but I am good at forthright doing the right thing and pretending that other people want to be their best selves as well.

    2. but I am good at forthright doing the right thing and pretending that other people want to be their best selves as well.

      That's awesome! I think I am just too cynical or generally grumpy for that. And I probably have less energy than you. As get older I am ever more aware that my energy reserves are painfully finite, and that every draining service task takes from my science or my family time...

    3. Anonymous10:42 AM

      The sooner the damn meeting is over, the sooner I can get on with my life!

      I still avoid as much as possible, but when I do have to be at a meeting it had better get out on time and we'd better get stuff done and done efficiently. Otherwise I get seriously irritated. I'm all about, "So, what is our action item here?"

      The funny thing is, when I was a first-year prof, my actions got lots of eye-brow raises, and now that I've been here forever, people thank me after the meeting is over. (There were a few years there in the middle in which I didn't have to do anything because the chair was really good at running meetings, but that chair is gone.) I don't know if it's my advanced stature or just that people realized that efficient meetings are much better for everyone involved. Or maybe I've fine-tuned my style without realizing it.

  5. Hang in there, Cloud. I'm confident you'll find the right path.

    You may disagree with the world, but you must keep on living in it (gah, that sounded rather McConaughey-tastic, sorry). It sucks sometimes, but I hope you can at least be your authentic self at home and with real life-friends. "Being your authentic self" at work is an extremely tall order - honestly, that way lies madness. There are always going to be power struggles and office politics. Even if you started your own company and were the boss, trust me, there would still be people around whom you must be a high-self-monitor (clients, top-producing employees, etc) -- "Everybody has a boss."

    Would another internet-based hobby truly uplift your life? YMMV - I know my real life relationships have all gotten stronger since I quit blogging/spending free time regularly playing on the internet, and I'm in the best shape of my life. Best wishes, amiga!


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