In August 2007, I found my dream job. Or, more accurately, my dream job found me. It was totally unexpected; through a friend who had a coworker who knew someone else, I learned that there was a position available doing internal corporate communications at Merrill Lynch, in the Human Resources Communications group. The timing could not have been better — this was exactly what I needed at exactly this time.
From day 1 — scratch that, from the day of my interview — I loved it there.
I left my interview giddy. Even though my morning started out stressful — I had never, until that time, even heard of the World Financial Center, much less knew how to find it from Fulton Street — I was smiling with excitement as I met up with my roommate to hand her my suit jacket after the interview.
I don’t usually leave interviews feeling this type of joy. But I knew this interview, this job, was different. I knew it was it.
And it was.
While I loved my first job as an email and internet copywriter at Doubleday Entertainment — I was surrounded by fun people my age and we always went to happy hour and ate lunch in the break room together — this position at Merrill Lynch was the career. I had a Masters degree in Corporate Communication, and I focused specifically on internal communications within large organizations. This was my dream job.
After my first few weeks there, I realized that I did not feel that old dread on Sunday nights. I actually looked forward to going to work on Monday morning. Of course I preferred the weekends, but that sick Sunday feeling so many of us know was simply not there. I loved my team; I loved my work. I was learning so much and doing so much. I felt like I was home. I decided, at the ripe old age of 24, that I would like to retire there.
On a mid-September day in 2008, when Lehman was suddenly no more and Merrill was coming close to the same fate, the news on that Sunday evening that Bank of America bought my beloved company hit me hard. I knew, right then, that my fairy tale was over.
The changes at work were almost immediate. The head of my team took a new job. The rest of us slowly dismantled, becoming submerged into different groups within the Bank. That’s what we called it; either “the Bank” or “BAC.” And my job changed.
Even though from the surface I had a pretty sweet deal with the Bank — I worked from home, took Core Fusion classes and went out on runs when I felt like it — I was becoming increasingly unhappy and frustrated. My work, which was so engaging and challenging and fun at Merrill Lynch had become tedious and boring. I was no longer doing corporate communications. I was just updating a website, sometimes in Japanese (an annoying venture when you don’t know Japanese), having huge conference calls late at night before Memorial Day (where it is not a holiday in Japan), with practically no support. I had never met my new boss or anyone on my team, who lived in North Carolina, Tennessee and who knows where else. Needless to say, it was not fun.
Also, I was bitter about what happened and I blamed the Bank — even though without that buyout, I likely would have been out a job altogether. But I missed what used to be. And this was not it.
So when a new opportunity basically fell in my lap last fall, I took it. It wasn’t an easy decision, but because it involved social media it seemed like a step in the right direction, and I wanted out. But it wasn’t right. And once again I found myself unhappy. Not only unhappy, but questioning my decision in the first place. Did I really have it *that* bad at the Bank? Isn’t working from home and essentially making my own hours something I was lucky to have? I got to work out at any time! Take all my favorite instructors! Run!
But of course it is easy to look back and forget just how bad it was. Why is that? In some ways being able to forget pain is a great thing (from what I hear re: childbirth), but I think I would feel more secure if I didn’t look back on every aspect of my life with the fondest of memories. Everyone who knows me can remember how miserable I was. But suddenly, there I was again. Not feeling good in my career. Not sure if I made the right choice.
But less than a year later, something totally unexpected found me. Once again I found myself leaving an interview excited. And then somehow, suddenly, I had a job offer. And given the shift in my interests and career goals since my days at Merrill Lynch, this new offer was an entirely different dream job — but a dream job nonetheless.
When I got my Merrill Lynch offer I accepted it right away, on the spot. But my life and my interests and my goals are nothing like what they were in the summer of 2007.
Before I could accept, I had to really think about what my life has become over this past year, because it has drastically changed as a result of my blog, my NBC New York column and my overall interest in fitness. Accepting this position would mean longer hours. It would also mean a longer commute to a different state. It would mean being less accessible during the day. My days of 6 pm exercise classes would be over. And, depending on the needs of my fro, my AM classes would be as well.
And then of course there is NYC Marathon training — something that won’t last past November, but still, a massive, time-consuming part of my life right now — especially given all my fears.
The challenge will be finding that balance. Yes, I know it is the same balance many of you search for, or work towards, or want to find or already found. Welcome to the real world, Dori, everyone has been saying. I know. Time to grow up.
This opportunity is amazing. Turning it down was not even a consideration; rather, figuring out how I will balance everything before accepting was something I needed to do for my own peace of mind. Especially given that I already feel spread thin.
Here are my plans for balancing my new job with fitness and writing:
- Cut NBC New York GO Healthy NY column from every week to every other week
- Take lots of new classes before job begins so I am not struggling to fit in new classes while marathon training
- Maybe* write some NBC New York posts ahead of time, although I am a procrastinator and work best under pressure
- Wake up at 5:00 am every day — not just designated exercise and writing days — to get extra writing/apartment cleaning/anything else done. Accept that I am a morning person and will never, ever be productive at night. So quit trying.
- Longer morning runs will require a 4:30 am wake-up — or earlier
- Embrace the world of 7:30 and 8:00 pm Refine Method and Core Fusion classes — just because it is dark outside does not mean it is bedtime
- Quit being a baby about getting home after 9:00 pm in the winter. Deal with it!
- Take more rest days, and know that this is not only OK, but necessary — especially given my new late home arrival times
- Be flexible. Accept not being able to do everything all the time.
*10 bucks says that doesn’t happen
And then I need to balance the rest: relaxing and resting (I HIGHLY value my time spent doing nothing), watching Childrens Hospital with a cute boy (Franklin & Bash has officially been abandoned due to its general badness), seeing my friends, attending my weekly stomach appointments and, the hardest challenge of all: look somewhat presentable on a daily basis at work. No more going to work looking like Gangy.
Of course, all these changes are worth it. This is the career that I want. I have no doubt in my mind that I will feel challenged, fulfilled, worked hard, productive, inspired, creative and happy at my new job. This is the career I have been working for. Every class I’ve taken, every article I’ve written, every tweet or Facebook post, every networking event — they all led to this one opportunity.
I could continue to be unhappy for hours and hours every day at my current job but have lots of time to do my own things, or I can spend my day being productive, doing the exact thing I have been working for by doing “my own things” all this time.
The majority of our days are spent at work. Being happy and fulfilled will make me happier in everything else. Will it be harder to get to my classes and finish my writing and spend hours upon hours doing nothing as I so love to? Of course. But it will be worth it.
And finally, read my long overdue Core Fusion review on NBC New York GO Healthy NY: Dori’s Quest: Core Fusion, Body- and Life-Changer