do you have fun in life?

I was reading a book and I came across a question it asked: Do you have fun with your life?

A STUNNING question.

My answer was no and it was weird, very weird. Why do I not have fun in life??

Because of my ridiculous focus on work in a highly competitive environment, overloaded work, and working with fear rather than enthusiasm.

I do not know when I stopped having fun…. Must be a long time…

Was it worth it? Job I mean.

I know why I work so hard – one part because I enjoy it and one part because I need my job and the security it brings.

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Do you have fun with your life?

 

what future is like

I have been working in my field in a very dedicated and intense manner in the last 23 years or so. I worked in 4 different countries, did really well considering that I am a female and have been a “foreigner” in three of these countries (ah, yes I have been insulted, discriminated, and stereotyped many times), and have a great job that I think I deserve and is good for me. Except the stress levels and negative criticism that are inherently high in this line of work and the recent very annoying uncertainty about our future economy, salaries, and retirement benefits.

At one point in my life, maybe 10 years or so, I was again strained like this re; work opportunities and future stability, was having a personally bad time, and questioned how well this line of work was working for me, the efforts I put into it, its negative consequences to my mental and physical health, and what I was feeling like doing (sadly, I had lost my interest, enthusiasm, and dedication to my career and was desperately looking for an exit for a new, better, energizing, and positive life and work experience..).

It took me around 2-3 years to turn things around, by luck I would say (so grateful), but I was so lost (it is hard to figure out everything alone) and so depressed that it really hurt. Eventually, I never re-gained my naturally “extremely intense” enthusiasm towards my career. When such a strong bond, love if you will, is hurt, it is hurt for ever. My sincere verdict.

However, when I got my current job, I was filled with motivation and was still interested in, competitive and hard-working, even though that something was missing. I did really well, accomplished the majority of the things I put into my mind as much as the conditions permitted. Of course, I could do better. I always wanted to do better. And I could not at some points, because of some reasons. Whether they originated from me or from external resources does not matter. What matters is that I have changed, I have got tired of certain things, and now I want nothing but to change many things, including the topic of my work. I am hoping this will energize me and give me yet another push.

At my position, we are free to work on any topic we like (is that not fantastic?) as long as it is a productive and relevant topic. I think as the first step, that is what I will do; try to change the topic. That requires some thinking with a neutral state of mind, so hopefully I will have some time off to just focus on this. A new topic means a new excitement, another shot at an intellectual challenge 🙂 Always exciting 🙂 Problem is I have been meaning to do this for 3 years now; what are the chances of this happening anytime soon? We shall see….

Yet, not even this erases the scary fact that slowly, one thing at a time, my overall interest and dedication to this job, especially with the negative economic climate, are decreasing. 

Previously, I considered resignation from my current position many times because of the fact that it took me quite a while (many years) to adjust to the city and the work place culture, the stress levels it creates, lack of opportunities and support needed for a more successful career, and overall boredom that comes from many little things of life. Just this year I started not reacting badly to being here. But then started the provincial economic problems and the firings…. Talking about low work-place morale… This has had profound effect on me. I really want to get out of this situation and find a better, more secure job. I know the chances to do so is low, but I keep wanting this. It is only normal to want so. It is the human nature.

A couple of days ago, I was thinking; I probably have another 20 years to work before retirement (let’s cross the fingers… hope I will be able to work till then and hope there will be retirement possible at the future economic climate).

Twenty-years…..

Twenty more years I will struggle with the high level stress, criticism, reduced levels of enthusiasm towards my work… If I am lucky enough to keep my job, of course. Constantly I will find myself in the same situation with the need to handle stress, the need to change and improve the things, longing for somewhere new, some organization better.

The idea of constantly trying these has made me feel tired already.

Perhaps it is the best time that I quit this work and start another one/another career, maybe somewhere else with hopefully less stress levels. Will that ever be possible for me? Will I be able to work out and handle the stress better one day? I doubt it, but there is always hope. Will it be a better job? More secure? In a better city?

The more I think, the less it seems possible – status quo may be better than another position somewhere else.

So, what is it that I should be thinking about my future?

Well, unless I am fired from my job, I will keep going and doing my best. I know I can do this. I will focus on having a good life and putting in a positive attitude in my position. I will keep making financial plans and saving as much as possible to somehow help secure my future. I will take it as an opportunity, should they fire me, to listen to inner myself and find out what it is that I want in life and what my next chapter in life is like.

In the mean time, I sure can look for jobs, nothing serious but like a past-time activity, and who knows maybe I will come across one that will be a good opportunity for me. Where I will feel appreciated, valuable, and respected and where my efforts will make a significant and positive impact.

Until then, I am likely to come to this point again and again.

To make this easy, I think I must trust life. As a recent comment on one of my posts said (re-phrasing) “life does not work out the way we predict it to be, sometimes it is hard to understand the turn of events until we realize that whatever happened was only the start of a better life, better experience, better opportunity.”

money: you have it or you do not have it

Many years ago, I was living in Toronto, one of the greatest cities in Canada.

Toronto is a beautiful example of multicultural/multinational city. I believe I have met with people from all over the world and it was awesome! Food was amazing, groceries were diverse and affordable, social and cultural activities were abundant and lovely, and the city was clean and well cared for. It was good to be in Toronto 🙂

Like any other big city, however, it was  expensive to live in Toronto, especially the rent. When I was there, I had a contract position that paid no benefits and a limited salary. While I had no luxurious life style, as a single person I had to be very careful with my money. Despite this I had accumulated debt in the first few years. I handled it better after that time. This was the first time that I had ever had debt in my entire life.

As a highly educated and hard-working professional, I was uneasy about my job and the finances, and was constantly thinking that I was deserving better. I kept thinking that I did not have enough money…..

Well.. Until I got fired from my contract job.

Getting fired is a horrible feeling. What was I going to do? How was I going to handle the rent? Living expenses? How was I going to find a job?  I was given a 4-months of notice so I still had time but this did not prevent my anxiety over the blank future.

The same day that I was fired, I remember looking at a bunch of coins I had found in my pocket; I had slightly over $3 and for the first time in many years I had thought “I have a lot of money. I can buy 3 cans of beans with this and eat for three days.”

That was a sad but profound experience. I had understood the value of money….. I started a tight budget, I moved to a cheaper rental, and I cut out my daily expenses by 40% or something. I appreciated everything I have had and every single dime that ended up in my purse.

A month before I was to leave my work place, miraculously I was offered a better position at the same place and stayed there for another year. I was very grateful for this opportunity and I had felt rich 🙂 But I did not relax my budget; I kept going. While I still needed to look for jobs after a year, I decided I would keep my budget and save as much as possible. I found some kind of enjoyment and peace of mind in these savings. After that job, I found another one for a year and I continued my frugal life and savings. These two years were the toughest years in terms of finances, yet also made me aware of the value of the money.

I am not sure what prompted me to remember these today, but I am grateful for the experience. After I have found my current job, I continued my frugal life a couple of years but later I relaxed again and started spending more than I should have. That lasted until I purchased my home, which hit me in the head hard. I needed to reduce my spendings significantly if I wanted to keep my home and my mental sanity. So, here I am into a 10 months period of budgeting again. And it is going more or less well.

I am grateful for the financial hardships that taught me valuable lessons; I am grateful for myself for caring about my finances and for learning; and I am grateful for life and people for giving me the opportunities that helped provide me with a comfortable life.

fear of death, and the need to change and live

It has been over 6 weeks that my dad has died.

The pain of loss and the regrets I have are one side of the coin.

The other side is about me having faced the reality of death and realized how real and inevitable it is. How lonely and scary it is… And how unknown, how anxiety creating it is.

Death puts life in a different perspective, my friends.

By facing my dad’s death, I also re-faced many things that I have been ignoring for a long time. For example: I ignored my own life by going around my comfort zone, I overly-protected myself, I have not dared what I could that would possibly make me happier. I have failed to change my life in a way that would make me feel complete, excited, joyful, and happy.

These regrets are because I needed to prioritize one way over the other (for instance; working in another country away from my family was a choice that I have made. I have got a great and meaningful job, but the time I spent with the people I care most about is limited… That make me ache now). I now prioritize my financial well-being, which prevents me from moving out of my work, out of the city I live in. Ache.. Ache.. Ache..

But should I continue with these priorities? That is an important question.

…………..

By facing my dad’s death, I realized life was precious and transient, and I too will lose it one day. That scares me and feels depressing…. No wonder all these centuries the human as a whole has made the extraordinary effort to find a meaning in life and ways to cope with death.

Not surprisingly, with these depressive thoughts came abroad all my feelings and thoughts that I knew they existed but were ignored anyhow. One though and regret stands out: I have wasted parts of my life and if I do not wake up soon and do something about this, I will continue the rest of my life with this regret.

I usually wake up with this thought in my mind. It is like a daily reminder that this could be just another day that I will continue to miss my life unless I do something about it. And I do not want to miss life anymore.

The problem is: I do not know what to do about it and how to turn things around.

I think about quitting my job time to time (I wrote about it some other time), which I believe will force me to take the necessary steps for a chance of better life. But, having no financial stability and the prospect of financial hardship is a strong deferrant (I wrote about that, too). I can of course find a job first and then quit my work+life here, but for some reason I do not work towards that, either.

I have another option of course, making my life here better. I just do not know how.

I feel stuck.

I over and over come to this same spot. At these times, the only thing I am left with is to believe that everything happens for a reason (eventually for a better outcome) and when it is the time, things start rolling.

I am in the waiting mode right now, but I will be looking for opportunities that can change my life for a better way.

 

 

economy, job security, and life choices

The economy does not look good where I am and there are talks about cuts coming quite soon so that our province can start paying our huge debt down. Of course as one of the government-backed institutions, my workplace is at risk too and things, to tell you the truth, do not look good for us, my colleagues, or my institution.

When there is little money/resources, the demand is higher. And money is so essential for everyone that it just makes the cuts and the fierce demands to relocate the cuts from one place to other, escalating quite fast. I was looking at the news and looks like my institution in so many ways seems like the one that will get some cuts. The end results will not be nice.

The fact that we are working in a small place and trying to reach and deliver a national or worldwide standard in our workplace does not come easy. We are often understaffed, our resources are limited, and these mean there is quite a pressure to overwork to get to the expected results/deliverables. Our salaries are also less than our peers in many other provinces. But when you look at the numbers and compare our salaries with other workers in the province, many people think that we are over-paid and that is unfair. As a result, many people now demand for cuts.

I do not blame people for wanting to cut unnecessary expenses (which I believe should BE done), but I really do not understand why it is the salaries (unless unjustifiably high) that gets the most reaction. I am making a decent salary but have been working very hard to do what I am doing. I know when compared to other institutions, our salary and benefits are not as good. Yet, here I am trying to make the best out of my capabilities, skills, and the limited resources I have access to. I try hard and I work hard. But then many people do these, too….

Honestly, I am scared of the cuts and the future of the economy. I am scared of having less and less in the future while the demand and pressure for work increases. I am scared that they will start laying off people, who were hard to get here at the first place. I am scared that the quality of work done will reduce substantially. But I am not that scared if they lay me off with a big fat cheque or severance pay (lets say a net pay of my 10 years of salary or something. Right – I am dreaming). As a matter of fact, if my institution agrees to give me a nice sum of money and possibly a small pension plan at my retirement age, I thought for a minute that I would be the first one to volunteer for it.

Why?

I am already fed up with the lack of opportunities and excitement here, presence of discriminatory behavior, and naturally I am longing for a better life. I am not sure whether I can make it better in my next city/work place, but honestly that could be an opportunity to have a new, better life nevertheless. I so far remained because of the job stability I have had and the pleasure I got out of my job. Overall, things have been fine, not great, but fine.

I do not wish hardship for anyone with their life, especially with their finances. It is not my fault that the economy is unstable and all of a sudden my province accumulated a lot of debt. It is also not my fault that I have not completely loved where I am. but if there will be a hardship on me because of the budget cuts and increased pressure, I would rather see it as an opportunity if I can also get something nice out of it, like a financial compensation. Without the compensation, though, it would significantly derail my life, especially financially.

So I better be careful with what I wish for. I would and do prefer financial and job security over excitement in the future. Just like what I have done so far in the last 6-7 years. So, I wish the cuts will not lead to lay offs and significant cuts in our salaries and benefits. I wish we all can pull this off somehow. I wish a better judgment could be made as what was unnecessary or necessary and the budget cuts could be placed fairly and appropriately. I wish nobody would lose their ability to put a shelter over their head, meal on their tables, food in their stomach, and most importantly their hope for their lives and future.

I had not realized how important the economy was until today.

 

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