By May this year, I would have been working for 13 years, 95% of it in the BPO industry: tech support for seven years, documents support for four, collections quality analyst for five months, and now human resources support. For the longest time, I have merely seen it as a means to an end: I work, I get money, I buy things. Wash, rinse, repeat. I kept telling myself that this is temporary, that I just need to bring food to the table, to help raise my (then) baby nephew, to help my little brother through school. One day, someday, I told myself, I’ll get out of this and go to art school…
Five years went by, then ten. I confess to feeling bitter over the idea that my parents didn’t “let” me attend the fine arts workshops so that I could pass the talent tests for art school. I started blaming myself for not working hard enough at drawing or singing. I came to point when I told myself that if I can’t have what I want, then I’ll hate working, and that I’ll do everything I can to make the world bend around me and make them see that I am an artist.
My workplace then had a very active employee engagement program, and I was a very active part of both the choir and the arts group, and the Bible study group. I looked forward to rehearsals, meetings, and sharing reflections. I reveled in preparing for competitions and events. I enjoyed the attention being “busy” over my passions got me. In the back of my mind, however, I knew that I was neglecting my work — you know, the one I was actually paid to do. I had developed a skewed sense of entitlement.
Of course, my higher-ups didn’t turn a blind eye to that. I was served a Personal Improvement Plan, better known as a P.I.P. It has gained the reputation of being a precursor to a termination — like getting fired, but being done so as a slow burn. Despite its very descriptive and obvious name, my entitlement I saw it the negative way. I became a spoiled brat at a very wrong time. Instead of facing what I needed to “improve” in my behavior and character, I decided to run away.
I quit that job, and found another one. Another one with a choir, with interest groups, with employee-headed pocket workshops for languages and calligraphy. But as I’ve mentioned before, I got laid off. It took a while for me to get another job, because I kept on looking for one that would give me what I want. I wanted the lazy job with the high pay, incomparable benefits, and would allow me to play. What a jerk, right?
Yup. And that jerk was me.
I struggled to understand what was going wrong, when in reality, the question was: “What is wrong with me?” I am convinced that I was in the crucible of God’s workshop, but I expected that crucible to be a spa session, apparently.
It took two job hops later when my skewed perception was shattered: October 2016, I was served another P.I.P. For all my talk about “Work is love made visible…“, I hadn’t been practicing what I preaching until I came across Rachel Ong’s video on Facebook. It then hit me:
- Work is the crucible for my character;
- Love (for work) is expressed in faithfulness;
- And love is the foundation of all relationships — even working relationships.
I used to anchor my reasons to stay in a job on just three things: purpose, pay, and people. Don’t get me wrong, they are valid guidelines on whether or not you accept or leave a job; but after signing my fifth contract, after being given a wake-up call in the form of the second P.I.P. in my entire career, I had two choices: run away again, or fight.
I chose to fight, and the opponent was my old entitled self.
November 2016 was the decisive moment for the P.I.P. As I write, I have gone through the Christmas season, was paid accordingly, and I have not been told to leave. The next hurdle is the end of my probationary contract in March this year, but I would like to look at this as a victory. It’s one in that I was able to fulfill what my higher-ups ask of me through the P.I.P., and it’s summed up in what Ms. Ong says in the video above: do a good job, and do a good job daily.
The Book of Daniel had been my companion all year. While I had been wallowing in my entitlement, Daniel embodied faithful service, and his faithfulness was rewarded by God by making him flourish. Learning to love my job — to go back to the basics, to do good, to do what is assigned to me and to do them well — has refreshed me. I felt like a beginner again. I felt the same enthusiasm I did on the first day of my first job. God urging a change in my perspective has given me a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction that I had not been able to muster on my own in a decade.
As I write, I can truly say that I am happy with my work, not because of things I can count, but because I know that God’s not done with me, and that I am being prepared for the next step, wherever that may be. I am not in a rush to pack my bags and run away again. I will stay and savor whatever I am meant to learn and impart. I will go where the pillars of cloud and fire will take me, faithful in knowing that wherever I am and whatever situation I find myself in, I am in God’s hands and it is He that I ultimately love and serve.
It is with this mindset that I look at 2017, and how I am framing this series of blog posts of the things I have taken away from 2016. I hope that what I shared could give you some perspective on how to deal with the spectrum of work situations, whether or not you’re a person of faith or of a different creed. Work can be a pain, and oh, how I know the joys of being able to stay in bed and indulge in sleeping in, but I hope that this might give you an idea on ways to cope — and flourish.
That said, have a good day!