Work/Life Weighed in the Balance…

Posted on October 3, 2008

A little under a year ago, when I first joined my development group at Lehman Brothers (I will shout that name from the rooftops, now that they’ve gone the way of the dodo), I hit it off with one of my then colleagues. She was friendly; as witty as she was clever – an absolute pleasure to work with. But some good things never seem to last – three weeks later she approached me with some surprising news. She had decided to quit.

“Why?” I asked. At the time, it seemed like we couldn’t have been in a better spot – a lean (6 person), innovative, highly visible team who never had a dearth of interesting projects and people to work with.

She shrugged. “My life…things here just haven’t gone as I expected.”

One year later, those words are still with me. Having been through many a rough spot myself, I can sympathize – in fact, I almost found myself repeating them to my boss in a protracted “discussion” about my working schedule. So why were my colleague and I – successful financial software developers, suddenly so dissatisfied?

The answer is really quite simple – In giving our lives to the firm, we began to starve ourselves – creatively, socially; we began to hear the echo within our increasingly vacant lives.

This past Wednesday, we met up for the first time since her departure – ironically enough, right near Wall Street, at the row of cramped bars/restaurants on Broad. Ducking out of the rain, wading through a sea of exhausted Goldman employees, we sat down, sharing bruschetta, a vegetarian pizza, and stories from the past year. What did I tell her? Two weeks after the bankruptcy, I’ve gotten pretty good at narrating the tale.

Her story was even more interesting. In the year since she left, her life has improved exponentially – she gets out more, she’s found a boyfriend, as well as another passion – raising chickens! Her new job may not be as fast-paced as those in the financial sector, but at least she gets out on time! Everything in her demeanor – her placid eyes, her laid-back smile – gave me a glimpse into the satisfaction of someone living life on her own terms.

It makes me wonder – what if I had the courage to suddenly make a change in my life. Can I transform my creative life while keeping this career, or is it time to pack it up and move on to something less…stifling?

» Filed Under Everything and Nothing, Work, Writing

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