You’re in…until you’re not.

You’re in…until you’re not.

My friend and former colleague said this to me the day I was let go from my job. I’m not sure if it was organic from him, or if it’s something he heard at a precise moment in time that stuck with him. But, he couldn’t have been more right. And it has stuck with me.

Although he may not admit it, he was more perceptive of the changing winds at our previous workplace than I was. And he found a new job before, as he put it, “they realized I wasn’t who they really wanted.” He left because he knew that inevitably he was going to get replaced.

Each day, my mind wanders back to my final days there and I try to think of the signs I may have missed. Did my friend try to give me more signs before he left? Did I miss some comment or gesture that I should have read as tea leaves? While I think I have convinced myself of signs that should have stood out at the time, I’m definitely not convinced it was anything I did.

You’re in…until you’re not. It is that simple. Most humans spend their adult lives working for a company. And most are ultimately a salary number in a spreadsheet. Very few reach the status where they are in charge or irreplaceable. The folks that are in those positions, at least the ones I have met, are thankful for where they are because they, too, have taken their lumps along the way. They have reached that goal because they, also, were in…until they weren’t, at some point in their life/career.

My former colleague also agreed that, though it could sound jaded, you reach a certain point where you realize you aren’t your job. Do your job, do it well, and go home. Don’t always “be” your job. Take pride it in and work hard. But then unplug when you go home and do the things that make you happy.

I was told early on in my professional career to “look out for yourself, because nobody else will.” That is another comment that has stuck with me. I think it’s smart to be selfish in the context of looking out for yourself at work. Now more than ever, I’m convinced that if you aren’t looking out for yourself at work, nobody else there will.

I just posted to this blog about family, friends and certain colleagues all reaching out to help when you may need it. Everyone has that close group of confidants and loved ones who they can count on, but those people VERY rarely intersect with someone at your workplace in the Venn Diagram of life. That’s why I do believe your employer is not looking out for you. You will be used for your job function and, at any point they see fit, you can be replaced.

I ended my last blog with the piece of advice to “Stay positive and always reflect on the good that you have in your life.” It would seem that this piece has a more jaded tone. But, the point I want to get across is it is OK to be selfish if that means looking out for yourself. Be aware of your surroundings, whether at work or in your personal life. Surround yourself personally with people that enjoy the same things as you, are positive influences on you and are there for you when you need them.

Focus on yourself and the good you have in your life. Be a better you or the best you that you can be. Concentrate on your fitness, plan that trip you always wanted to take, start that blog you were always scared to begin, reach out to that old friend who you lost touch with, or hug your child a little tighter today. If you do these things, you may remember that you are truly “not your job” but also that these things may keep you “in” at your job a little bit longer.

-Tod

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