Senioritis on the job
March 19, 2011 8:52 AM   Subscribe

How do I find motivation to finish a job when I know I'll be fired in three months?

I work in a school and have a contract for each school year. The first year or two I wondered if I'd get a new contract or not, but the last few years I've just thought of this as a permanent job. I was just informed that I will not get a contract for next year. My job doesn't end until June, but I have a hard time wanting to keep working until then.

I'm not getting a contract because the position is being changed substantially, and two things are being added that I've made it clear in the past I'm not interested in. They will give me great references. I'm not worried about finding a new job.

So I've read these posts. These are mainly about how to get another job as quickly as possible with a side of how to deal with the crushing depression. I'm interested in knowing how to get past my resentment that they've eliminated the perfect job and how to do a good job in the time I have left, when a large part of me just wants to quit in a tantrum. The mature part of me doesn't want to burn this bridge and just wants to get back the joy I usually had in this job.
posted by Margalo Epps to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Here's the thing: treat every single opportunity you have for the next three months (from "get to work on time" to "agree to help Bob with his random request" to "clean up my work area and leave it nice when I leave") as an opportunity to leave everyone with a good impression. This is your network for getting your next job after the one you're going to get next, this is the crew that might help you get a permanent job that you love back at this same place in a few years, these are your future coworkers, or friends of your future coworkers. Act like you're going to get everyone, from the janitorial staff to the head of the organization, to write a glowing LinkedIn recommendation. (I actually recommend trying to get LinkedIn recommendations from everyone.)

Also, devote a portion of every day to transitional stuff - getting your area organized, bringing in donuts as a "thank you," buying starch for your shirts for when you go back out on interviews, whatever. Having something on your "to do" list that is just for you and is about the future can take your focus off the urge to throw a tantrum.
posted by SMPA at 9:06 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think this motivation needs to come from an adjustment in your whole philosophy of who you are, what you are, and how you accept things. How are you looking at the situation? change how you think about it and you can change how you FEEL about it. You had a good job all this time, you will have good references, you have a good future, etc etc. Resentment IMO is a choice, choose to see the situation differently. As for motivation, the thing that would motivate me is my own pride and integrity, my desire to do good no matter "who is looking", to go to bed at night knowing i did the right thing. This may sound cheesy but I have found it to work for me. I care because of the kind of person I want to be. I want to be someone who does a good job for no good reason (though it seems those kids that depend on your work are good enough reason anyway). I want to feel good about myself and like myself. You may not be extracting the joy you once did from this job, but ask yourself what you can give to the job without NEEDING something back. Resentment is the idea that someone has screwed you over and is a negative dead end feeling. What thoughts are creating that feeling for you? Can you change those thoughts to their inverse? If you are not interested in some of the things the job next year will entail, thats you, and thats fine. Point being so much of what we feel and experience is a conscious choice and we have a lot more power then we think. Just speaking from personal experience, but when I became someone who cared just because, for no reward other than liking myself, I became happier and more free. Best of luck to you.
posted by cerebral at 9:08 AM on March 19, 2011

As a 20+ year freelancer, all my jobs have end dates. I think that doing your best, no matter how long the employment lasts, is the key to self-esteem, respect, etc. The job might be perfect for you, it might be only so-so, and it could suck, but you and your efforts are the constant.
And you could so easily end up working with these people again, so don't take the non-renewal personally. You said yourself that the job changed and you didn't like the changes.
Leave looking good, like you're still in love and look for opportunities every day to connect with the people and the work that brought you job and the chance to shine.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:13 AM on March 19, 2011

Response by poster: cerebral: "If you are not interested in some of the things the job next year will entail, thats you, and thats fine."

I wasn't offered the job next year. I think that's because the job description has changed so much that they probably realize I wouldn't want it. Nonetheless, I did not have a chance to take or refuse this job.

And yes, the kids are a huge motivator. It's the downtime without kids that's harder. That said, I only found this all out on Thursday, so it's very new and maybe next week will be easier to work then Friday was.
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:12 AM on March 19, 2011

You said you are being fired. You're not. Your contract is ending. You've never had a permanent job there, you just let yourself fall into the habit of thinking it was "your" job and it would continue to be. Nothing has really changed, except your manner of thinking about the contracts.

This is a difficult eye-opener, but one all of us have to realize--we can't predict the future but we continually fall into the fallacy of believing the future will be like the past.

This is the same kind of dilemma we face with commitment--how can we love when love might not last. "Love is not love that alters when it alteration finds," the poet said. All we can be sure of is that change will come. Will we go ahead and love anyway, knowing it will not stay the same? Are we foolish to decide to love; do we withdraw our love when the demise of our loved one looms?

Use this three months as a real-time meditation on who you choose to be and how you choose to do your work. Use this time to show yourself and everyone there what it looks like for a person to do a job they love and do it extremely well. Show yourself (and them) what 'owning the job' looks like. It's not their guarantee of permanence that means you own the job, it's how you perform every day--leave them remembering that you owned that job.
posted by Anitanola at 11:42 AM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Every job has an end date. Sometimes you know it in advance, sometimes you don't but that shouldn't make any difference to how you do your job. You're there for the job. For the money or the people or the obligation or the privilege or the experience or whatever it is that makes you go in to work every day. Whatever that is that hasn't changed.

You say it's the perfect job. If that's true then you should savor every last minute that you have at it. Doing anything else is wasting your time.
posted by Ookseer at 11:44 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I got laid off a job I had poured my heart into. I was a contractor but hoping to get pulled on full time with the organization, my boss loved me and I loved him, it was hugely demanding, huge bucks, the highest I'd ever been on an org chart. I wanted it.

But I wasn't right for the job. I was way over my head, in not only the technical aspects of the job but also the politics -- whoa! (My boss told me that the higher you rise, the clearer the line of site is, for others to shoot at you. He was correct.) They did me a huge favor by laying me off; I'd never have quit, I'd still be pounding this round peg into that square hole, and suffering at it. I'm extraordinarily stubborn, I'd have learned all the aspects of that job in time, including the political games, probably I'd never master the job but I'd have gotten lots better at it, competent in all of it, not in my eyes but in others

I know that's not the case for you, sounds like you're doing great in that gig, sounds like it was a great fit. Is a great fit. But the situation I found myself in was like a slow-motion train wreck, I had like three weeks to pass it all on to the next poor slob, and in that time I absolutely wanted to bail out, just not show up, let them find their own way, walk out the door with the passwords to everything, blah blah blah.

I didn't do that. I walked straight as I could, I did not run anyone down nor run down the way it was all happening. It was very difficult but to do otherwise would have reflected poorly upon me, by my standards, which were then and are now the only standards which are important to me.

I'm in here to tell you that it was the right thing for me to do. As noted upthread, show up on time, do everything you can to help facilitate your exit, treat everyone well, walk out that door standing tall. I don't have any idea if it will help you in future job placement(s) but it will absolutely allow you to look yourself in the mirror.

Walk tall.
posted by dancestoblue at 3:41 PM on March 19, 2011 [5 favorites]

« Older Whiteboard calendar with individual weekly magnets...   |   Melting eyes Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.