Tonight’s 10 p.m. wish: That someone who reads this will take a step, today, to get out of a toxic job situation.
I’ve been talking about this issue a lot lately as I get ready to release the book about my decision to leave the television news business after a 15-year career.
All kinds of people have begun to share their personal stories with me. (“Know When to Run: Lessons from the diary of a Gen X mom,” will be available on Amazon.com August 1.)
And you know what? Jobs that are “incompatible with life” are NOT just a working mom’s issue.
This a HUMAN issue.
So many men have reached out to me and shared their stories of jobs that consumed their lives. People of all ages, in all types of careers, with and without kids, have described crushing hours and stress that were making them miserable.
After looking back at my one-year diary which has now become a book, I see there were some clear lessons revealed during my last year struggling with a job that looked awesome on the surface, but that simply did not fit family’s needs.
Here, in my humble opinion, are the top five signs you need a new job:
- Your stress level is hurting those you love.
- You are experiencing physical symptoms related to your stress. (Pain, insomnia, weight gain or loss, illness, etc.)
- Other people in your life express concern and encourage you to look at other options.
- Your exhaustion is overwhelming and crippling.
- Your “good days” at work – the rewarding and positive ones – are grossly outnumbered by bad ones.
I experienced all of those “symptoms” by the end of my television career. I had great colleagues, but the job itself made it impossible to be the kind of mother, and the kind of person, I wanted to be.
I feel so lucky to be in a dramatically happier, more balanced place with my career today. My working hours today are awesome for my family.
I get to work with kids. AWESOME, awe-inspiring kids.
I have the privilege of being a professional “storyteller” for an organization that is as rewarding as they come. (Riley Children’s Foundation, the fundraising arm of Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.) I count my blessings. Every. Single. Day.
Five years ago, I could hardly dare to picture such a happy outcome. I was too busy drowning.
Tonight, I share this excerpt from “Know When to Run”— a diary entry that captured one of the many impossible, exhausting days that ultimately drove me to seek a whole new career, and a whole new life.
Happy reading, and here’s to happier, more peaceful days for all who are in similar struggles!
“Dishrag Mama and Chalk Milkshakes”
It’s finally Friday and I feel like a dishrag that’s been wrung out thoroughly and left to dry on a forgotten clothesline; drained and empty with absolutely nothing left to give, beginning to get stiff and brittle as the last drops of moisture evaporate from me in slow motion. This is me: Dishrag Mama.
Today I volunteered to go out on a live shot for the 5 p.m. news, then returned and anchored the other three newscasts. I was out in the nasty heat and humidity, and the subject matter I was reporting on made it feel more oppressive. I was delivering live reports outside a house where seven people were murdered, including three children, recounting the hideous crime as the house was finally being demolished. The entire neighborhood has a sad, heavy feel, with lots of boarded-up windows, weeds and litter.
As I stood in front of the piles of brick and dirt where the house of horrors used to sit, I noticed strange music in the distance. It was off-key, a little slow and disjointed. A cell phone ringing? The eerie tune grew louder and I realized what it was: a makeshift ice cream truck, looking just as sad and run-down as the neighborhood, slinking down the block like a scene from a horror movie. I couldn’t wait to leave.
As I raced back to the TV station to prepare for the other newscasts, I thought about how fortunate I felt to be able to drive away from that neighborhood; fortunate that no matter how exhausting it may be, I have a job that provides my family with a safe place to live.
After the newscasts I made my typical mad dash home to nurse a wailing, hungry, and impatient baby. My “dinner break” almost never involves sitting down to eat. It’s a whirlwind of homework, nursing, baths and bedtime stories.
This evening as I pulled into the driveway I took note of the collection of junk my kids had left all over the yard: a boomerang; a wax gorilla; a miniature bunny wearing a dress; several baseball gloves and balls; a plastic tiger; a skateboard; a foam noodle; and our BLENDER filled with sidewalk chalk and water.
I guess someone had more fun on this fine summertime Friday than I did.
And I guess that’s the whole point.