Those of you have been following this blog since its inception will remember that the biggest challenges of the European leg of our gap year were the transition days. Well, I have just completed a transition fortnight.
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be offered a full-time position at the local university, CSU-Pueblo. I had a few things already planned (including my 3-D printing class in Boulder), so we set the start date for a Monday in late March. I am quite excited about the job, which involves coordinating grant participants and activities to create experiences designed to enhance recruitment of teachers for rural schools. I launched my own teaching career in a single-campus school district in rural Colorado (quite possibly the best job I’ve ever had), so this is an effort near and dear to my heart.
I’ve dabbled at work projects over the last twenty months, but I have not strung together more than three days of concentrated effort on paid employment. Until now. As an educator, I am somewhat accustomed to having a period of adjustment after a couple of months “off,” but this definitely took it to a new level. Also, as a grant-funded staff member, I now have regular hours, much different from the lifestyle of a professor. This job is also different in another important way–I have a single focus, since all of my tasks are directed at the goals of the grant. As a professor, one has teaching, advising, research/professional development, as well as obligations to making the university function (committees and so forth).
So what did I learn?
- I’m really glad we took the opportunity to enjoy the gap year. It has given me new perspective on meaningful work.
- Forty hours a week is tough. I think when one gets used to it, it’s just “the way it is,” so we forget how much time it really is. And many people, in this country especially, work far more than 40 hours per week. I found this article on moving beyond work-life balance to be interesting and relevant.
- If you’re going to work for money, and pursue your own dreams beyond or outside of that work, and take care of yourself and your family, you are going to have to make choices about how you spend your time. And some of those choices are going to be time/money trade-offs.
- Decision-making and creativity have limited capacity. Choices must also be made about where that capacity will be directed. That is, I need a creativity and decision-making “budget.”
I am really enjoying the new position and I survived the first two weeks, though it did kick my butt a bit. I am very fortunate: I get to use my strengths to do something I care about, learn new skills, interact with great people, and still pursue my other dreams on my own time.