Groundhogs Day


Today I recognized a pattern in my work life – and wondering what lesson I have in front of me.

My career has been a series of Fixing Stuff.  I come in to an absolute or near-disaster mess.  Spend about 18 months fixing it, and then move on. My last employer (the Evil One, but not the one you are expecting) was the first job I stayed at more than 2 years.  I was there for 6 – and had plenty of projects come across my desk that involved Fixing broken Stuff.

I’ve been at Microsoft for 3 1/2 years.  Holy cow the time that has gone by!  I spent my first 18 months working on a new HR system.  It wasn’t necessarily Fixing Stuff, but it was implementing new systems and new workflows to better align the review process.  It was a hard project, atypical to cut my teeth on (or so they tell me). 

The next 12 months I was on a different HR-related project.  This one was much better, not as painful.  Plus I had a vendor working with me that was totally on their game (side note – also lots of vendor experience in my past, the good ones are few and far between).  That said, there was an internal group I had to partner with.  It was painful.  It was grueling.  It was the same exact meeting in different presentation over and over and over and over and over for 12 freaking months!  Somewhere along the way, two key stakeholder coined the Groundhogs Day label.

If you are not familiar with the movie – Bill Murray plays a TV reporter that repeats the same exact day every day until the “spell” is broken.  He learns how to manipulate the day.  How to each ice cream sundaes every meal knowing it won’t impact him.  How to catch items doomed to fall and break.  Essentially, the SAME day over and over with with different presentation.

Ergo – my 2nd project at Microsoft.

Then I moved to a different org.  I’ve been here nearly 11 complete months.  Today – it hit me during a meeting that I am, again, living in Groundhogs Day.  Do you have any idea how freaking hard it is to get anything done?  How to move forward?  When people keep wanting to go back and revisit conversations and decisions every month?  It’s no wonder the state we are at with this project.  Who can move forward when we are repeating ourselves?

I took a personal/professional development class series shortly after I moved here.  A few themes from those classes keep popping up in front of me in this job.  Things like…

  • I attract to me that which occurs
  • I will repeat a lesson until it’s complete and then move on
  • How am I creating tangible, measurable results?  And if I’m not, what blockers are in my way (self-imposed or otherwise)

Something is right in front of me.  It could be as simple and tweaking a solitary dial.  It could be as challenging as a complete career assessment and redefining where I’m going to go next. 

One of my (frequent) coping mechanisms is to ignore what I don’t want to deal with.  Between Norman and my close friends, not much in my personal life escapes conversation.  It may take awhile to get there, but it happens.  Professionally?  I’ve been in auto-pilot mode for so long.  I’m one of those fortunate types that just falls into opportunities (or shall I say attracts them to me).  Question is – do I want to continue down this path?  Or is it time to shake things up and see what’s next.

Interesting questions for myself.  Particularly when yesterday 2 co-workers asked if I wanted to get together so we can each interview and brainstorm with each other to identify career paths.  Should be an interesting coffee talk this week.

Hope to provide an update on this at some future point.

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