Friday, January 08, 2010

This morning I watched the Today Show and saw an interview with Gretchen Rubin, the woman who wrote the book The Happiness Project. I had not been familiar with her work before, but I found it very interesting and motivational. (If you want to check her out, her blog can be found at In fact, she's the reason I've picked up my blog after a five month hiatus. (More on that in a second.) The aha-moment I had as I listened to her was that I am wasting a lot of time in my life while I try to fix my career, or whatever else I'm focusing on. Every day is precious and I need to live in the moment. Not that I'm going to stop working on my career, it's just an attitude adjustment.

Today, I'm going to briefly catch up the blogosphere on what I was doing the five months I was silent. Then I'm going to commit to writing a lot more frequently as I try to focus on what I'm actually living each day.

Here's the missing five month scoop: The new sales position I wrote about with such satisfaction in August has turned South on me. In October, the company did away with the guaranteed draw program, so it is a 100% commission job now. In that same time frame, the rates on annuities started moving downward again. So I found myself in the position that I was generating a steady trickle of absolutely new business, but virtually no rollover business. And as I got to understand the industry more, I learned that rollover business is where one actually makes a living. Usually, that's fine, because every few years there are newer, better products that clients can actually benefit by moving to. In today's strange economy, that's not always as true.

In addition to that I had a sale where the client's spouse asked for a divorce between the purchase of the annuity and the end of the "free look" period. The client cancelled the purchase in spite of all my efforts to show that taking a loan against the annuity actually served him better, so that commission was reversed. That put me in the unenviable position of owing back more commission than I was now earning. And I had been warned that business would come to a near standstill between Thanksgiving and New Year's even in the best of years. By November things got to looking so dire that I went to a temp agency and sought a temporary office gig to provide us cash flow into the holidays. I ended up being assigned to the Girl Scouts, where I worked for six weeks. Though it was low paying office work, it felt good to be actually productive every day, and to see some kind of money flowing in each week. That ended just before Christmas, and I was able to enjoy some thoroughly satisfying time with my husband and son over the holidays.

Now the new year has started and I have to figure out what to do next. I haven't given up on the sales job, but I'll admit I'm deeply discouraged. I'm not sure I can build it to the point it generates a living within a timeframe that my family can afford. On the bright side, though, the temp agency called yesterday to say that the Girl Scouts have requested me back for 20 to 25 hours a week to work on a project for the next three months. I accepted, which means we at least have some sure cash flow to look forward to.

Thus I have the luxury of a little breathing room while I figure out my future. When I was younger I was very driven and very plan-oriented, but at this point in my life I feel more like I need to see where the universe leads me. My only "plan" is to concurrently work on the sales job and keep my eyes open for something else out there that seems like a good match for me. I know that I no longer want a volatile, executive level position. I like to work hard, produce well, and feel I've made an important contribution, but I'm no longer interested in 60+ hour weeks and sacrificing everything else in my life to the job. I know I'm an excellent communicator and planner, but I also know I need some administrative support if I'm to juggle a lot of detail-oriented projects. I can build rapport with a wide range of people and am almost always well-liked and well-respected in the workplace. I dislike office politics and game playing and am usually seen as a candid person with caring and integrity. And if I leave this sales position, I will never, ever take a commission sales job again.

I have always loved to write, so I am going to resume a regular blogging discipline. I have some other ideas about how I'm going to live this year, too, and I'll save those for future entries!

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