Sunday, 29 December 2013

2013 end-year thoughts

‘For posterity, with sincerity’ – has been one of the overriding rules of blogging I am committed to obey, as I soldier on as the author of PES. If I write, I do it not only for my own pleasure, but for others, not only to let them enjoy my work, but also leave a testimony of my mindset at specific moments, in specific circumstances. If I write, I do not conceal nor misrepresent what I think or feel (unless there is a very profound reason to do so).

Since I entered adulthood (meaning turned 18) I have found the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve the most depressing period of the year. I can give several reasons that dash my spirits in the last days of each year:
- short, often gloomy days,
- in the Christmas period everything is ticking over, after pre-Christmas rush people slow down and human activity almost comes to a standstill, it seems the world is in a limbo, hanging somewhere in the space between heaven and hell,
- last days of the year naturally are the time of summaries, finishing things, making resolutions, for some reason it is the time when successes are outshined by failures.

I come to think the western civilisation has set Christmas around winter solstice and built such pre-occupying setting around it only to light up the time of the year which is naturally the most depressing on the north hemisphere. And I come to think New Year’s Day celebrations are also set a few days after, just to give a decent excuse for everyone to get tanked up…

Despite the overwhelming gloom, in each of the previous years I was looking forward to coming new year with a dose of optimism. This year I lack that cheerfulness. My feelings are not contrary to what I felt – I do not expect my life would get any worse, I just foresee little or no chance for improvement ahead.

Life-love-wise… Quite recently I gave you a brief overview of my attempts to find a second half. For the time being, I have given it a rest… Looking for a second half too intently is doomed to fail, so my strategy is to look for opportunities, instead of looking for a girl. There are odds something good lies ahead, but I don’t want to put a jinx on it. To avoid a letdown, as a matter of principle I hope for the worst. The downside of such approach is that I don’t let myself spread wings and taste the craze of having a crush on a girl, while the upside is I don’t get disillusioned when it all doesn’t pan out.

Learning-wise… Signing up for Level II was my independent decision, so I can hold it exclusively against myself. Preparations have been under way for four months, more than five months still to go. The curriculum is not as difficult as said by those who tried to scare me (if so many charter holders were capable of passing it at first attempt, why couldn’t I?), so if enough time is sacrificed and the issue is taken seriously and not treated as a proverbial ‘piece of cake’, I should take the exam in my stride. Before the exam day comes, I will have spent hundreds of hours poring over six thick volumes and then tens of hours revising the material and taking mock exams, but at least there is a tangible goal ahead…

Work-wise…In January 2013 I was faced with an opportunity to change a job. My prospective employer operates in the same industry, my new position would have been similar to the present one. I gave it up (by demanding sky-high salary and pricing out of the market) for several reasons, before the prospective employer decided to submit a commitment letter to me:
- my current employer within 2 weeks offered me a promotion and a substantial pay rise,
- scope of responsibilities on the new position did not suit my expectations – it actually involved being a sidekick of a salesperson, a relationship I can wriggle out of where I work,
- my new manager, unlike the current one, would have been a total jerk.

Before long my current workplace went on decline. From 2Q2013 the company began to lose its biggest customers, as either relationships with them had not fetched adequate profitability, or they had found our services uncompetitive. My employer’s credentials on the market has also been grimed – prime customers from the segment I deal with no longer want us to provide them services, while those in trouble eagerly turn to my company. Portfolio of large clients shrank dramatically (new volumes offset drop by less than 10%) and is unlikely to be restored, while the existing customers require more and more attention. In the meantime two colleagues from my team got pregnant and I (as an up-and-coming senior analyst) was assigned to take over most of their duties. When on top of this I got involved in a huge transformation project as a junior leader, I ended up working for 11 hours a day not to get behind with my work. Absence of new business loomed as salvation, but if an organisation focuses on itself, instead of on its customers, it will cease to make money sooner or later – with this truism in mind, my motivation dropped…

In October the prospective employer posted a job opening for a different position that seemed a dreamt-up one for me. Hoping to break away, I sent them the application, but my candidacy was turned down. The Soulmate, who has inside ties with the prospective employer, has a mission to suss out how it really was – whether my early-year game had resulted in burning bridges with the prospective employer, or the chosen candidate had been selected beforehand and the opening had been posted for procedural reasons, or maybe I just had not met their expectations. As I called the HR Department shortly before Christmas to find out what the status of my application was, and learnt they had selected a new employee, it was a blow for me…

My current job, for this single reason that my company effectively withdraws from the segment of clients I deal with, seems dead-end. According to my current employer’s declarations and recent moves, I should not expect to be fired when my department is wiped out. In an attempt to retain me, the employer may relocate me, or leave me covering all current troublesome clients, who do not stand a chance of being taken over by any of competitors. Either option is unattractive. The former because I will not find myself in project management, I will not find be satisfied doing a mundane reporting job. After all I’m a financial analyst and in the long-run doing a job that could be done by a clever high-school graduate is… beyond my dignity.  The latter because… it offers no opportunities to develop and is… dead-end. On the other hand, as the market is tough, if competitors look for staff it often means a transfer would mean jumping from frying pan into the fire… Decisions to change a job have to be taken carefully, to avoid falling into a trap. What brings some hope is that I still have some room for pay increase, compared to my current salary.

I had plans of moving out to my own flat in 2014. Over recent weeks, when I spent little time at home (leaving for work around 6:30 a.m. and coming back between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.) and somehow lost motivation to move out from parents. I’m self-supporting anyway, financially independent from parents, don’t let them help me out in any way, but living with them gives the benefit of having someone to talk to when returning home. In meantime, I keep putting aside around three-fourth of my salary, the savings will come in handy, when motivations flows back.

Christmas (politically correct ‘holiday’) period offered some respite (no working day off though): I spent time: sleeping (10 hours a day), eating (more than I usually do, but less than an average Pole does), doing physical exercise (going for at least 5-kilometre walks, going to swimming pool, riding a stationary bike), studying, in other words, catching up. Family visited us only at Christmas Eve, two subsequent Christmas days were uneventful. Much benefit for the body, little benefit for the soul. Not sustainable. May it take a turn for the better in the new year, against all odds…

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