The Job That Ate Linda’s Life


Rushing to Maybe...logoLinda wants to make a change.

She can’t pinpoint what type of change she wants to tackle first, or outline the steps she needs to get there. All she knows is she’s in a rut and wants out.

“I would love to start my own business but I don’t know what I would do…something cool,” she says.Linda is single, without children. This former model once dreamed of producing fashion shows. But today, she holds a middle management position in a very conservative company. She survived a recent downsizing where 700 of her co-workers lost jobs. But to what end, she wonders. With a workload that has nearly tripled in size, sales goals that have multiplied–despite the ongoing recession–and growing feelings that her current, unhappy situation is the consequence of poor, past decisions, Linda hasn’t been feeling particularly lucky, these days.

Upwardly Mobile

Back in the 1990s, anyone with eyes could see that Linda was a lucky one. Flawless skin the color of French vanilla ice cream and almond shaped eyes the color of melted, semi-sweet chocolate chips. She ran with a crowd of MBA/corporate attorney-types, friends from childhood. They frequented Bijan’s Bistro Chicago, Pops for Champagne and every other Chicago spot that was considered theplace to be and be seen.

A smart lady, Linda holds a Marketing degree from a Big 10 university. She wanted to be taken seriously by her crew, which valued brains over beauty…or at least that’s what they wanted Linda to believe. So she traded her fashion ambitions for an MBA and a corporate climb that paralleled those of her fabulous friends.

My Brain is too Full’

Linda loves movies. Before last year, she treated herself to a Saturday matinee every week. It was the only regular and non-negotiable item on her personal agenda (besides church). She could deal with a 70-hour work week as long as she maintained those two important hours to escape and recharge her creative energy.

But as her workload grew to absorb even more of her waking moments, Linda’s movie outings diminished. In fact, Chanel was the first to tell Linda about the Colorado “Batman” shootings (the night after it happened) because Linda had been too busy to follow the previous day’s news cycle.

“I have so much on my plate at work. It’s like they’re asking me to do things that are impossible, but I have to try (to achieve the impossible),” Linda says, rather stoically, into the telephone.

“You need a new job,” Chanel replies. “Or what about that business you always say you want to start?”

“I can’t.  My brain is so full (of work tasks) I can’t begin to process anything new…I’m exhausted and my head hurts.”

A Glimmer of Hope

Linda sighs then ends the conversation. It’s nearly midnight and she still has to put in two more hours of work…no, make that one hour and 45 minutes of work.

Linda fishes her favorite fashion magazine (she subscribes even though she rarely has time to read) from the stack of unopened mail cluttering the guest bed in her office. She sets the timer on her calendar, reads the “Movies This Month” column and flips through some fashion spreads. She starts working in exactly 15 minutes.

After filing her report, she’ll be able to take a four-hour nap before time to wake up and head back to the office.

What small steps have you taken to inch your way toward your dreams? Please share your tips by replying below.  

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