Sunday, February 27, 2011


I've been transitioning into a new role at work, one that is as yet not clearly defined.  I'm still doing a lot of the same things I've been doing -- namely therapy -- but the idea is that I will also have some time to do other things (like training, program development, research, etc.).  I'm taking part in a new division that is still in the development stage.  Since we aren't completely up and running I haven't been exactly sure how I'm supposed to fill my free time.  The other day I sat down with my supervisor, who encouraged me to take some initiative in defining my role and identifying tasks or projects to take on.

I was caught a little off guard by my supervisor's instructions.  Take initiative.  Hmm.  I remember a time when I didn't need to be told to take initiative.  I used to be full of ideas and eager to take action.  I used to relish the opportunity to use my imagination and to come up with new ways to do things.  Yet, here I've been for the last couple of weeks with a significant amount of free time on my hands and what have I done with it?  Absolutely nothing of value.  What happened to me?

I think I've become either disillusioned, complacent, or both.  As I explore this a little further I realize that the two states of being -- disillusioned and complacent - are quite different from one another.  To be disillusioned suggests disappointment upon discovering that something is not as good as you believed it to be.  Complacency suggests almost the opposite -- satisfaction with the status quo.  Disappointment and satisfaction are not things that tend to go together.

For me, the disillusionment definitely came first, early in my career.  My first job was in an environment where my ideas were routinely ignored and the welfare of my patients was always less important than the company's profits.  I initially made an effort to do some things differently but I received absolutely no support and the changes I had in mind were not things I could do by myself.  After a while I became discouraged and quit trying.  I had started out wanting to make a difference.  Eventually I concluded that it really wasn't possible, at least not where I was at the time.

Things improved significantly when I switched jobs a few years later.  I was relieved to be in a place that allowed me to interact with my patients in whatever way I thought was best.  I focused on improving my skills and on growing as a professional.  When people asked for input about the department (or the "system") however, I stayed away.  I didn't want anything to do with the "politics."  I just wanted to do my job.

Is that complacency?  I didn't think so before, but maybe it is.  Maybe it's not enough to focus all of my energy on change at the individual level.  I hesitate to make the effort to go beyond that though.  If I invest my time and energy and it all comes to naught will I become disillusioned all over again?  I remember the depression that ensued the last time I realized that the status quo wasn't budging.  Do I want to open myself up to that again?

So now I am being asked to take initiative.  I wonder if I still have it in me...

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