psychology, Work

On Taking A Breather

This week I had an epiphany…. that I’m pretty hard on myself. It’s not the first time I’m realizing this, but it’s becoming more clear. While I was washing out my breakfast dishes (oatmeal!) today, I thought to myself, “why is it that you always need to be DOING something?” My internal conversation just moments before had been musing all the things I can (should, let’s be honest, that’s what I was really thinking) be doing with my free time. And lately I’m feeling a bit down. Am I feeling down because of the winter dragging on, like blogger Laurie of the Three Year Experiment writes about?

Or is it the vast amounts of free time I now have and my subsequent desire to fill it? My schedule has recently opened up again after a few months of working long hours at two different jobs, and my brain has rushed to fill in the gaps: write a book! study to get your driver’s license! (car buying: it’s just a matter of time!) catch up on doctor appointments! write way more blog posts! learn new songs on the guitar! come up with business ideas! Work On Yourself! make a career plan! Basically, do more and be better.

Worrying about doing authenticity better? Classic, Spencer. 🙄

Can you see how it’s exhausting inside my head? I finally had the realization that I need to let myself get bored. All the gaps don’t need to be filled. That previous daily routine and structure I had were great, I actually really enjoyed the predictability of each day. But not having that full schedule doesn’t have to mean anything about me. What am I worried about anyway – that I’m going to suddenly lose control or get depressed? That I won’t be Good Enough if I’m not busy? Honestly, my greatest moments of creativity usually come from a period of disconnection and “boredom.” (I don’t get bored easily, that’s why I put it in quotes.)

Backing up a bit… until a couple of weeks ago, I had been spending every Tuesday to Saturday for the last 3 months working in customer support at YNAB. I got to peek behind the curtain of my favorite app/software company! I got paid to help answer people’s budget questions! I was thrilled to have been brought on to the team. There were around 18 of us in total, and this week I learned just how fortunate I was to have been chosen: there were over 2,000 applicants. Fierce competition.

Here’s a video/podcast interview between YNAB’s founder and its hiring manager Emma on how to get a job at YNAB. What’s the secret to getting in? They talk about how Emma hired our team!

So not only was I honored to be chosen to be part of the team, but I was also treated with extreme kindness and respect during my time as a seasonal support specialist. Everyone was so helpful and genuine with each other, and that radiates out to the level of support that customers get. Every day I would see messages from customers effusively praising the quality of support that they received, messages of gratitude, messages of ” I got my finances and my life together thanks to your app!” It really keeps you going to see so much positivity. Of course, the dark side of customer support is obviously seeing that the product doesn’t work for some people, or dealing with frustrated customers. That’s true at all companies! But what I love about YNAB is their dedication to empathy and kindness. Many a frustration has been diffused with the empathetic and expert assistance that these support reps provide.

What did I notice about myself during this job? Well, like I mentioned, that I’m hard on myself. I had to really work hard to not engage my own negative self-talk when I ran across questions I couldn’t answer, or when I felt I should be doing better. On the other hand, I noticed that I was able to learn how to navigate several different platforms to find answers and create support tickets. I noticed that I really paid attention to data and statistics: seeing the number of customers that were helped, the number I helped, their satisfaction levels, I loved knowing all of that! I noticed that I like working in a team, but it takes me a little while to warm up and feel totally comfortable with my teammates, even if (and when) they are all fantastic human beings.

New life goal: spend all my time eating medjool dates from Mercadona

So now the season is over and I’m back to Just One Job – a job I really like! I mean, today I got to talk in depth about Americans’ love of peanut butter and why the English expression “the straw that broke the camel’s back” exists when there are no camels in English-speaking countries. But all that mental energy I had summoned up for Job #2 (that kept me bouncing away on my exercise ball) has no outlet, and now my brain wants to latch on to something else. I’ve decided, as of today, that it’s officially Not Time To Do Things. I’m going to watch some episodes of This Is Us on Amazon Prime, do some journaling, continue running and my other healthy habits, and just let myself be for a while. Let’s see what interesting ideas come out of this moment of rest. (Hopefully these ideas won’t involve Capitalizing All The Letters.)