to-do-list-pad2009 is almost over and just about every blogger, online journalist and publications is publishing an article or post about the past year. I tend to be a reflective person anyway so I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’ve done wrong, how I could have done something differently or better etc.  I think it has to do with my OCD.

I was never officially diagnosed with OCD, and whether or not I truly suffer from OCD is up for debate. I don’t wash my hands over and over again. I don’t lock the door three times before I am satisfied. However, anyone who knows me will tell you I have obsessive compulsive tendencies. I like things just so. I check my bag over and over again to make sure I didn’t forget something when I leave work. I’ll check my bank account balance four times a week in case someone hacked into my account and stole all my money.  I compulsively make lists. My “to do” lists feature sub-categories and highlighted tasks. That isn’t the crazy part, the crazy part is my need to re-write my lists whenever I’ve accomplished three or four of the tasks or when I’ve added a few new tasks to the list and it is so out of order I can’t keep track of what I should do first.

Although I probably spend an hour a week making to do lists at work, compulsive list making is the least of my OCD problems. You see, I am a worrier. I worry about EVERYTHING. I worry me or someone I care about will get some horrible disease. Then when one of my worries actually happens (I get laid off etc.) I get the crazy notion that my anxiety was actually intuition so I am justified in my worrying. Never mind that most of my worries never come true. This one thing happening vindicates all my worrying.

My OCD can either be a positive in my career or a negative. Which brings me back to the beginning of this post: for the past few weeks I’ve reflected on my career which has caused me to feel down about myself. For some reason I feel my career should be going better than it is. I feel I should be at a more prestigious company or at least have a more prestigious job. When people ask what I do no one says “wow that is cool”. A big part of me felt I am not successful and then I worry I’ll never be as successful as I think I should be. This is probably true, because I am not willing to completely give up my family life for work, yet something in me says unless I am a CEO someday I have failed. I need to be easier on myself but the real problem is I haven’t defined what success is.

And so, I’ve decided to turn this around and use my OCD as a positive driving force in my career. It’s a kind of early New Year’s Resolution and here are the details. I will try not to worry about what has happened in the past in my career. Instead, I will focus on the future and being successful. To do this I must first define career success. What is career success? I think it is different for everyone, but career success for me means having a job that allows me to use the knowledge I’ve gained from past experiences, but also allows me to find new challenges. It will provide me with mental stimulation and the ability to be creative while allowing me to write more often. It will provide opportunities to manage other people, even if they are only interns because I believe in mentoring. It will also provide mentors. Career success will also mean I have the respect of my peers and my superiors as I like being heard and listened to.  

Now that I know what I want I can and will create a plan (a list of steps) to get there. This plan will make ME responsible. I will take charge of the success. I do not need to necessarily find a specific job that will give me all these things. Instead I will work to ensure the any job I have provides these benefits. And lastly, but most importantly, I will stop letting my career dictate my over all happiness. Because when I use my OCD for good and take charge of my life I will be happy no matter what.

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