Aug 22, 2007

Successful Shoe Return; Job Stress; Understanding Economics

Please pat me on the back. I walked into Macy’s to return my non-functioning shoes that I purchased for $45 last month (the heel of the right shoe somehow deflated each time I put any weight on it) and by some miracle of miracle’s I managed to walk out of the store, return receipt in hand, without making another purchase.

(Although I admit, I did eye the earring display by the door and have dirty thoughts about buying half of the items shimmering in my view).

Now, before you get too pat-happy, prepare to punch me. Five minutes or so after my accomplishment, I walked into Borders and spent $36 on two books. I felt like the books were worthy purchases though. Sure, I could go to a library to get books for free, but on the rare occasion I manage to motivate myself to read anything, I’m the type that loves to take notes in the columns. The librarians don’t really think my notes add value to the books, so it’s best for me to purchase them up front.

My goal over the next few months is to actually start reading. I have terrible ADD and I rarely pick up a book and make it through from start to finish. I’ve given up on fiction almost entirely, but non-fiction is worth my time and painful attempts to focus.

Since I’m on this personal finance kick and slightly depressed/confused/bewildered about how Wall Street works, I decided to invest in some economics for dummies-type books.

So I bought:

1) Economics: Making Sense of the Modern Economy (by “The Economist”)
2) Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations: A Story of Economic Discovery, by David Warsh

I like buying “smart people” books. My shelves are filled with them. Do I read them? No. But I do need to figure out this economy thing. It’s one subject that I’m embarrassed I know next-to-nothing about. As a business reporter, I owe my readers (and myself) a bit of a fast education on the topic.

Speaking of my profession, I won’t go into detail (since I want to remain anonymous), but I’m a bit stressed out about my new job. The job is awesome for so many reasons – flexibility, salary, the people I get to work with and meet, and above all, the ability to learn something (or a bunch of things) new every day. How could I ask for more? I know I’m so lucky to have landed in such a great position given my age, my experience, and perhaps even my potential.

Well, that’s the problem. I really want to do a good job, but it’s not like I can just complete all my projects early, take on additional projects, and seem like a great worker. Ultimately my success is dependent more on quality than quantity of my output, though quantity is important as well.

The sad thing is that even when I try to be careful with my reporting, I have a tendency to make little mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes once in a while, but I seem to do it all the time. I’m looking into going to see a psychiatrist because I’m thinking perhaps if I get on some drugs for my ADD I’ll be less likely to miss my errors. But all that mental health care costs a fortune, even if my insurance covers some of it. Then again, if it’ll help me keep my job, it’s worth it, right?

In any case, I’m confused about the whole career situation. More than anything I’m frustrated with myself for not kicking ass at my job. I don’t want to let my anxiety hold me back from success. Then there’s also the question of whether I’m smart enough to be in a position that obviously requires a high level of intellect and ability to collect, analyze and re-hash complicated information.

My boss recently criticized me for my lack of voice in my work. He said he hired me because I told him that I’m a blogger. But my writing for work has been so boring and dry. It’s lacking any sort of personality, I guess. I wonder what he’d think of this blog or any of the other blogs that I keep that are chalk full of personality. It’s a lot easier to have a voice when I’m writing about things I’m intimately familiar with, but the topics I write about are not things that are easy to understand or to explain. Maybe someday I’ll get to the point where I can write short, edgy posts with tons of voice that people would actually want to read. Until that day, I better get “good enough” so I can keep my job… and keep improving.



2 comments:

E.C. said...

I'm still going to pat you on the back. Just read those books and then report back to your loyal readers! I also want to know more about econ so I signed up for Principals of Macroeconomics this semester. However, I'm having second thoughts since the professor seemed really annoyed that I hadn't had microeconomics first, even though it isn't a prereq. I'm mostly hoping I'll remember enough of what I learned in high school.

SF Money Musings said...

little mistakes cost me my first journalism job - that's why I was asked to leave. I was on a one week trial period and even though i made no mistakes in that week, my writing wasn't strong enough that my editor felt i was worthy enough to keep around.

But just be careful in spot checking your notes, take more time and go through details, facts, spellings of names. When in doubt, call the source again or just leave the particular fact out of the story.

I don't know if the mistakes are because you're tired or stressed out but either way you can do little things - eat more brain food like almonds, dark chocolate and nuts. i know if i was tired or stressed eating junk food made my low energy issue worse.

i rarely finish a book from start to finish - my add is just as bad. the only book i did finish from start to finish was "perks of being a wallflower," a great fiction coming of age book.

as for having a more distinct voice in your writing, try playing around with different words or punctuation to emphasize your writing. reading fiction i find helps my think of creative ways to tell a story. and the knowledge in certain topics will come with time. you're not going to instantly understand it overnight but gradually.

I'd be careful with ADD drugs. we've become such a medicated dependent society and the side effects are just as dangerous.

have you talked to your mentors or coworkers? when my work was suffering one of my coworkers offered to help and read my copy and talk out some of my ideas before i started reporting.

good luck!

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