2009 in Review: Channeling Michael Clayton

Okay, so my review of 2009 got a little derailed by Christmas festivities (composed mainly of hanging out and watching a lot of TV).

Getting back on track: This blog is mainly a personal chronicle, so I rarely address my work life here. And frankly, it’s sometimes more appealing to take stock of personal gains than it is professional ones, especially for those of us striving to have lives outside the office. It’s particularly salient for me, because I try to make a conscious effort not to let my work define me; in status-obsessed DC, my title, pay grade, and who I work for are the last things I flaunt.

But, I’d be remiss not to recognize the importance of work life to personal development. And I’d be a fool not to be grateful for the professional opportunities that came my way this year that made a significant impact on my life.

Long story short: This past summer, I started a new job at my agency. The Administration change resulted in a fairly significant shift in my bailiwick and in my job description—complete with a new boss and a new team of colleagues. I was thankful for the change. It allowed me to gain new skills and diversify my portfolio. And then a few months later, as a result of a reorg (and because God has a funny sense of humor), I was reassigned again and started another new job, this time with a significantly vaguer job description.

Archie circa 2007 would have freaked out. Archie circa 2009 loved it.

Again, I had the opportunity to hone more new skills and gain experience in areas that I barely knew existed. The learning curve was sometimes steep. And at points I felt like Michael Clayton: a guy with “other duties as assigned” for a job description and a directive to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

But this year has been professionally satisfying simply because my circumstances served only to build what I consider are my greatest professional strengths: the ability to thrive in vague job descriptions; the ability to prioritize high-priority demands in fast-paced and unpredictable environments; and the ability to adapt quickly and work with whomever I need to work with to address a particular situation.

Few of us can say that we have work lives that challenge and satisfy us. I’m grateful that I have a work life that gives me both. If that’s not providence, I don’t know what is.

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