Reflections On My Promotion At Work

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

This might be a lengthy and boring post for the 3rd party reader but for me, it was an incredible event in my life and I am hoping that by sharing my story, someone in the same predicament will find some inspiration and hope.

2017 had been an eventful year for me at work. 

Perhaps not just at work. The year didn't begin well, with the bitter struggles carried over from 2016 and perhaps even from the years prior to that. End of 2015 was the period I was on the verge of falling into depression while 2016 was a year full of hardships and trials. 

They weren't entirely work related nevertheless, my condition had affected all aspects of my life. By the beginning of 2017, I was nonchalant and indifferent plus the pressures of CPA studies only increased the stress.

After passing the 3rd CPA subject in May 2017, I decided to take a break first as I was feeling really burnt out and that I was losing myself. 
By this time, feelings of sadness come and go frequently but most often times the sadness stayed. 
I thought it was my job. I have been very comfortable where I was and no longer felt motivated to do my best. It felt like the dead of my career was reached so I started looking for opportunities outside. 

However, when I was presented with another job in private sector, I declined. I realised that I shouldn't make decisions while I was emotionally confused. My current job was a lot better already and it was foolish of me to just throw it away. That was in June, just after my birthday.

This experience was like a wake up call. I made up my mind that no matter what my environment was, I could still choose to be happy but this change in outlook required actions. 

  • Firstly, I had to turn away from pessimistic conversations. I may not have had control of the negative chatter that went around me but I realised that I didn't have to add fuel to the fire. If I had nothing nice, truthful or helpful to say, then I just shut my mouth.

  • Secondly, I had to remind myself to be a little bit more compassionate. After the hurtful experiences, one after the other, I didn't realise that I was slowly turning into this cold-hearted and bitter monster who cares only for herself. Some people would tell me that helping others in the workplace is a sign of weakness and loss. After all, we were all competing for promotion so why should I disadvantage myself by helping others? And I believed that (which was just an excuse for my bitter disposition, of course). 

  • Third and most important is to go back to basics when things get complicated:
    "Keep doing what is just and right."
    For a long time I had become complacent which was not uncommon at that time. Most of us were unwilling to love our job and were probably motivated only because we secretly hope to get noticed and be promoted soon. How ironic! If I was not motivated enough in my current responsibilities, why should I expect to be better suitable for a higher role? That's self-entitlement at its best. 

So with a change of heart, I gradually persuaded myself to do my work with passion again.

By mid-August, I started to gain momentum at work and when the promotions came up, I was no longer as greedy and hungry for it. I placed my application nevertheless although I wasn't very hopeful. After all, I had slacked off for a long time. I focused my energy on learning from my cases and targeting my KPIs as quickly as I could, for I was also helping out the new-starter in our team.
Then beginning of September, after submitting my application, I started feeling sick. At first, I thought it was ulcer and I tried to self medicate. But my colleague convinced me to see the doctor because 5 days after, the stomach pains still lingered. 

One minute I was training her, the next she was pushing me out the door so I could see the doctor. She even asked the TL herself, to let me finish the day early. 
It makes me smile now to recall her kind and motherly concern for me.

Then, I found out I was 6 weeks pregnant - it was the middle of September.

It was one of my happiest moments but the morning sickness that came with the pregnancy also turned my life upside down - I was constantly away from work, I couldn't even finish a week without taking sick leaves because the excessive vomiting left me without nutrients and feeling weak. 

At one point, I was just crying in bed, hoping I could sleep and wake up only when it's time to give birth. I struggled at work but still managed to meet my KPIs. For the next 2 months, it was depressing.

I was hospitalised due to hyperemesis gravidarum

By this time, I have lost all hope in getting the promotion.

I was at home, in the middle of my 2-week Sick Leave break late in October when I received a call for an interview. I didn't have review notes with me but I didn't panic. I remind myself to just do your best, and rely on what I did and knew. After all, I have been doing my job for 3 years.

I kept the whole process a secret, with only a very few inevitable people knowing about it. I will be away for maternity leave soon, what's the chances they'll give me the position?

With everyone aware of my sick and pregnant condition, I decided I'll just slip quietly unnoticed. Because no one knew I was invited for an interview, I was also spared from the stressful questions and follow-ups from colleagues. The morning sickness was more than enough pressure on my plate.
By November, my health started to pick up. I was seldom vomiting now and less nauseous although my sense of smell and taste were still crazy and fussy. With the holidays just around the corner, I also felt happier and even helped in organising our Kris Kringle Team 1 ritual. 

With my health back Phillip (my Team Leader) decided to let me act in his place while he's away. It wasn't until the first week of January 2018 anyway so I accepted it with much gratitude. During the closed door meeting he also asked me about my application. I told him what I had been telling everyone who asked: 
"I wasn't called in for an interview but it's okay. My chances would have been bleak anyway with the pregnancy and all."
I hope he had forgiven me for lying hehehe. But as I have said, I had my reasons and although keeping it a secret from my own TL was stretching it a bit, it was best to spare him the burden of unconsciously slipping hehehe.

By December, I was feeling pretty well so we decided to book a holiday from the 6th (Wed) until weekend for the kids. 

The day before our holidays, 5th of December, was one I will never forget.

Coming back from lunch, my dear friend, who also applied for promotion shared news about her results. While I was away, the Manager has started calling in the applicants one by one to let them know whether they were successful or not. 

My friend got the eligibility list! This means that she didn't get the position NOW but if there will be open positions in the future, she (and the others on the list) may get it. I was truly happy for her and I kind of hoped to be on the list too. My heart was pounding from tension. I checked my phone to see if I missed any calls. Zero. Darn, the Manager's probably calling in the successful ones first.

Shortly after, the agony of waiting was over. I was called in to receive news about my application too. I walked quietly to her office, glad that most people were not at their desks. It was lunchtime and I saw that most of my friends went out. At least they won't see my reaction after this meeting.

Finally, I was sitting in the Manager's office.

I prepared myself for the worst, that I didn't get the position. Didn't I tell myself from the beginning? But you know how rejections always hurt. 

The Manager had her back turned to me so she couldn't see me cold and clammy (hehehe), and then she faced me with a smile and said "Congratulations! You got the position!" 

I was dumbfounded so I stared back. She had to repeat herself before I snapped out of my trance - TRUE STORY. All I could say after was "Really?" without choking as I felt my eyes welling up with tears.

The Manager was laughing as she shook my hands and I can hear her saying how I did well blah blah blah... the words just melted away. I thanked her profusely and to cover up my embarrassing show of emotions, I explained to her that I thought I won't get it because my pregnancy was bad timing.

She assured me that I deserved the promotion and that my condition had not been a hindrance at all. Walking out from her office, I was still feeling overwhelmed. Lucky, the people I know were still away hehe. In one of the empty meeting rooms, I locked myself up and continued to weep quietly. 

My heart was overflowing with gratitude as I continually thanked God in my mind for this unexpected blessing.

The results were still confidential at that time so I told only my husband. With blessing from the Manager, I also told Phillip about it. I felt that I had the responsibility to let him know as he was my Team Leader. 

He laughed and understood why I had to keep it a secret. He said he was actually quite puzzled when I told him earlier that I didn't make it to the interview. 

It turned out that before he even asked me, he already had an idea that my I got promoted because he had been called for feedback as my referee. Calling referees is the final stage in the recruitment process and is usually a sign of a successful application.

I left work that afternoon happy and looking forward more than ever for our family holiday. Indeed, this was something worth celebrating for!

The kids enjoying the view of Shoal Bay from the terrace.

Again, this story may not be as profoundly felt by the mere reader as much as it had made an impact on me. 

But the truth is, this marks a make-or-break point in my current job. In a few months time, I will be taking maternity leave. If I didn't get promoted, that means my prior years experience would be wasted (3 years!). 

I will be starting back to zero when I get back (more than a year or so), build my momentum first before turning in that application again. That could take years. 

But God spared me from the additional work. So now you'd understand why this was such an emotional experience? 😌 2017 was the bearer of all the good news in my life. And so I treasure this memory as a gift.

Trust me, I did not get promoted because I was great or more intelligent than the rest. I just did my best even when there was no one looking at me. I just did things with love. 

I hope my story could inspire others to keep doing what is just and right. If you're in a difficult position right now where you feel like you are getting nowhere, achieving nothing, unmotivated... 
"Just hold on. Step back a bit, calm down and then keep doing your best again."
When the time is right, even when you feel like you don't deserve it, you will reap your reward. And that's the most wonderful feeling in the whole world! 😃💗

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