To work or not to work, that is the question

Posted by barb on Sep 21, 2008 in Random Thoughts |

A couple of weeks ago, my government manager mentioned that she had been talking to our project manager about taking me on full-time through the next fiscal year. Prior to this, I only knew that my full-time employment was only guaranteed through the end of this calendar year. For any normal person in that situation, with no future job on the horizon, it would be good news that their employment could be continued for another 8-10 months.

I’m not normal.

Currently I work on three different tasks at work – one is a research task for 50% of my time, one is a web development/science support task for 30% of my time, and the last is an education and public outreach task for 20% of my time. I only like one of these tasks – the outreach task. The others are things to be tolerated (an loathed).

Sadly, the full-time position that my one manger is offering, is actually an extension of the web development/science support task. This is the longest-running of my tasks, which started over 5 years ago. For over 4 years, I have hated that job. A big part of the problem is that I often have *nothing to do* – I’m not talking about nothing meaningful or nothing interesting, but rather nothing at all. Another problem is that when I write new text for a web page, I can’t get anyone to approve the text. The result? First, I have a bunch of new web pages that I’ve worked hard to research and write, that just sit on my computer without going live. Second, our web pages get further and further out of date. And does my manager think that turning this into a full-time job is going to relieve these problems?

My outreach position can continue my funding through May (at the 20% level), so I asked about maybe doing the new position at the 80% level through May so that I could at least continue some part of a job I like (that’s not how I worded it with my manager, of course). She didn’t seem to like that idea at all – she’s convinced that they’ll need me full time.

As it happens, Andrew and I are in a position where we can survive on just his salary (pending a large amount of budget-trimming). So, do I take the full-time position just so I’m taking in cash, feeling like I’m contributing to the household? Do I take some time off?

If I were to turn down this position, I would still be able to work the 20% time on outreach. In addition, I would plan on working on my writing – I’ve been told that my fiction is publishable, but to do that I need to polish up some of my stories and research which markets I should submit them to. The house needs a top-to-bottom cleaning and some work (painting and such). I’d also like to work on getting CraftyPhD
up and running. Plus, it would be nice to have some time for my science blog. There’s no way to fit all of that into my life with a full-time job.

But, is this just selfish? Andrew supports my desire to turn down the job. But I’m worried about how much we need to trim the budget. Will he start to resent me for turning down full-time employment when I had the chance? Will I feel guilty over pursuing my interests instead of contributing to the household? I know that when I do find a job, Andrew and I may find our positions swapped, with him having trouble finding a position in whatever town we move to, but is that really a good reason to turn down a job now?

I have to give my decision to my manager tomorrow. I’m honestly not sure what will come out of my mouth at that time. Wish me luck.

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Sep 21, 2008 at 10:59 pm

As your resident non-worker, I say turn it down. I have found that I can live on far less than we thought, and my happiness/health is far more important than having the extra money. I also worried about “not contributing”, but the fact of the matter is, I do. I do the stuff that doesn’t pay, and Jeff does the stuff that does. You can always take the outreach thing for 20% time or (like I just did!!!) take a job at your local craft store.
Besides, if you hate staying at home, you can always go back to work….but I bet you’ll love it. Andrew is an awesome enough guy that I think all of your fears about being a “mooch” aren’t going to come to fruition.

Sep 21, 2008 at 11:19 pm

I agree with Sweetie. You’ve been working on stuff you despise for way too long. Work on some things that make you happy and be productive there. When the role reversal happens, it happens. That’s why marriage is a compromise. Be glad you have an awesome guy who supports what you want/don’t want to do. 🙂


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