Who Moved My Cheese?

June 2, 2020

Okay, so, I just finished reading this book, Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson, M.D., and it’s about dealing with change, coping in life and at work. It is just what I needed right now, and maybe some of you can benefit from it, as well. This is not an affiliate post. There is no link. I am just recommending this book because I am impressed with it.

The basic premise is there is a maze and there is cheese in this maze and every day two mice and two littlepeople  (that’s how it’s spelled in the book) who look like human beings go out looking for cheese. One day they find a huge pile of it and enjoy it. Then, one day, it’s gone. The book is about how the mice and the littlepeople deal with this situation, this…Change. And, what we can learn from them.

And, like I said, I am highly impressed. It’s a short book, 93 pages, and like a lot of short books, it is packed with wisdom, insight, good advice, and humorous observations. I was especially surprised by how much it said about my current situation.

Before COVID-19, I was holding a year-old bachelor’s degree in English and holding onto the same job I had before I got the degree. As the book says, change is difficult for some people because they are trapped by comfort and fear. And, that is me, I have come to realize. I already knew I was comfortable in my job, somehow, even though raises are very small and only happen occasionally, every three or four years, at best. But, the benefits are great, there is (or was) enough overtime, lots of vacation, holiday, and sick time (staff and faculty get Christmas Eve to January 1off, with pay), I have very little supervision, and my boss likes and respects me. I was comfortable with my perks and I was looking for a job that came with some or a lot of them.

But I didn’t realize I was afraid to leave my job. I had no reason to be. The pay is low and hasn’t kept pace with the cost of living. It isn’t a job that befits my new degree or my aspirations. My department, facilities, doesn’t have much respect around the campus, and when it get’s stressful, it takes me hours to unwind and cool off at home. I was looking for a desk job, or better yet a work-from-home job. I didn’t think I was afraid of change, as I was combing online job ads, filling out countless resumes, and creating my LinkedIn account.

But I was afraid to even interview for a job in insurance, making sales over the phone. And, I didn’t want another warehouse job across the river, even though it paid over two dollars an hour more. I didn’t apply for a couple of desk jobs I was qualified for even though they paid almost as much as mine, and I eventually decided against a good desk job with a real estate company in midtown, even though I loved their offices, because of the extensive and exhaustive list of responsibilities in the job listing. I was afraid I would fail at it; it was so far removed from the work I was doing, what was expected of me, and most importantly, how quickly I had to do it. Busy work environments worry me.  I hustle only when I have to, and I only have to every two ore three weeks or so.  Short deadlines, detail-oriented work, on time, right now, with a hands-on boss looking over my shoulder, and my work. Just imagining it had me clicking the next link as quickly as I could.

And now? After COVID-19 has struck the planet and changed everything? I am thankful that I still have my old job. I am still employed, full time, with no decrease in pay. I have been happy, more than once, that I didn’t find a new job before the pandemic. I might have been laid off or had to take a pay cut. Anything could have happened. I am happy I still have a job and I am very nervous about the stability of the emerging job market. Can I find a job? Are new jobs stable? Is the economy stable? Will there be another shutdown? Wil there be a recession?

So, this book came (in a box of books discarded by a retiring professor) at a great time for me. The cheese has moved. It’s time for me to accept it and move, too.

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