Errors of Omission

When I screw up, I am much more likely to not do something that I should do, rather than to do something that would have been better to have been left undone. Just this week, I forgot to dial up a teleconference on a new ethics policy, and to take my car to the shop to have the emissions system reamed out. Often errors of omission can be corrected simply by doing what should have been done at a later time. The teleconference will be available online, and I made a new appointment with the car shop, after an appropriate period of apology and abject groveling.

When I get really, really busy, I forget things. Simple things like checking my calendar on my Palm Pilot every morning to see what is on the schedule that day.

Sometimes, though, an error of omission means a lost opportunity. That just happened to me.

I've known for months that a very high level accounting position would be opening up in county government. I'm one of the most qualified people in the county for the position. However, I've been ambivalent about the job possibility.

Pros:

* More money.
* Higher level scope of responsibility.
* Same retirement system.

Cons:

* Less flexible schedule. Less flexibility in general.
* Lots more politics.
* Even more stress than the job I have.
* Much less paid time off, and no vacation for the first year.
* Narrower scope of responsibility.

Despite the weight of the cons, I have checked the online job listings regularly for months to see if the opening had been posted.

Then, my boss and I went to the County budget meeting. The current incumbent in the position (who is retiring) was at the table, and another person was by her side. More than once I heard "next year, when you are at these meetings, you will know _________". Ah ha, I thought. The position is being filled in-house, and the successor is being groomed. And I stopped looking at the job postings.

Tuesday night, Robert and I went to the annual Democratic dinner. The incumbent was there, and said to me, "Anita, I was surprised that you didn't apply for my job."

I missed the posting. Darn.

I was upset, and it took a while to calm down. Robert told me he didn't understand why I was upset - as far as he could see, I had already decided that I didn't want the job. The loss of vacation time has made me feel ill when I've thought about it. I'm a person with MS, I have parents in their 80's, I have a sailboat... and the job is so grueling, how can anyone take it on with no real time to relax and regroup for an entire year? The lure of more money is so strong, though. Especially since a higher salary means a higher pension some day.

It feels like a failure that I didn't even notice the ad, that I completely missed something I've thought about so much.

I am recovering. I am thinking about my values. I believe in a life that is in balance. I believe in the concept of "enough". I believe in the work that my agency does. I believe that I can help it weather the financial storms on the horizon. And there was no guarantee that I would have been offered the job in the end.

I need to bloom where I am planted.

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