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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Buyer

#98: The Program of Life

The Program of Life

My job title is “Senior Financial Analyst,” but I [excel] by acting as a hybrid between technical program manager and financial analyst/manager. I’m ultimately responsible for holding teams accountable to the numbers, but it’s more effective to enforce accountability when you actually understand the technical details that contribute to the numbers. I’m not sure what my job would look like without that understanding, although it’s supposedly not required of me. I’ve unintentionally carved out a role for myself that combines financial data with technical knowledge and leverage business partner relationships to drive material profitability improvement. That sounds like corporate buzzwords, but that’s legitimately the part of my job that I’m in love with most, and the first time I succinctly described it. As the girl who enjoyed math but struggled like no other to escape with Bs, I’m forever in awe of myself for this. I’m left wondering if I was always capable, but didn’t succeed because I didn’t believe in myself, but that’s another topic. Basically, I’m kicking ass at work (for now). I’m allowed to say that without sounding conceited, since I actually suck at maintaining any kind of balance between work and personal life. It’s okay to laugh. Yet again, I became so consumed by work that it didn’t occur to me to check my PTO bank until several team members suggested that I take time off before we’re so busy that I can’t. Apparently, I’m 10 hours short of the accrual cap. I’m struggling to reconcile how I got here, given the 3-month existential career goal crisis that was recently resolved in January. I guess that was 3-4 months ago. Please let the record show that I do make plans with friends every weekend, go to the gym, and pick up a book or a paint brush every once in a while. I may be a workaholic, but I’m human, and have strengthened incredible friendships during this time. Note to self: Do not lose focus on maintaining balance.


Because of what I’ve proved I can do at work, I’m hard-pressed for an excuse not to spend 30 minutes figuring out how to plan the girls’ trip to Mexico ;) and is there an excuse for why I’m barely completing taxes on time, or struggling to respond to friends’ texts when I don’t immediately know how to respond. I also meant to move apartments this year to be closer to friends, and create separation from the office. I spent so much energy on work, that my lease expiration snuck up on me six days before, when the leasing manager caught me as I was literally, running to my performance review. I’m letting this serve as the wake-up call that I need to execute on decisions after I make them, or another default decision will be made for me. I also knew there was a very real chance this would happen. If I was 100% sure about a move, I would’ve looked into it sooner.  Needless to say, I re-signed the lease. I even hung up the painting that’s been sitting on my ping pong table for months! It’s time for my program management skills be put to use on an ‘underserved’ program with a huge opportunity: The Program of Michelle’s Life. As ridiculous as it objectively is, I’m serious. and I have no idea how to start, either. 


It’s worth acknowledging that this is the time that I have the luxury to prioritize my career now, and will re-evaluate one I’ve established myself and the family I hope to have. There’s also such a thing as taking self-improvement and optimization so far that it becomes counterproductive. Outside of work, this is my chance to be an irresponsible twenty-something, and I intend to do just that. 


Since I initially wrote this post (AKA worked through my thoughts), it occurred to me that my over-abundance of PTO is a representation of the larger issue that since stepping on the gas at work again, I failed to take care of myself the way I need to, if I want the chance at achieving my long-term goals. I can make jokes all day, but this is not glamorous, or something that I can allow myself to be proud of, in whatever twisted way. It’s an indication of a serious deficit, but I’m grateful to have learned this lesson the hard way now, before it’s too late.


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