The Outlook invite to my annual review hit my inbox and with it the cortisol hit my system. As you know, my small goal for this cycle was to prepare for my review, which I understood to be in April. But last week, the day before my birthday I found out that I have 8 days until it’s time to be judged by my bosses. As an anxious person, that means I have 8 days with little peace of mind. I have 8 days to worry about underachieving, 8 days to feel badly about not doing more research about what I want to convey at the meeting, 8 days to worry about being nervous at the meeting itself. I also have 8 days, despite all the physical and mental discomfort, to get into action, to talk to people, to prepare, and to be productive.
So I marched on. I prepared, then I worried, then I prepared, then I worried. I reached out for support. I spoke to my buddies. I met up with Naomi and Hadar. I reviewed my accomplishments. I considered requesting a salary increase. I thought about what is possible for my upcoming year. It felt heavy.
Last night I got a text from my girlfriend that said, “I just want to tell you, this is the year of the Josh – I feel it (and I know these things). Great things are going to happen for you – some things will happen because you created them and some things will just happen. Getting promoted will happen because you created it – u worked hard for it and they see your value, personally and professionally and they want to reward you for that. Trust that things are good”.
After reading this, i was overcome by a warm wave and I collapsed to the floor and I cried. This does not happen to me. I cried and then my crying turned into laughter and then I cried and I laughed and it felt good. I felt relief. I felt some peace. I felt that all of this stress is FUNNY, that life isn’t so serious so all of this stress is just so silly.
I knew that I wanted to ask for a raise. Sure, I want to make more money and feel valued for the hard work that I put in, but I knew that the main reason wasn’t the money. I wanted to do the courageous thing. I wanted to experience the freedom that comes with doing the hard, respectable, courageous thing.
I woke up this morning and the peace from last night had dissipated, it was back to the worry. But each time I felt worry, I told myself to view the review as a celebration. I thought a bit about the worst possible scenarios and what they would feel like. The biggest of all was that I would nervously and pathetically request a raise, and my bosses would laugh at me, pity me and say no and I would feel small, crushed and want to die. I sat with that a bit and figured that it was a low probability event, and still one that I could survive. So I went back to shifting to the review being a celebration. I wasn’t sure if I had the courage to ask for the raise. But my phone kept buzzing and all of you were talking about freedom, courage and new beginnings. I decided to announce to you all that I was going through with it in order to make it happen.
I could barely get anything done this morning because my mind was completely preoccupied. 12:30 rolled around and it was time for the celebration. As usual, I was really nervous and my mouth was dry and my throat was tight, but the review itself went pretty well. They are pleased with my work and feel that I continuously exceed expectations. I tried to be present as much as possible, knowing that my prize was on the impending request. Time was winding down and they said that I am getting the typical annual raise. I said thank you and then I went into my pitch. I basically said that I believe that I have demonstrated that I bring a certain energy, commitment and dedication to my role. I know that I do good work and I will continue to do good work. I have also shown loyalty to the group and to the firm and I was hoping that this could be reflected in my base salary. They listened and said that they could not do that at this time, but perhaps down the road if I blah blah blah.
It’s not really blah blah blah – I listened to what they had to say and am grateful that I work for a successful company that sees possibilities for me down the road if I continue to prove myself.
But for me, I won. I chose to experience myself in a new way. I was willing to sacrifice shame, embarrassment, discomfort and pain for the experience of freedom. It felt good. It felt shifty. It felt courageous and I want more, I want a lot more…