Q.1 I JOINED THE SERVICE many years ago so I wouldn't have to worry about anything and could let my government take care of me. Now I have a family and make a decent salary (although not compared to civilians) and I'm nearing the time when I should start thinking about my retirement, which is early in the military. Now I'm worried about where the money is going to come from. Is it possible for a lowly serviceman to use professional money managers too? I don't think we're in the "heavy hitter" group that most of them want to deal with.
(ANS.) YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE a "heavy hitter" to employ a professional to manage your money. In fact, a recent survey from the First Command Financial Behaviors Index showed that 83 percent of middle-class military families (in pay grades with household incomes of at least $50,000) work with a financial planer and say they trust them. In fact, more than 57 percent of service members who worked with advisors at least three years feel confident in their ability to work comfortably, 47 percent who worked with an advisor less than three years, and 30 percent who have no advisor feel the same. It's often a worthwhile expense for military and non-military people to use these experts.
(Q.2) SOME DAYS I GET THE FEELING I'M WORKING FOR the mob and the Sopranos are about to burst into the office. There's a feeling that we really have to fear those guys in the front office who make the rules, and some of those rules are just nuts. Nothing is written down, everything's a secret, and no one talks about them even after they leave. In fact, I'm writing this on my girlfriend's computer with a new fake email name and address. I know they're not REALLY part of the mob, so I haven't quit because they really pay a lot of money and I've sold out for that. Should I?
(ANS) THAT DECISION IS UP TO YOU, but you have clearly described what Albert J. Bernstein, author of Emotional Vampires at Work: Dealing with Bosses and Coworkers Who Drain You Dry, names an "antisocial office culture." Other symptoms he includes are encouraging you to do something illegal, such as falsifying information to make a sale, or cooking the books. No one tells you to lie or cheat, but it's implied and YOU are the one who'll take the fall. Also, it's clear that if someone asks you to do something you do it without asking any questions even if you have some. No one can force you to pleasantly arrange to find another job, stay on good terms-- and get out of there now. But it's a plan.
(Q.3) I KEEP HEARING EVERYONE SHOULD have a network but as a woman middle manager, I don't see any around for me to join. I do go to industry meetings, conventions, etc. and hand out cards, but I don't have circles of helpful professionals I can go to for help. Any suggestions?
(ANS) START ONE OF YOUR OWN. Pamela Ryckman, author of Stiletto Network reports women in your position are starting to form salons, organizing dinners and meeting over drinks with the purpose of supporting and advancing women, including themselves. You don't need to be famous, she contends. Start uniting and steering each other toward promotions and opportunities. Draw women with diverse skills from a variety of industries. Once you bring them together, take walks, talk, share dinner, and things will happen. Also strike a balance between personal and professional networks. Mix fun with purpose and bring in guest speakers, or share the podiums yourselves to share ideas and tips. Like most things-good stuff doesn't just happen. You must create the right atmosphere.
(Q.4.) I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH Attention Deficit Disorder, or A.D.D, while in middle school and have struggled to overcome the roadblocks it causes all my life. Now I'm working in a profession I love and find it's even harder to stay on point. I have a schedule of unfinished work and procrastinate all the time. I can't work until the final pressure is on m. My workplace and home closet are messes with no organization. I work on projects until they're perfect-which means they never end. My boss is very sympathetic, but I want to do better.
(ANS.) YOU MAY BE SURPRISED to learn there are thousands of people just like you and Blythe Grossberg, author of Making A-D-D Work, contends you all can work with and around those "roadblocks." There are skills you can actually develop to stay organized, or bring in an assistant to help with that. Be sure you're in the right environment, and start to consider your strengths. On that plus side, you may be the one who comes up with the ideas no one else thinks of, and you probably can focus on things that interest you for hours without needing to look at a clock or stop for lunch. Also, you can marshal unbounded energy for projects when others are wearing down, and you can probably jump into something without planning and function very well. It would be wise to have a "sit down" with your supervisor and explain your A.D.D. diagnosis, showing both its pros and cons. Ask for support and patience and you should get it. If not, get a job where you will.