Moving The Goal Post

I’d like to think that everyone sets goals and does their best to achieve them. Sometimes along the way the goal might change or the route to get there will alter slightly. You know what? That’s okay.

In the end you get where you’re going. Savoring the accomplishments is tough to remember to do. Reflection is also required once in a while. We may forget that we had a goal and it can come and go- and we don’t notice how hard we worked towards it.

Goals can be big or small. They can be health related or career oriented. You can have more than one goal at a time, and achieve more than one at a time as well.

Sometimes we think we want a goal but it’s not the right goal so we abandon it. That’s fine as well. For years I wanted to write a novel, instead I have been blogging about my life and thoughts every day since January 2016. They say “write what you know.” I know about me.

So check on your goals. Readjust as needed. Set some new goals. Achieve and fail, but learn along the way. Be the best you that you can be.

GOAL!

Linked

The other day it was suggested to me to join LinkedIn. I have been aware of the site and what it offers, but never saw the need for joining it. I’m not actively looking for new work, but it’s neat to see so many current and previous coworkers and their profiles stating skill sets and abilities. I had no idea that many of them are supremely talented and successful in many aspects. Go team!

The platform is similar to Facebook (obviously). As much as I was wanting to limit my Social Media usage, I’ve been enjoying setting up my new LinkedIn profile. I guess you can find me here: Josef Havelka LinkedIn. I’ve currently being adding my careers and jobs, and searching similar jobs and even dream jobs. But I have been hemming and hawing about mentioning my blog in my profile.

This blog is a great place for me to share, even though it’s not devoted to one topic. Besides being about ME. So do I add my blog or not? It’s kind of like a diary of being a father, husband, and geek who enjoys food and travel as well as nostalgia.

Help me interweb friends! What do I do?

Job!

A couple of days ago I mentioned my wife applied for a job: She Works Hard. She found out this afternoon that she got it!

She now works at Shopify starting as soon as we return from our trip to Tokyo. Tonight we are going out to celebrate. That’s my quick update. Gotta go and share the joy with my wife.

10 Years of Railroading

I can’t believe I’ve been at the same job for ten years now. Somehow it morphed into a career. I kind of always knew it would, but it still hits me hard.

Ten years of service and my work gave me a nice watch with a ten year pin to commemorate my hard work. I’ll be here for at least another 15 years most likely.  The company has been really good to me and my family.  Offering stability and steady work over the years.


Before I started at CN, I made a railroad in our garden.  Unfortunately it has gone into disarray over the years. At the start of every summer, my son cleans the models and sets them up. I have a feeling one or more of my children will end up working here at some point in their lives. 

Nearly every year we attend CN Family Days. My children have enjoyed all the train rides and prize draws. They also enjoy seeing where I work. CN has been great in helping with my children’s Speed Skating as well.  Offering a grant for the volunteer time that my wife, daughter and I have put in.  This greatly helps out our Skating club.

It always strikes me as odd that I work at a railroad.  When I was a child, I was terrified of trains.  It continued on into my teen years. Getting a job working on trains took a lot of courage for me.  Within a year I had moved into the office to get away from working in the yard (much to my wife’s happiness). I hope to continue my growth and enjoy the challenges that each day brings me. 


Thank you CN for the decade of friendships and job satisfaction.

Work Friends

My work friends are pretty cool.  We all have a job to do and we each play a different role to achieve a common goal. We are in the business of servicing customers and moving trains. Everyone knows that, and we all work hard at it.

Here’s my brief history: 

I started at the job being a conductor/switchman.  I loved it.  Even during the rainy season, night shifts, scorching hot summer days and frigid cold winter months. The fact that I could work outside was a great change from my previous jobs. I grew and learned and showed respect to all of my coworkers.  Within three months of hiring on, I was a qualified switchman.  


Three months after that, I applied to take on another role. A role that I shouldn’t have been able to take on since the requirements from the company were that I must have two years experience switching on the ground. But since I was a go-getter and fairly quick at learning, I passed the testing and interview process and started my training as “Traffic Coordinator” aka Yardmaster. I barely knew the yard layout, but with my confidence and no fear ability to ask for help when needed, I became one of the best and most respected Yardmasters in the terminal. 

I had been a Yardmaster and switchman for the majority of my career in the railroad.  As I mentioned back in December: Changing It Up, I took on yet another role at my work. I went from a Union position to a management role as an “Assistant Trainmaster”. Now instead of directing crews as a Yardmaster- I now needed to look at a grander picture by focusing on train building, inbound/outbound workload, and the trains much further out from just our terminal. Because I never changed my personality and had years of experience in the railroad, the change was seemless.  The switchmen, engineers and Yardmasters appreciated the fact that I was knowledgeable. 

Much like when I started as a conductor, I wasn’t satisfied with just being an Assistant Trainmaster. Over the past few months, I pushed my learning and expanded my abilities.  I found out what I needed to learn to get to the next level and pursued it.  I went out and accomplished it by asking my coworkers questions, putting myself out there and taking on the challenge.  

A little gift from my children.


With the help of Trainmasters, Assistant Superintendents and people in other departments, I learned as much as I could.  My goal was accomplished in seven months.  Again, this is a goal that would take most around two years to achieve. I am now a Trainmaster, not an Assistant Trainmaster any more.

No one will look at my career path and just hand me a promotion. I knew I could accomplish my goal, and so the pressure was on.  No pressure from the upper management, it was a pressure I put on myself.  By asking questions and demanding more of myself, I hit my goal. I appreciate everything that everyone has done for me.

A big thank you to everybody who helped me along the way.  I appreciate it all.

Chess

I love playing chess.  I think of myself as pretty good at it.  During grade 8 and 9 I was in the Chess Club at school.  Because that’s where all the cool kids hung out.  Or rather the ones who had no other friends.  Even in my yearbook for grade nine- they misspelled my name in the photo.  Hashtag loser.

Back in 1991 grade nine- sweaters weren’t cool. Now, my daughter thinks it looks great.


My love for chess has gotten me further in life than most people would have guessed.  It helped me understand how to run a railroad.  Putting the trains and crews in the best positions to successfully move traffic.  I’ve often explained my job as a large chess game.  In fact, I also look at my life as a game of chess.  Especially my career thus far.

I started as a pawn.  Moving forward one or two steps at a time.  Occasionally doing a side step to take on a new challenger.  I finally made it to the other side of the board and was able to swap my pawn for another piece.  While most would choose a queen as their dominant piece, I chose otherwise. 

A simple game of chess.


My career hasn’t been a straight line- like the path of the rook or bishop.  I find that I move more like a knight.  Either going two steps forward and one step to the side or going one step sideways and two steps forward.  Sometimes jumping over an obstacle or enemy.  It’s a crooked way of working towards my goal, but achievable nonetheless.

In grade nine, my math teacher said that some of the greatest leaders in history played chess.  It’s a game of wits and looking ahead a few moves.  

Life is like a game of chess.  Take your time and think out your future moves because it may affect your next five moves.  My goals are attainable and I don’t need to show my hand.  I’m not going to wipe out everyone in my way, but I may have to take on a few opponents as I go.

Perhaps one day it will be checkmate.  Or maybe I’ll give up and take on a new opponent.  Who knows.  Until then, don’t hate the player- hate the game.

Changing It Up

Today I start a new journey.  One that I feel better suits me and my skill sets.  My current employer offered me an opportunity to change my work path into more of a career path.  After much deliberation and discussion with family and friends, I have taken a leap of faith into a more challenging role.

I’m not getting any younger.  I have children growing up and I want to deliver the best that life has to offer to them.  Be it a good education, travel, or just the necessities of life.  For the first time in what feels like years, we decided to celebrate my new journey.


My wife took me (and the family) out for dinner at Milestones.  Very fitting considering I’m reaching a new milestone in my life.  I haven’t been to this restaurant for a meal since we moved from our last home over a decade ago.  The food was tasty and the service was fantastic.  It was a nice treat for the family.  

Since I went rogue from my previous position and joined management, my expenses have changed and some money opened up.  Time for me to finally get a new vehicle.


I bought a new 2016 Nissan Rogue SL…  It looks like an angry Storm Trooper.  Tomorrow afternoon, it will be gracing our driveway.  Finally, a little bit of luxury for my drive to and from work.

As I further my journey over the next year from the title of Yardmaster to Trainmaster, I hope to still remain friends with those who matter most.  I understand that it’s not easy being friends with the boss or management.  But I know that in my journey through life, many people will grace me with their presence.  Many will stay connected with me.  Many more will just be passing through.  

With those thoughts in my mind, I have chosen to do what’s best for me and my family.  No one else could make the decision for me.  I believe it is the right pathway towards the betterment of my family.

Corporate promotion…

Last week, I was inspired to write today’s post by two talented bloggers that I follow:

First there is a friend of mine for many years who writes themattharding.  He shared an older post of his titled “The Missing Piece of the Puzzle.”

The other is Looking for the Good.  She discovered my blog when I started out a few months back.  I have since enjoyed her positive outlook on life and often look to her blog as a compliment to the style I am trying to portray in my own writings.  Last week she wrote “Happiness Is a Risk.”

Here’s my story about my journey in the work force post-secondary school:

Dude advice.


About twenty years ago, I thought that I needed to prove my worth in society by climbing a corporate ladder.  I had very little in the way of post secondary education and was holding down dead end minimum wage jobs.  I worked hard to prove my value to the companies I was employed at.  But pride in my work only made me a good employee.  The spring of 1999, I applied for a job at a multiplex theater that was about to open.  I made the “maybe pile” and not the 110 pile (110 was the No pile, just throw a slash between the one’s to understand). I was a second round pick, but worked my butt off to prove my worth.  I became a projectionist fairly quickly (after the union dispute was resolved).  I loved working at the movie theater and wanted to become a manager.  It appeared that it wasn’t going to happen after nearly five years working there.  A couple years later, I got a second part-time job.  This time at The Home Depot in the seasonal department for the summer.  In the fall of that year, my hours got cut back at HD & I was moved from the seasonal department to the windows and doors.  Because my hours were cut, I needed to find yet another job.

Perfect timing that a new Chuck E Cheese’s was opening near our home and I got a job doing early mornings Monday to Friday repairing the arcade games.  I was now working three part time jobs, putting in about 70-80 hours/week.  I saved all the money I could and my wife and I put a down payment on our first house.  By spring I decided to quit working at the movie theater.  I left there being the highest paid part-time employee.  I knew they would continue to give me piddly little raises to try and keep me, but there was no advancement opportunities in the near future, so I had to leave.  I still had two other jobs.  Not only was Home Depot a great employer that was closer to my new home, but I was learning how to “adult” and home renovations were becoming my new hobby.

Within a few months of hiring on at Chuck E. Cheese’s, an opportunity came to become a manager at that location, so I took it.  I had to quit the Home Depot, but I was finally getting a salary and benefits.  $28,500/yr & no bonuses.  I was putting in 50hr work weeks still, but I had two little girls at home under the age of two and they loved my job.

I stayed as a manager for nearly five years there.  But again, no promotional opportunities, and the pay wasn’t meeting my needs as we just had our third child and we needed a bigger house.  I was chasing a goal I thought I needed which I knew couldn’t be achieved in a short time.  I began passing my résumé around and was mastering the “Art of the Job Interview”.  To me it was a becoming a game- say what they wanted to hear and they almost always offered me the job.  But it all came down to pay and promotion advancements.  I turned down almost every job.  It felt good to be able to do that, but it wasn’t getting me where I wanted to be.

Summer of 2007, the other assistant manager at CEC got himself a job at a railroad.  Because we had become such great friends- he notified me of a job fair that was coming up.  I took the chance and went in, passing the exams and the interview with ease.  I got a call back within a couple of weeks asking if I could start ASAP in the training, otherwise I’d have to wait a few months for the next round of training.  I asked what the pay was.  To start in training, my pay was 2.5x the salary I was currently making.  After training, the money got even better.

I was now a laborer.  I did the job expected of me and I went home.  But of course, in my mindset of how my parents lived, I thought that I needed to still chase management opportunities.  So, a couple of years after being hired at the railroad, I applied for a management position.  However, during the interview I realized that I didn’t want it.  More hours, more stress, be more of an a-hole to the people I had become friends with; all for a bit more money.  I realized at that point I wasn’t wanting to work extra hours and that my family and friends had become my priority. The job I am doing pays me well enough and I had more time to be with my family than I ever expected.

Balance

As life has goes on, opportunity comes in many forms.  It may take a new direction or a change of pace to make you realize the path you need to be on.

Life is what you make it.  I’m trying to make mine fun.