Is your job sucking the life out of you? In Part 1 of this blog post we present a 4-step method to help you deal with this reality. Click HERE to read Part 1.
In Part 2 we take a look at Terrance’s story, to see this method in action.
Terrance worked in retail. He greeted customers, helped them to shop, and ran checkout in a popular (and expensive) mall clothing store. Terrence was excited to get this job at first. He had moved to the area to be near family, and needed something quickly.
Over time, Terrence grew to dread going in to work in the morning. The work was boring, his coworkers were annoying, and, in short, eventually he hated it. He wanted to quit. And, indeed, he could have. He had experience and some connections to land another job.
The disadvantage was that Terrance had quit the last 2 jobs he had held in the past 5 years. He recognized that job hopping looked poor on his resume and in the long run, would only hurt him. So he felt trapped. This is when I met Terrance, and I encouraged him to take the 4 steps I outlined in my previous blog post.
First = I told him to imagine his ‘magic wand’ solution. He had to write down a 5-point list that outlined the characteristics of his ideal position.
This is what he wrote down:
- I want to have work that is interesting and fun
- I want to like my coworkers
- I want to make a lot of money
- I want to be a manager
- I want a better schedule
Second = I told him to better understand his current situation – and what wasn’t fulfilling about it – to make a 5-point list that outlined precisely why he didn’t want to go to work anymore.
This is what he wrote down:
- I’m not a morning person and I have to get up too early. I hate it.
- Alyssa drives me crazy. She talks non-stop and is an idiot. I can’t stand being around her.
- My boss is a total jerk. He is either yelling at us or not there at all. We do all his work.
- All I am allowed to do is sales. I’m bored. And no one is buying anything these days.
- It’s not worth it for the money. My friend says he can get me a job in cellular sales making more.
Terrence’s lists were almost a perfect 180 from each other. You can understand why he felt miserable and desperate for a change.
Third = I told him to talk to three people about his issues, and to NOT END his conversations with them until he had one or two actionable ideas about what to do.
Terrence was not fearful to share his complaints – in fact he had told just about everyone he knew that would listen. So our challenge was for him to tell three people – again – but this time to pick people who could actually provide good advice and for him to ask for constructive help.
He picked three people he respected because they had been in their jobs for a long time.
His mom was first. She worked as a nurse at the same hospital for the last 20 years. His girlfriend’s cousin was second. He worked in the local middle school for the last 6 years. His friend from the neighboring store at the mall. He was the manager and had worked in that company for the last 8 years.
We agreed that these people might have the insight he needed.
Terrance told them about the lists he had made with me and asked for their ideas on what he could do to make work more tolerable. They had some tricks that had helped them in the past. They provided insight on how to rethink these situations in a way that made them more bearable. And the manager even provided an online development resource that would help Terrance start building his skills and resume outside of work.
I didn’t hear from Terrance for a few months after that. As I said last week and can say again – you’ll be surprised how often, and how well, this actually works!
But Terrence eventually re-appeared in my office after his new-found motivation and patience wore off. He still had the same ideal job outlined and the same complaints.
I took him through the fourth step by asking, “Who is going to win today? You? Or your job?”
He had an answer – his job. It already had won. And he was done.
We talked a bit further and I was able to inspire him to step up and beat it back. I encouraged him to think of his work like a worthy opponent, and to tackle his work-life contempt head-on each day as he went into work. Terrance admitted that if he took this job vs. me approach – and a much more competitive attitude – he could probably find a way to make work more fun.
We went through his list of ideals and I provided an official challenge to change his mindset. I told him that he “wins” if he can 1) MAKE his work interesting and fun, 2) LIKE his coworkers, 3) GET a better schedule, 4) GAIN more sales momentum, and 5) TALK to his boss about promotion.
Week 1 he tackled challenge 1 – thinking of his job as his opponent in the boxing ring. He was going to make this fun and interesting if it killed him. And he did. He was shocked. And he laughed more that week than he had in a while.
Week 2 he tackled challenge 2 – thinking the idea hilarious the he could come around to actually like these people. It was certainly a longshot. But he got curious – can they really be this idiotic? He asked them questions. He listened to them talk about their backgrounds. He took the time to teach Alyssa how to do some things. He even started to think that maybe he could mentor her and teach her what he knew about sales. Yep… by the end of week two he had done it again.
Week 3 he told his boss that he thought he could sell better with a different schedule and asked for different times. He got lucky here. A spot was available for this shift.
By week 4 his sales had already started to climb. He didn’t approach his boss in week 5 about a promotion… he wanted until week 8. But in 8 weeks Terrance went from a conversation about quitting to a conversation about promotion!
How do you think his interview went?
Indeed, he had a very impressive story to tell.
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Dr. Ganem is founder and director of Lion Leadership, a consulting organization and that helps private and non-profit companies with leadership and managerial development, strategic planning, and organizational effectiveness. She is primary writer for the ROAR blog at www.ImTheLion.com where readers gain perspective on themselves, their organizations, and how to reach their potential at work.