HOW TO LIKE YOUR JOB AGAIN – PART 1
In this two-part blog post, first I will give you a highly effective four step process to help you deal with a job that is sucking the life out of you, and then in part two I will give you an example of how someone used this process to create positive change in their lives.
Are you unhappy at work? Maybe you even hate your job, but have bills to pay, families to take care of, and no current, obvious alternatives. Then it’s likely you’re avoiding going to work in the first place.
Perhaps you’ve already burned your vacation and sick leave down to the bare minimum. But beware – absenteeism is the number one indicator of an employee who isn’t happy, and your supervisor probably knows something is up.
You need to do something different, and soon. So what are you going to do?
I believe that your work should suit your life and be personally fulfilling – not something you do just for a paycheck. With that in mind, here’s an exercise that just might make you love your job again, or at least help you feel satisfied for a few more months, until another opportunity comes along.
Step One: Wave A Magic Wand
Ask yourself “Self, if you could wave a magic wand today and be in a different job, what would it be? What skills would you leverage? What would your co-workers be like?”
This is important because you need to get a clear vision on this before you can move into a better job, so don’t skip this step. Oftentimes, when we’re mired in swirling emotions of dread, boredom, and resentment, we can’t get a sense of our true goals, our proper career path, so this step is indeed a challenge. Do it anyway.
What would be the perfect solution if you could wave a magic wand and make it happen tomorrow? Make a 5-point list that outlines the characteristics of your ideal position.
Write it down.
Step Two: Understand Your Current Situation And What Isn’t Fulfilling About It
Here we document the specific ways in which your job is failing you and taking you off a better path. Why EXACTLY do you dislike your work so very much?
You may find that your current work is a complete 180 from your ideal job. On the other hand, you might find that there are just 1-2 barriers standing in your way, such as a co-worker whose personality you don’t like, or a boss that is disrespectful to you, or a colleague that you believe to be incompetent. Maybe you simply don’t see the potential in your job or advancement opportunities.
Whatever the case may be, make a 5-point list that outlines precisely why you don’t want to go to work anymore.
Write it down.
Step Three: Tell Someone and Directly Ask for Feedback
Start talking to others about your predicament. Find someone you can trust and share what you wrote down in the first two steps. But be selective, don’t share it with the office gossip. A friend outside of work is best.
If you’re scared to tell others, list the reasons why in a journal. Or just on a piece of paper. Maybe even on the back of a napkin one morning at breakfast. Or, hell, if things are that bad, you can just get your napkin one afternoon at happy hour.Ask the bartender for a pen and get to work.
Why can’t you talk to anyone about how bad your work life is?
It’s likely that, in truth, you are the only person standing in your way. But it’s only at this point in the process that you will realize this. Now, muster the courage to bust through this obstacle. Tell a few friends. Maybe, after careful consideration, tell people at work. Dare I say – your supervisor?
This is important because you need to release what is swirling around in your brain, for the sake of your sanity and your life course. Get it out into the open.
Then – directly ask for help and feedback.
Directly ask for help and feedback from one person… and then another… and then another. Your challenge is to talk about steps 1 and 2 openly with three people and to NOT END your conversations with these people until you have one or two actionable ideas about what you can do to make life at work a bit more bearable.
Shall I repeat? DO NOT END these conversations until you have one or two actionable ideas about what you can do to make life at work a bit more bearable.
You’ll be surprised at how often this works.
Step Four: Put Your Current Situation Into Context
Now it’s time to identify how your current situation fits into your ‘magic wand’ solution. It is likely that you have not exhausted all development possibilities from your current job or exhausted all opportunities for growth there.
For example, maybe you can resolve to gain higher level negotiation skills while you are slaving away at the job you dislike. Maybe you can resolve to gain stronger communication skills, better ability to be a team player, the strength to inspire others and to create a positive work environment. Perhaps you can harness this seemingly dismal situation to become a leader, and to change things for the better with a consistently positive attitude that brings your other coworkers – the ones you actually like – back into your work space.
I encourage you to make it a competition. Who is going to win today? You? Or your job?
With this mindset you can step up to the plate each day. Take as much from your job as it takes from you. Think of it like a worthy opponent if you must. But tackle your work-life contempt head-on each day until you start getting rewarded with the skills you need and deserve. When you start looking for ways to align your current job with your true career goals, shifts may take place at work that make your job much more tolerable. Gasp?! Maybe even fun again.
Keep in mind that when you do get ready to start looking for a future position change, you will likely get an interview question that goes something like this – “Tell me about a time where you have been in a difficult situation and what did you do about it?”
Do you want to say – “I hated my job and so I quit”?
No. That will not reflect well on you.
Instead, you will shine when you can honestly answer – “I hated my job and I worked diligently to make it better and to bring it into alignment with my ideal job. I made strides at XYZ junctures. I took some time to reflect on how that position fit into my larger life story, and I leveraged my position for all that it could give in terms of professional development and skills. Now after seeing what I can handle, I am ready to move on.”
Indeed, that is a MUCH better story.
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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.