Perhaps it’s just my Twitter stream but I’ve noticed an awful lot of stories recently that advise the reader to look for the silver lining in the job they dread, a “tantalizing new challenge” for example, as a way to hang in there. When I see these articles, my inner optimist starts to battle with my inner life coach and the result isn’t always pretty. Who wins this round? Read on!
When I work with coaching clients who are challenged by their job (i.e. they dread going to work so much that they yearn for major surgery in order to have a “legitimate” reason to not be at their job) we always look first for the heart of the problem: the true reason. Usually there is one, although it may be tangled with emotions (obligation, anger), obscured by what “everybody” thinks, practical thinking (paycheck) or even basic logistics (“but my free parking at work allows me to _______”). We start with discovering the heart first because that is the quickest and most effective way to finding a solution that will ring true to your Authentic Self and serve you long-term.
The number one reason that I’ve found that people leave their job (and incidentally why I’ve left all but one of my past jobs) is a lack of meaningful work. Call it “unengaged” if you’d like but it comes down to the same thing: feeling unstimulated or bored by the work that you do. Falling underneath this header (a lack of meaningful work) are usually accompanying feelings of under-appreciation, not being valued/respected and being micro-managed. It stands to reason, right? If you felt like you were doing meaningful work, then you likely are seen as valuable, feel respected, appreciated and you’re likely not being micro-managed.
The assumption is looking on the bright side is always a good thing. Here’s the reality: if you keep looking for a silver lining at work, it may become a habit. And not a “I kick butt in hot yoga 3x a week!” kind of habit. The bad kind. A bad habit of not listening to your Authentic Self but instead listening to whoever plays the Devil’s Advocate game with you, your boss’ needs, the company’s bottom line, your parents, “everybody”…anybody except yourself. That kind of bad habit will not only sabotage you professionally e.g. you’ll never do your best work if you hate your work but also personally: you will never be happy if you do not learn to listen to your Authentic self.
Feeling as if you are doing meaningful work is ESSENTIAL. You spend more hours of your average day at work than you do sleeping! Add that up over the course of your lifetime and then consider the importance of meaningful work where you spend the bulk of your days 9-5. If your work doesn’t feeling meaningful, your mental health can suffer and according to some studies, poor physical health can result. In all likelihood I don’t know you personally, dear reader, but I think you deserve better than that.
So, here’s the awful (or maybe not!) truth: if the heart of your work problem is that it doesn’t feel meaningful, there is no cool new challenge, better pay, better hours, greater flexibility etc. that will make a difference. It’s simply a Band-Aid on an oozing wound that may not be life-threatening but it’s sure as heck preventing you from running the marathon you’re destined to. Truth. A cool new thing is just another bright shiny object that distracts you from the true issue at hand. Your work doesn’t work for you anymore. And here’s something else: that’s okay. And you’re okay too.
But let’s get back to basics. For many of us, though, discovering the heart of our dissatisfaction with our job isn’t crystal clear. And that’s where I come in. In Bang It Out! coaching, we identify what your goal is (i.e. “do I quit my job?”) and explore in a tight, action-oriented timeframe (read: homework involved). It’s not always easy work but it isn’t brain surgery either, just thought-provoking, challenging and uniquely you. Just like your job, right?? Ahem.
Ready to quit your job and start your own business?? Head on over to Kish and Co’s blog for this awesome look at what’s ahead when you make THAT decision.
And for more on how America employees view the workplace, check out this new Gallup poll which offers some really interesting insights.
Thrilled? Encouraged? Confused? Leave me a comment below. All comments are confidential until approved.