Call me King Midas ‘cause everything I touched was turning into gold!
I was having my best week of the month (maybe the whole year) at the small publishing house I used to work at in Chicago.
In the span of 5 short days, I received huge praise from our biggest client for the work I did on their newsletter, was offered a promotion to transfer to the marketing department, and received a job offer from our biggest rival publisher.
But would you believe that 2 months before this particular week, I had thought this was the worst job in the world?
It’s true! It was so bad that I was getting sick every morning on my way to the office and having panic attacks every few days.
So what changed? How did the job I hate become the one I love?
Most of my clients have some kind of issue with their jobs, and a few even swear to me that their jobs are slowly killing them.
I can believe it!
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can survive—and even thrive!—when you hate your job. I won’t say it’s an easy fix, but most people are surprised by how much power they actually wield at their 9-to-5 jobs.
Here’s how you can survive when you hate your job.
You Gotta Get Your Shift Together
At the risk of sounding like a new-age, hippie-dippie coach, most of your frustration with your job is coming from within you.
You’re probably thinking, “Hold up, Sage! It’s not me. It’s my boss who’s secretly the devil. Or it’s my coworker who undermines me. Or it’s the work that makes me question my life’s purpose or even puts me in unethical situations.”
Yikes! All those things would make any job a nightmare. But I’m telling the truth when I say the real nightmare starts in your own mind.
It happens so slowly that you might not even realize how jaded you’re getting until months later when you’re up to your neck in resentment.
When you first have a problem at your job (because everyone does sooner or later), how you react to that issue will determine how you feel about your job down the line.
Let’s say your manager criticizes your work during a department meeting. You have several choices:
- Feel embarrassed and stew about how much you suck later in your cubicle. You might even complain about your boss to a coworker during your lunch break.
- Make a note of the incident and start documenting all the times you feel wronged at the office. No one knows why you seem pissed off every day, and your “shit list” continues to grow.
- Ask a question to clarify exactly what your manager was expecting…and then realize you misunderstood the project from the beginning. You make a note to ask more questions upfront for the next assignment.
- Set up a private meeting with your manager, apologize for misunderstanding about the assignment, ask for more feedback, take notes about how you can improve, and leave the meeting feeling like you’re both on the same page and there are no hard feelings.
As your coach, I’d suggest options 3 or 4. It’s easy to take offense when someone criticizes our work but—newsflash!—we’re not perfect, and it’s the responsibility of our superiors to make sure assignments are being competed correctly.
Hey, you might start nit-picking people’s work too if (or when) you become a manager.
The way you stop hating your job is to shift your mindset.
That means taking a step back from the emotions you’re feeling in the moment about a certain situation, and instead actively choosing your thoughts and how you want to feel.
You must stop being reactive and become proactive.
This week, let’s play a little game. No, not the one where you steal all the red staplers, pee in the coffee machine, and throw your laptop out the window.
Instead, I want you to “play pretend” and imagine that your current job is the BEST job in the entire world. Seriously, imagine you have never felt so fulfilled and appreciated.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. Get out your journal and answer the following questions. It’s time do some aspiration writing.
If my current position were the best job in the world:
- How would I feel when I wake up in the morning?
- What would I choose to wear?
- What would I eat for breakfast?
- What things or activities would I include as part of my morning routine?
- How would I feel on my commute and what would I be doing?
- How would I walk into the building and what would I be feeling?
- Who would I talk to in the morning before I sit at my desk?
- What would I do to prepare myself for the perfect workday?
- How would I check my email, answer the phone, conduct myself during meetings?
- Would I listen to music during the day? If so, what kind?
- How would I greet people who come to my office?
- How would I talk to my manager, my assistant, the kitchen staff, or anyone else?
- How often would I take breaks and what would I do on my breaks?
- How would I plan my day? Would I plan tomorrow’s tasks before I leave?
- What time would I leave the office?
- Would I bring work home, check email, or think about my job later at night?
- What would be on my mind as I go to sleep?
I know that’s a lot to think about, but I encourage you to give yourself a decent amount of time to journal your thoughts. Really go deep! How exactly would you feel if this were the perfect job?
Once you have an idea about what would be different and how YOU would behave differently, it’s time for you to take responsibility for your happiness and change whatever you have control over.
Before you get out of bed tomorrow, THINK about how you would feel if you were heading off to your dream job. Spend at least a minute basking in those good feelings before you pull back the covers and stand up.
Do those positive things during your morning routine and commute that you wrote about.
- Listen to happy music!
- Wear your favorite shoes!
- Eat the breakfast that gives you energy!
It won’t be an overnight change, but you’ll notice a shift in your attitude and the way you feel at the end of your work day.
And I’m betting the chip on your shoulder won’t feel as heavy.
Keep up your game of make-believe until you don’t have to consciously think about it anymore: ie, your happiness is on autopilot. This might take a few weeks, months, or even longer.
Watch what happens during that time. You’ll notice how other people treat you differently and how things that used to upset you don’t seem like such a big deal anymore.
You might even find new opportunities…like a new job…seem to appear out of nowhere. It happened for me, and I’ve seen it happen for several of my clients.
Have you ever had a job from hell?