I’m proud of myself.
It may not seem like much but in every situation, I have gone from getting desperate and frantic to repeating over and over, “I have a choice here!”
This shift in mindset has done wonders to the actual outcomes. At first, I would say it but not believe it. Yet, even just hearing the words gave me hope and hope led to decision and action. So then I started to believe it. It is a fact that we always have a choice, and that is an empowering position to be in!
Thinking back to my corporate years, most of my peers including myself were unhappy at our jobs, especially following the changes at our workplace in the early 2000s. I clearly remember standing in the hallways and griping about our jobs, and as misery found company, we felt better momentarily.
But we did nothing about our situation. We could not conceive of quitting our jobs; we needed our paychecks. Most of us had loans and mortgages, and other obligations. How irresponsible would it be to abandon good pay just because we were miserable?
Well, that would not have been responsible, I grant us that much, but we did have choices, and looking back, we did not make the best ones. Later in my career, I learned more about all the options available to us at the same company, and it’s all about choices.
So you don’t like your job. You don’t want to do it anymore. You need the paycheck. You can’t quit. Now what?
Remember, you have choices and first, here’s a challenge to prepare you for the choices: Put a cap on griping and complaining right now.
Sign a contract with you starting tomorrow that says no complaining for one day. Then extend it to one week. Then one month. Honor this contract and take it seriously and just watch what happens to your energy, mindset, and perspective.
Even if you cannot change jobs, you can change the conditions around your job. I want to encourage you to look at your situation as more fluid and flexible and the people that you work with as more cooperative and understanding than you give them credit.
Now, let us consider 3 steps you can take to better work when you can’t quit your job:
1. Establish New Boundaries:
If you have been at your job a while, you have probably set some expectations of what you are and aren’t willing to do. Most of us tend to overdo the former and then wonder why we are so unhappy.
You control your situation more than you can imagine. Your boss expects you to deliver certain nonnegotiable tasks, sure, but what else are you saying yes to without even being aware of it?
- Are you doing extra work that doesn’t even get noticed?
- Do you say yes to everyone who has a request or needs a favor?
- Do you work overtime just by default?
- Have you taken a day off recently?
- Do you honor your time with your family over more work?
Consider the worst part of your job and think about re-establishing boundaries in that area first. What small changes can you make with new boundaries that can have a large impact on the backend in your life?
And I’ll go ahead and bust your biggest fear right now: Establishing a new and reasonable boundary won’t get you fired!
2. Ask for a New Project or Responsibility
Change is wonderfully refreshing and if you are in a rut in your job, a change of responsibility can create new excitement.
Even in a start-up company with 20 people, you can move around on a few projects. In a large company, obviously you have many choices.
A lot of people fear moving around, but if you work for a caring boss who has your best interest at heart while still keeping you at the company, he or she will work together with you to create this necessary change.
You need to set expectations with your boss about where you can add more value and why you want to move on, and be very sincere in doing so at a time that does not hurt your current team or projects.
- Where can you go to grow more professionally?
- What project can push you to learn more and take on new skills?
- Which direction in the company will engage you with like-minded co-workers and teams?
A change to a new project or responsibility awakens your learner’s mind. You meet new co-workers, get exposed to new opportunities, and show that you are willing to take on change – a good sign for leadership teams to observe.
All the while, you stay true to your paycheck!
3. Focus on Your Long-Term Vision
Chances are if you are unhappy in your job, someday you will move on to bigger and better things but you don’t have to wait until that day arrives to get ready for it!
You can start preparing a smart exit plan now. The reason this can create for a better work situation is because you are creating hope for the future, and that can keep you going strong in the present time. We all know of situations where we had to stay put temporarily and what keeps us moving forward is having a plan and a vision for the future.
- Spend your idle hours creating the long-term vision of your professional career.
- What do you really want to do?
- What kind of work do you find meaningful and fulfilling?
- How can you really turn it into profit?
You can take baby steps toward that direction now, and not only will it make for a better use of your time and energy, it will propel you to shoot for the stars.
And low and behold, you might just land on the moon!
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