Can You Fall In Love With Your Job?

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1. What’s Going On That Bothers You?

2. Why Does Your Job Bother You?

3. How You Can Change It

According to Gretchen Spreitzer, University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business – the three main reasons people are dissatisfied with their job are:

1. Their job has no meaning or purpose to them

2. It provides little opportunity to learn, or

3. It leaves them depleted at the end of the work day

(Source: http://hbr.org/2012/01/creating-sustainable-performance/ar/1)

SO, WHAT’S GOING ON THAT BOTHERS YOU?

Now, it’s easy to find reasons why you don’t like your job, and you may relate to one or more of the above. Without doubt you need to understand precisely what bothers you, otherwise you could leap out of the fire and into the proverbial frying pan.

You may be completely clear what the problem is, if you’re not – consider if it has something to do with your communication with colleagues, subordinates, or superiors. Maybe you feel undervalued, disrespected, used, underpaid, manipulated etc.

Write a list of things that bother you (before continuing).

For me, I found that I was getting increasingly frustrated at the lack of creativity in my job. I realised that no matter how far I got in the company I would always be unfulfilled creatively.

I’m going to presume that you’d like to change something about your situation, so let’s take a look at ‘why’ the things on your list bother you. And it might not be what you think.

WHY DOES YOUR JOB BOTHER YOU?

Believe me, it’s very rarely the money although most of us think that’s a big factor.

Take a look at the list you’ve written about what bothers you, read it a few of times over the next 24 hours as this will help you understand the ‘why’ behind each one. The real ‘why’ – not just because it annoys you, or undermines you, or doesn’t pay well, or your boss is this or that, but rather, see if there is a more emotional reason – such as it reminds you of a time when you were bullied as a child, or reminds you of someone saying you weren’t good enough or not trying hard enough.

These associations can have powerful effects on our state of mind, and we can often blow things out of proportion because of them. We all need to be really honest with ourselves as we explore this. A bad association from the past can leave a hair trigger in our subconscious if we let it.

Considering these three questions about why you chose your job will help:

1. Is this the job you dreamed of as a kid?

2. Is this something you stumbled into or maybe were groomed for by a parent or sibling?

3. Did you choose this job just because you needed the work?

If it was what you dreamed of, then in what ways is it not working out as you planned or hoped? It might be the people, maybe some difficult aspects of the work you hadn’t considered, or is it the working environment you don’t like?

If it is something you’ve stumbled or been coerced into, then is it what YOU really want. Who are you trying to please and why? Who might be upset or disappointed if you decided to quit?

If it’s just a job because you needed to DO something, what would have to change for you to love it? Are there aspects of it that you do like?

Exploring the answers to these three questions could make it clear ‘why’ you’re dissatisfied right now. Read your list of what bothers you and ask ‘Why does that bother me?’ after each one. Your subconscious will offer up reason after reason, and it probably won’t be the first thing you think of. So as you come up with a reason ask again: ‘Why does THAT bother me?’ and so on until you happen upon a reason that really makes sense. A core reason.

For me I started by thinking that the long hours were what bothered me, then the pressure of constant deadlines, then the interference from my boss in the planning.

As I continued asking ‘why’, all reasons came back to my feeling stifled creatively, and not feeling like I was in control of my own destiny.

Hopefully this exercise will help you discover ‘why’ your present job bothers you and next we’ll go on to the last part of this topic:

HOW YOU CAN CHANGE IT

Understanding what your own core values are will be a good indicator to whether the culture you are working in is a good fit for you. Write a list of your values and compare them with what you think your company stands for. Trust, honesty, fairness, responsibility for example. Then ask what you can learn from the answers.

My core values turned out to be ‘Taking Responsibility’ for myself and that taught me that ‘Taking Action’ towards my goals was my route to fulfillment.

In trying to change how you feel about your job The Harvard Business Review advises:

Look at yourself – could you be the cause of the issue?

Find meaning – finding meaning and purpose in what we do often leads to motivation and inspiration.

Alter what you do – by simply acting a different way you will change the results that you get, things could improve by that alone.

Change who you interact with – often the catalyst for upset is another person, avoid them if possible, alter how you react to them by using some calming techniques such as deep breathing and pausing before responding

Resist complaining – what you think about you bring about – literally your own complaining could be creating some or all of the dissatisfaction you are experiencing.

Other ways may be to examine your company and identify other departments or sections you’d rather work in, then, retrain to work there if you need to.

Facing your fears can cause massive change too. If you are afraid of asking for a raise or to transfer to another department or to confront that colleague etc. weigh up the pros and cons of acting anyway. What are the potential consequences of facing your fear? Once you identify them they usually shrink – even if it’s just a little. Also, if you can identify them – then accept them, it’s much easier to take that step into the fearful.

Now let’s look on the positive side…

What is it that you like about your job? Everyone likes something about their job, no matter how small. What was it that first excited you about your job? Think of 5 things you like about your job right now and write them down.

Was that difficult? If so, then it’s possible you’re in the wrong job, or the wrong company. If not, then there’s still hope that you can fall in love with your job.

SOME COMMON MISTAKES

Let’s identify a couple of mistakes people make (I certainly did) when considering their present career situation.

1. I’m stuck and there’s nothing I can do about it. Actually, you just feel stuck. There’s plenty you can do about it which I’ll be discussing in my next article ‘How to Change Jobs’.

2. I need to quit this job right now. If you have the finances in place then possibly, if not, this is the worst thing you can do. It’s easier to get a job from a job – ask anyone that’s been unemployed for a while. Take time to consider your options (more about this in the next article).

3. This is the wrong time to look for another job. With the economy as it is, unemployment still high, inflation out-pacing pay rises – it would certainly seem that way. But actually, recession is a furnace for opportunity and I’ll be discussing how you can identify yours in the next article.

JOB CHANGE EXAMPLE

When I decided to quit my job 10 years ago I had previously thought all of the above. I had a ‘stuck in a rut’ mindset for years. That changed, and my circumstances followed shortly after. As I look back I realise I had more options than I could possibly have imagined – fortunately I pursued more than one which has led to a much more balanced and fulfilled lifestyle now. This can happen for you too.

If you found during reading this article that there were things about your job you liked, or even loved, then I suggest this… spend the next 30 days doing your absolute best. Be punctual, stay late if necessary, help as many colleagues as you can – give 100% no matter what.

If after that you still feel stuck, confused or helpless read on.

NOTE: A lot of people resist taking the time to actually do the writing exercises – but believe me, it’s a small effort compared to the daily grind each day, and these exercise will absolutely help you get clearer about your situation and possible solutions.

SUMMARY

We started by exploring what it is about your present job that bothers you, whether that was a lack of purpose or meaning, lack of opportunity to learn and progress or that you’re simply exhausted on a daily basis.

We then discussed ‘why’ these things bothered you. Maybe there are associations being made from previous experiences from when you were younger. We asked why you chose this job in the first place and why those decisions may have led to your present dissatisfaction.

And then we looked at ways you can change your present circumstances and fall back in love with your job or at least identify whether you need to change it. We wrapped up with some common mistakes people make when they are feeling frustrated and trapped by their job – if this is you, please hold on at least until you’ve read the next article: ‘How To Change Jobs’.

In that we will go deeper into how you decide to move on and what you move on to.

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