Does your job suck?
Are you one of those people who constantly complains about your job? No, really. Stop and think about how you respond anytime someone asks you the seemingly simple “How is work?” Well, my friend, I can tell you that I most certainly WAS that person. I remember unloading all of my work baggage anytime someone would initiate what they thought was going to be “small talk”. My sister, brother-in-law, close friends and husband endured YEARS of listening to me complain about how much I disliked my job. For a very long time, I didn’t realize my response was different from anyone else's response, until it got to the point where I could literally see (and feel) the eye rolls I would get as soon as I started in on my job rant. People were done listening to me, and I was starting to wonder if I was just a whiner. If you’re thinking that this sounds a bit too familiar, I encourage you to keep reading…..
If this sounds like you, what can you do about it? The first thing you can do is to start thinking about what you need to do to change it. If it has gotten to the point where it consumes every conversation you have about work, it is time for something to change. Is it a simple change, like picking up a hobby outside of work to meet your need for fulfillment and meaning? Or is it a more complicated change, like deciding to change careers completely? As you think through this, I caution you to be mindful of what I affectionately call the “rebound effect”. The rebound effect is when we have reached our absolute breaking point with a job – we are 100% completely burned out (or whatever you would like to call that feeling of desperation, exhaustion, frustration, constant irritability, etc., etc.) – and you decide to make a change. When you make the change, you swing so wildly in the opposite direction, that it doesn’t end up being the right situation for you either. For example, you travel 100% of the time for work, and are so sick of being on the road all of the time that you “swing” into a role where you sit behind a desk every single minute of every day. For some that may be the answer, but for others, it is usually a sweet spot in between the two scenarios that gives you the right mix of the two. Think about what appealed to you about the job in the first place, and if the aspect of travel was appealing when you took the job, you probably need to land somewhere in the middle. The same logic applies to dealing with people, conducting research, crunching numbers, writing, and any number of other job components.
The second thing is to try and think about some positive aspects of your role that you can throw into a light conversation. People who are close to you will listen to the deep, dark stuff for a certain amount of time, but eventually, even they will tire of being your venting outlet, and they will write off your complaints unless you start taking action to improve your situation. People who cross your path only on occasion will have even harsher judgment for you, naturally assuming you are a negative person who won’t take action to improve your position in life. Who wants to associate with a person like that? Short answer – no one. Do yourself a favor and find some small, teeny tiny glimmer in your work situation, and bring that into the conversation, and then change the subject. It comes full circle to the idea that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
The final thing is to start taking action. If you can’t stand listening to yourself complain anymore (that’s where I was!), do something about it. The first step I mentioned above was to start thinking about what needs to change. Once you get some clarity on what needs to change, start developing a road map on how to make it happen. Taking action, and moving yourself in a positive direction will help you revive your sense of hope and optimism about your career.
Many of us will find ourselves in a position like this at some point in our career, but if you end up being one of the unlucky folks who stays there until it starts to take a toll on your life outside of work, and on your relationships with others, it’s time to take action. Stop waiting for the situation to fix itself, because <spoiler alert> that isn’t going to happen. The only way to improve your situation is to get more intentional in the management of your career, so get out there and start making things happen!