If you hate your job and dread the idea of going to work tomorrow, the real reason why may surprise you. It’s not because you have a lot to do or because your manager’s a jerk. It’s not the customers, the problems, or your company’s business strategy.
The real reason why is because you’re not being honest with yourself.
I frequently get asked to do “informational interviews” with people who think they might like to be coaches, consultants or speakers. These are not job interviews; just networking and sharing information. One day, I had a woman come see me who was wearing flip-flops and capris. I thought that was a little informal, given the fact that we all dress professionally in our office. But since we were just chatting, it was not that big a deal.
I asked her why she was considering consulting, and she barely smiled. “Oh, I thought it was something I could do to earn more money. Our daughter is leaving for college, and I have an MBA and some business background.” There was no enthusiasm in her voice; no real interest in how she could use her experience and talent to develop leaders and build others’ careers.
I could see the conversation was going nowhere, and tried to end it by handing her my business card.
Then something magical happened. She handed me her business card. But this was no ordinary business card. It was brilliantly designed. Her name popped off the surface and practically danced in the air. It was the kind of card that said, “you need to get to know this person!”
“Where did you get this card?” I asked, wishing I had something similar.
“Oh,” she said casually, “I designed it.”
“You designed it?” I asked. “It’s fabulous! What else have you designed?”
Suddenly, she lit up like fireworks over a championship stadium after winning the pennant. She opened the portfolio she had with her, which had gone unnoticed and unmentioned before this, and showed me photos of the most beautiful rugs I had ever seen.
“You made these?” I asked, stunned by what I was seeing.
She started smiling. “I create the designs; I have weavers do the rest.”
I laughed. The capris and flip-flops made perfect sense now. “Why on earth are you talking to me? You’re not a consultant; you’re a rug designer!”
Suddenly, she pulled herself up straight and threw back her shoulders. “You’re right! I just needed someone to tell me that,” she said, and practically flew out the door. She now has not one, but two showrooms in a major design center, and has created rugs for celebrities, politicians and a lot of other very happy customers.
The point is this: by pursuing what she thought she should do or could do, she was miserable. But when she gave herself permission to pursue what she would do if she stopped obeying her beliefs and fears, she was unstoppable.
If you like where you are now but are feeling stuck or bored, consider Tabitha’s approach. Tabitha is a security guard for one of my clients. She could easily sit behind the front desk and watch the people who come in the building, but that’s not her style. On any given day, you’ll find Tabitha at the front door. She doesn’t stand there; she opens it for each and every person.
As she does, she flashes a brilliant smile and wishes each person a good morning. It’s impossible not to smile back, and it’s a fact that it’s biologically impossible to feel bad when you’re smiling, so she’s helping people feel good on their way into work. No one asked her to be the doorman or the promoter of happiness; it’s her choice. Interestingly enough, some people use an alternate door, either because they don’t see her or can’t bring themselves to smile back. Tabitha’s fine either way. She’s doing her job brilliantly, because no one escapes her attention. And she’s also doing it honestly, being 100% true to herself and her own style.
It’s not always possible to do what you love or love what you do. But it is always possible to love yourself doing it. The reason doesn’t have to be noble or noteworthy; just honest and in tune with your character. My husband and I had lunch at a franchise restaurant last weekend, and we both noticed one employee who we thought was the cashier. But as we ate, we noticed that he also appointed himself chief waiter (it was the kind of place where you stood and waited for your food, but he told people to sit down and he’d bring it to them), customer service manager, stock manager and more.
It was an ordinary job in an ordinary place doing ordinary things, but he was doing each one extraordinarily. His actions spoke volumes about his character, and I had no doubt that he was making the effort not because he had to, but because he loved how he felt about himself as he did it.
When we finished our meal, I went over to him and said, “If you’re not the owner, you should be.” He seemed very pleased with my comment, although clearly he was working from his own strong inner compass.
If any of these is true for you, tune in to your inner voice that’s saying what you or others should or would do. These are the bread crumbs leading you to what you could do. If you need a tool to help you do this, consider Byron Katie’s “Judge Your Neighbor” worksheet, which guides you through a simple four-step process to turn around your thoughts. http://thework.com/en/tools-do-work Her website and YouTube both offer videos on how to fill out the worksheet and help yourself.
In a previous blog, I spoke about how the purpose of your life is to be you. You can get a different job, but your purpose will still be to be yourself in it, and if you don’t, can’t or won’t, you’ll hate the work.
So the question is: can you be honest with yourself? If you are ready and able, admit that there’s something you would love to do, and go do it. As my friend Duane used to say, “Make a decision, and then make it good.”
If the timing isn’t right for you to start over, switch industries or job hunt, can you be honest with yourself about what parts of your values and/or personality you’ve been burying because you think they won’t fit what you’re currently doing?
It’s really not your job that you hate. It’s that you hate not being you.
4445 West 77th St. Suite 130 Edina, MN 55435