I interviewed career coach and author, John Strelecky a few weeks ago about what to do if an employee finds they are in this position. We put some of his advice into a bigger story at The Fiscal Times, but I also wanted to share the raw copy he sent to me that I find particularly inspiring. I just finished John's most recent book: "The Why Cafe". If you find the following inspirational or helpful check out "The Why Cafe". It's a quick and easy read but very thoughtful and deep.
As suggested by John, if you hate your jobs here are 8 steps to love it:
#1. Do less of what you hate
It’s amazing how many people hate their jobs, and yet have an escape plan primarily consisting of working even more hours at the job they hate. This will kill you, literally and figuratively. Put in your time each day, do it very well, and then get out of there. Take dance lessons, play softball, see your kids, whatever is your thing that you actually love. It will remind you how much fun it is to do things you love. That will provide great motivation for permanently getting out of a job you hate. Plus, it makes the time at work seem more bearable.
#2. Figure out what you’d love to be doing
People don’t want to help you get a new “job.” Why? Because most people don’t like their job, so they don’t to be responsible for helping you experience something like that. However, if you know what your “dream job” is, or at least your “dream industry”, people will bend over backwards to help you with that. Someone is doing your dream job already, make it you.
By the way, the more you do step #1, the more you’ll get back in touch with what you’d love to be doing. If you haven’t been on your bicycle in a year, it’s tough to remember that there are lots of people out there making a living in the bicycle industry.
#3. Get rid of the biggest bears
Let’s say you decide to go for a walk in the woods. A few minutes into the walk, as you are debating which trail to hike for the day, a team of five bears start chasing you. Three are huge, they will definitely eat you. Two are about the size of large squirrels. Apparently they are pygmy bears. Annoying yes, but life threatening, no. Suddenly you see three bags of bear repellent on the path. You pick them up. Which bears do you direct them at?
Apply this ancient hunter gatherer wisdom to your work life. If you aren’t sure what you do want, apply the time and energy you have toward getting rid of the big things you don’t want. Hate the commute, perfect. Now you know one of the key criteria for your new job, or to negotiate about with your current employer. You want to work from home, or have nothing more than a twenty minute drive from the house.
Can’t stand repetitive tasks. There you go. Either find a way to do different things in your current job, or get one where that’s the case. Even if you just got rid of the two or three things you hated most about your current job, think of how much better life would be.
Once you known what your dream job is, figure out who already has it. Then learn everything you can about those people. How did they get the job, how long did it take, what steps did they take... Then one by one, start imitating those steps until you have a dream job just like theirs. Knowing the route someone else took, gives you hope. No longer are you cutting a path through the dense jungle without even knowing if the path is leading anywhere. Using imitation makes it like walking down the sidewalk. You can definitely walk down the sidewalk. Plus, their story will set your expectations. If it took them two years to get that dream job, you’ll know not to give up after six months.
#5. Know where and when your margarita is being served
Hating your job is painful. Only most people don’t know the real source of that pain. The pain doesn’t just come from the situation you are in. Primarily, it comes from not having something better you are working toward and from not knowing when that something better will be your reality. The pain is, “I can’t believe this is my LIFE!”
You already know this to be true. Think of how you feel when you have a vacation scheduled. Just knowing it’s out there and getting closer every day makes going to work a lot easier. The two weeks before your trip to Cozumel, you almost can’t get the perma-smile off your face. Everyone in the office hates you but you don’t even care. The drudgery is leading somewhere- to a margarita on the beach.
A long term projection for ongoing unhappiness, not temporary discomfort, is what will drive you nuts. Know what your better future looks like and when you are going to be living that, and it takes away much of the pain of a job you hate.
#6. Stop “Needing and Having” and start “Choosing”
From this moment on, substitute the words “choose to” for the words “have to” or “need to” when you are talking about your job. For example, “I have to go to work today,” becomes “I choose to go to work today.”
People get caught in such a victim mentality when it comes to jobs. Yes I know, there’s house payments, and car payments, and credit card bills.... I also know if the doctor told you tomorrow you’d be dead in six months that all those “have to” items would look very different. Which means that with the right motivation, you can and would do things differently. You’d find solutions. You’d take control. So do it now.
You’ll be amazed at how empowering it is when you start acknowledging you are choosing your own situation.
#7. Open some stress free space
It’s tough to move when you’re in a confined space. Which is how most people feel. They’re so busy they don’t have time to think about a new job. And they have so many financial obligations they don’t have money to explore different options.
So the trick is to take away those barriers and open space for something new to grow.
The easiest place to open time is cutting back on work. That was covered in point #1. Most people more than 70% of their awake life Monday through Friday either at work, getting to work, or thinking about work. So either get a job you like, or do less of the one you don’t.
As a reward for working at a job they don’t like, most people spend every penny they make, and then some. They are caught in a childhood paradigm where they were told that if they ate their vegetables they could get ice-cream. Eat a plateful of what you don’t like and you can have a dish of what you do.
Only now they spend twelve hours a day at what they don’t like, and they reward themselves with a quick fix of what they do. The problem is, feeding that quick fix habit ends up bringing more confinement and less options. The new car is only new the first minute you drive it off the lot. The biggest screen TV is only going to be the biggest for a few months until the newest version comes out. Having 380 channels to choose from does not give you the ability to watch more of them at once, or more time to watch them. The satisfaction from the fix goes away, but the debt incurred to get the fix, doesn’t. Which means people feel pressed to work more, but because of that they need the fix so they spend more...and the cycle trends downward from there.
Just for a few months try downsizing the things you spend money on but that don’t really bring you lasting satisfaction. Spend on what you genuinely need, not what gives you the quick fix. Save that money and when you’ve figured out step #2, start putting it toward that.
Open up some space to breathe. You’ll be amazed at how enticing life looks and how many options you’ll have for ways to live it.
#8. Stop perfecting insanity
Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is, “doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.” So many people talk endlessly about how they wish things were different, yet they just keep showing up to the same job every day. Not surprising, things stay the same. According to the latest stats, only 45% of people are satisfied in their job, and worse yet, 64% of workers under 25 report being actually “unhappy” in their job. Those numbers are horrible. Who wants to spend 40 years at a job that makes you “unhappy.”
And yet in order for that to change, something needs to be different. It’s not enough to read the article, it’s about putting the steps into action.
If you had six months left to live, you’d make your life exactly what you wanted it to be. You know you would. So why not do that now, when you’ve got a heck of a lot more than just six months to enjoy it.