You used to love your job but now it's all gone wrong!
Have you got to the stage in your career where you hate getting up in the morning? You dread the long day ahead. Your stomach sinks when you think of that work colleague who, with one sarcastic comment, can manage to cast a gloom over the rest of your day. You feel undervalued and you just don’t care. The job you loved is not doing it for you anymore. How did it all get to this? Where did it all go wrong?
When your job is going well, the world is a different place. However hard the challenges, however long the hours you put in, you feel energised and alive, ready to take on the day. You feel good because you know that what you do matters, that you are appreciated and respected. Furthermore, you work with a team of people who have got your back however tough things get.
But what if this isn’t happening?
Take back control
It is well established that stress levels increase when the control you have over your own workload decreases. Perhaps your line manager keeps piling on the work unthinkingly or even with good intentions in the belief that you can cope? Under these circumstances it is no wonder that you start to feel panicky and unfocussed. As much as you want it to, the problem won’t miraculously disappear. So don’t sit in silence.You need to start taking back control. You need to start articulating your needs and communicate to your boss about what’s bothering you.
When colleagues are the problem
But what if your workplace colleagues are not playing fair? You may like your job but there are one or two co-workers who, through design or thoughtlessness, continue to make your working day a nightmare. Constant undermining, exclusion and downright bullying can be a toxic mix in any workplace. This is not only hard on the individual affected but can affect the dynamics within the whole team. If difficult co-workers are the problem create some space to think about what is really happening here. Why is that person acting in that way? Plan to deal with this calmly and importantly constructively. This will take determination. However, it is likely that other colleagues will have suffered from the same bad behaviour. They may not be as courageous as you but will certainly thank you for speaking up.
But what if it is you who is the problem?
Have you ever thought that maybe it is you who’s scuppering the smooth operation of your workplace? An uncomfortable notion perhaps. From time to time we can all get completely wrapped up in our own sense of importance, busy-ness and drive that we simply forget the effect that that has on the rest of the team. If you start to feel that there are tensions in the workplace, if you feel that you can sometimes cut the atmosphere with a knife then find the courage to have an honest, open discussion with colleagues about what is bothering them. As toe-curling as it may be, pluck up the courage to ask them, or even just a trusted colleague to suggest what aspects of your own behaviour may be triggering a stressful atmosphere in your workplace. Then resolve to approach this situation with a fresh pair of eyes.
Work is often all encompassing however fulfilling and exhilarating it can be. And in that situation you may find it very difficult to switch off even when you are enjoying some down time with family. The culture of overwork is widespread. As Madeleine Bunting warned in her excellent book Willing Slaves some years ago, there is a ‘sheer invasive dominance of work in people’s lives’, the high cost of which has an impact on ‘their health and happiness’.
For example, technology means that we are contactable at home at all times. Convenient in one way but this also blurs the boundaries between personal and working life. And even though many of us are now working from home because of the pandemic, with the trend likely to continue, the challenges may still remain. It is all so easy to compulsively check emails for example at all times of the day and night. Whilst more and more companies are putting in place strategies to encourage a better work/life balance this is still far from universal. It is likely that our working lives will be longer than ever and we are in this for the long haul. Therefore, for the sake of our health and wellbeing it does make sense to address this issue sooner rather than later.
Stay or leave? But do it on your terms
Despite your best efforts, you may have come to the conclusion that your present job is simply not working for you any more. However much you rearrange the deckchairs you really are part of a sinking ship. If your heart tells you that it is time to go then make the decision to do so. Give yourself a deadline and start to work on your exit strategy. Making such a big commitment to leave your job or in fact taking action to make a stand within your job can be a daunting experience. But imagine the cost to your wellbeing of not doing so. Resolve to take ownership of your future. Delay no longer and take action.
[Image: Brock Wegner]