It is a sad fact of life that many people hate their jobs or at least want to leave them. Discovering one’s vocation is indeed critical to one’s happiness as all humans long to make large or small contributions to the world with their unique talents and gifts. However, the demands placed upon us in many work environments often tip the balance in such a way that is not conducive to our flourishing and fulfillment. If we harken back to the Hebrew Bible, we see that the ability to work, create and offer our labor is a gift to humankind, but most of us see it as a great burden.
Here are some questions and steps you can take when you find yourself feeling burdened by your job instead of enlivened:
1) Ask yourself what specifically about this job do I hate? For many of us, it’s not the entire job but a few pieces of it such as the commute, the long hours or the expectations of other employees. Isolate the root of the dissatisfaction and see if you can resolve that one area instead of ditching your entire job altogether. For example, if you hate your commute, look for fun audiobooks or music to entertain you. I went through a bout of hating my job and when I isolated the problem, I realized that it wasn’t my job but my own people-pleasing nature that was wearing me out. When I learned to stop people-pleasing as much and follow my needs and instincts, I became much happier.
2) Make your job suited to you rather than the reverse. There’s an idea in the business world right now called “Job Crafting,” which teaches employees that they will never fit into a job description because a job description is not real. It’s a bunch of words. People are real and we contribute best when we give out of our joy and talents. As such, we must craft our jobs to suit us rather than the reverse. Employers really want their employees to succeed so it is important to speak up and tell your employer or fellow staff members what would help you do your job even better. And then find other people or creative ways to do the other work that you hate or you’re not very good at. The founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, shared that she hired her weaknesses at the very start of her company so she could just focus on her strengths.
3) If that kind of innovative thinking won’t fly in your current work place, then try to enhance your experience now while simultaneously planning your next move. Remember that your next opportunity is always a reflection of how present you are to the now.
If you have the luxury to quit, do it! If not or you don’t want to because you want to save more money, ask yourself, what can I change about my own interior life in order to enjoy this job as much as I can? Do I need to be more playful with my coworkers? Can I take advantage of my work’s continuing education offerings to build my own skills? What assets can I gain now while I am still here?
3) Figure out why you chose to be there. Your current job circumstance is 100% your responsibility. Nobody forced you to take the job or forces you to get up and come to work every morning. You choose to do it and there are probably some good reasons why. I have a friend who absolutely abhors her job and her supervisor. She’s a really smart and talented person so when I asked her directly why she was there, she answered without hesitation: because I get a big break on my kid’s preschool tuition. Her employer is tied to a fantastic preschool so she gets a nice employee discount. This realization helps her to stay present and make the most of this job because for her, a good education for her son is her most important priority. And as I shared in this post, identifying our most important priority helps us to deal with the less ideal parts of our situation and make the most of our entire situation.
4) If you just feel completely misaligned in your job field, figure out what does in fact give you energy. I wrote a list of questions in my previous post to direct you towards your vocation when you feel lost:
What gives you life and energy?
What do have an unusual love or penchant for? Even more so than others?
What would you spend your time doing if you didn’t need to make money?
What do you love talking about? That perhaps others even get frustrated with you because you predominantly want to talk about these things?
In what areas do your friends seek your advice and/or assistance and you are happy to give it?
4) Finally, remember that our desire to make meaningful contributions doesn’t need to fit squarely in any specific trade or profession. We too often focus on the shape our labor needs to take rather than the labor itself. Although I have chosen my career path as a minister, I realize that I could fulfill my vocational calling in a variety of ways so long as my core desires to learn, write, teach and lead are met. In that way, switching a career path is not a failure or even a misstep. It was never about the job; it was always about my desire to contribute my gifts to this world.
There’s some food for thought for the week.
Until next Wednesday, au revoir!