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Unhappy at work? Do this first

Your first priority for a work-life crisis

When clients come to see me for the first time, they usually know ‘something’ about their work needs to change, but they have no idea where to start. They often feel confused, over-whelmed and wonder how they can possibly turn things around.

In that first conversation I always ask “if you could wave a magic wand, how would things be different for you in six months time?” Sure, I’ll often get an inspiring summary of how their work might have changed or how they might have gained a promotion, started their own business or improved their relationships with colleagues. And then there might be the throwaway comment of ‘oh I haven’t been sleeping well’ and ‘well I probably have been feeling quite stressed’.

It’s those throwaway comments I’m often most interested in. Why? Because these symptoms can have a detrimental ripple effect that undermines your ability to take action and make (often challenging) decisions which could transform the course of your career.

Address your ‘foundations’ first

A building cannot stand without its foundations. And neither can you. Here are some of the most common examples of symptoms that can get overlooked when you want to make a positive change:

  • not sleeping or broken sleep;
  • feeling stressed or anxious;
  • no time to yourself;
  • low energy;
  • low mood;
  • lack of focus or motivation;
  • feeling irritable and short-tempered;
  • short term memory gaps;
  • doubting your competence and abilities
  • difficulty in concentrating.

A lot of these symptoms reflect a degree of ‘burn-out’ . Burn-out usually comes with a  level of depletion where you tend to feel less optimistic, you don’t have as much confidence in your ability and your brain is more likely to resort to ‘black and white’ thinking. You don’t necessarily need to be working too hard for too long to feel burned-out. Many people actually find the experience of being under-worked or lacking sufficient challenge to be even more exhausting.

As you can probably guess this is not the optimum state to take action about your future. The best decisions come from a state of optimism, creativity and growth rather than a short-term, panicked choice that does nothing for your future happiness. Of course there are people out there who know, with complete certainty, that their corporate job makes them so miserable that they must immediately go and live in an ashram in India. But they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

Don’t wait to feel better

Many people prefer to ignore these ‘foundation’ symptoms because they attribute it to the job they hate. So they think “it’ll be fine, once I’ve got myself this shiny new job all will be well and all of my problems will disappear”. Again, for a small minority this might be true. But it’s usually more complicated than that.

Waiting to feel better sets up an ‘I’ll be happy when…’ dynamic which not only hinders your decision making ability, but also creates a self-imposed limit on how much better you can feel right now.

Take action

If you suffer from any of the above symptoms, start today in prioritising your own needs to address them.

I would love you to answer this question: imagine, if a miracle occurred, and you no longer had that [stress, insomnia, anxiety or other symptom], of all the many things that would change in your life, what one small thing would you be doing differently?

I invite you to do that small thing today. Then why not try out asking yourself the same question tomorrow and the next day and the next? Huge changes can occur by creating small, manageable changes every day. Just like a snowball rolling down a hill, with more change sticking to it.

If you are feeling unhappy at work but don’t know where to start, I invite you to book on to my completely free, no obligation Clarity and Confidence call. After just 45 minutes you’ll be clearer on where to start and have the confidence to get going.

2 August 2018