Stop the Job Suckage: Day Five

* This ten-day series is designed to help you kickstart a new way of approaching your job or career. Over ten days, we’ll explore how to look objectively at the job/career situation you’re in, and clarify where to go next. For some, that might mean not leaving a job but drastically improving it in some meaningful way. For others, this series will provide some help with clarifying your next career move or pave the way to a transition. You’re strongly encouraged to complete all ten steps, in order, to see what answers you arrive at.

Whenever I used to go to my coach and complain about my previous job, he would ask me how I could effect some kind of change. I was a college teacher and, for instance, one thing I didn’t like was how I would cave in to students because I wanted them to like me. However, I didn’t like me when I used rigid, strict control to keep from being manipulated. I blamed the students a lot for why I didn’t like my job; I wanted to jump ship and quit.

My coach reminded me that I was in charge of whether I liked my job, and that liking myself/my job was tied closely to integrity, and that it’s not a good idea to leave any relationship (personal, friendship, or otherwise) without first “cleaning up your side” and getting fully in integrity.

So today, Day Five, we get into…INTEGRITY.

Integrity is: when your words and actions match, and they are in alignment with your values, beliefs, commitments and life vision.

I was not liking my job because I was out of integrity all over the place. I was complaining rather than doing (words and actions not matching; violation of my life vision–no one has a life vision that involves “complaining a lot”). I was setting up rules and breaking my own rules (more words and actions not matching, breaking commitments). When I was super-strict, I was enforcing rules in ways that were contrary to who I wanted to be in the classroom (contradiction of my values/beliefs). 

I could go on, but I think it’s obvious–I wanted to blame the students, talk about how awful they could be, blame their parents, blame society, blame budget cuts, blame violent neighborhoods, blame blame blame.

But really? I was in charge of bringing my best to the classroom, and it was really hard to do that when I was a.) out of integrity and b.) topping that with a whopping pile of blame to try and avoid owning my part in all of it.

So, it’s time for a tough question: Where in your current job/career are you out of integrity?

Looking at who/what you blame as the cause of unhappiness is an important place to start. There’s probably lots of juice there.

And, by the way–kudos to you for being willing to even consider looking at this, because it’s tough. Noticing where we’re out of integrity is really, really simple (as a step) yet really, really hard (to embrace).

Of all the steps I took, this was the most important. I knew that if I didn’t “clean up my side” and get into integrity before leaving that relationship, I’d just bring the same old patterns to my next job. I’d still abuse myself in the same ways, blame others in the same ways, and try not to own my own part.

A funny thing happened when I did get in integrity with myself around the guidelines I was setting up with students–when I clarified the message I wanted to send and then stuck to it, letting go of the worry that I wouldn’t be liked–students actually thanked me for being strict. They said things about how it kept them motivated. Even better? The occasional belligerent challenges I’d been subjected to when a student didn’t like it if I asked them to turn papers in on time disappeared–in fact, students said things to me when turning in something late, like, “Hey, I know I’m turning this in late, and I’m sorry about that…”

Once the students were no longer the source of blame, my Resistance/Ego/Inner Critic/Fearful Self shifted, and then spent some time blaming the administration, or society, or the curriculum. 

And one by one, looking at my part, getting into integrity with me, I slooowly dropped the resentment I had around my job. 

This didn’t mean that I chose to stay in that job (why, as some of you may have heard…I’m my own Boss Lady/CEO/CFO/VIP). I ultimately knew that teaching English was not quite the right line of work for me–and I discovered that when I even took the very powerful step of getting in integrity by totally creating a curriculum that I was excited about (rather than complain about the dull curriculum that I’d thought I was forced to work with) and then realized that at the end of it all, my heart was still called to something different.

Getting in integrity with your job–doing all that you can to bring the qualities you know you want in your life into your job, right here, right now, no waiting, no putting the onus on someone else to “fix it” or change it–this is BIG. It’s powerful. 

It’s not something you do because you want to stay in the same line of work–it’s something to undertake because it feels more powerful to live that way. It is THE thing that can shift any job, any relationship.

So–again with this question–what are you more committed to? Resistance, or stopping the Job Suckage, aka, getting into integrity, aka, getting fully into your life?

P.S. If you are still interested in signing up for The Courageous Year but you missed the January 1 deadline, I’m extending it to January 15th! If you are contemplating making big changes this year, this course will support you with that–with exercises, interviews, discussion forums, live conference calls, and who knows what more we’ll dream up? Sign up for the e-course today.

Stop the Job Suckage: Day Four

* This ten-day series is designed to help you kickstart a new way of approaching your job or career. Over ten days, we’ll explore how to look objectively at the job/career situation you’re in, and clarify where to go next. For some, that might mean not leaving a job but drastically improving it in some meaningful way. For others, this series will provide some help with clarifying your next career move or pave the way to a transition. You’re strongly encouraged to complete all ten steps, in order, to see what answers you arrive at.

Day Four: The “Can’ts.”

Perhaps you read yesterday’s post and decided that you “can’t” find any solutions to incorporating a particular quality into your current career/job.

Perhaps because there’s no time, no money, or because someone else won’t let you.

Yesterday I offered the example of bringing creativity into the workplace, and offered some example hypothetical solutions. One was to see if people from the office would be interested in getting together for a once a month art group.

Resistance–which is codename for that fear-based part of ourselves that doesn’t want to try anything new because it would be, ugh, hard–is going to say something about how that’s a lot of effort, and you don’t even like the people from work anyway, and no one else is creative, and they’re not creative the way you want them to be creative, and you don’t have a house where that could happen, and you’d feel stupid if you put it out there and no one responded, and…

Okay, cool. So Resistance has all of that come up. Now–what are you more committed to? Resistance, or stopping the Job Suckage?

If, right now, you’re more committed to Resistance, that’s okay. No need to cue the grand inquisitor. You’re not bad or wrong. You’re just at where you’re at.

If you read that and thought, “No, you don’t get it, I’m not committed to Resistance–I want to CHANGE,” then we circle right back to that list of brainstorming, and all of the myriad possible ways that life could get shaken up and look different because you were courageous enough to take a new step. 

Whatever Resistance comes up for you, accept it and then work through it. Beating down Resistance with happy affirmations does not work (you heard it here, first). Accepting that you have Resistance, that “Can’ts” come up, is part of the work. Courageously making a different choice is another part of the work.

What are you more committed to?

Maybe you’re overworked at your office and you want peace. Maybe you brainstormed solutions like, “Delegate work to someone else” because you were thinking of any possibility, but really, you can’t imagine that that will ever be a possibility–there are budget cuts, there is no one else who can take the work, etc.

Okay, fine–that might not ever happen. In what other ways can you bring peace to the workplace? Five minute meditation? Closing your eyes and breathing for thirty seconds?

Resistance is going to pop up and go–”But that’s not what I WANT, I want the kind of peace that comes from not having as much work; it won’t work for me to close my eyes and meditate, I NEED the solution to be that someone else takes this work off of my hands!”

Recognize that that is Resistance. Resistance is going to tell you that it’s all or nothing. Resistance is going to tell you that taking any step that is not THE SOLUTION is wrong.

So, to what are you more committed?

Review your list of brainstorming items. Put a star next to the ones that you most wish would happen. Put a checkmark next to the ones that you notice you are most Resistant to–the ones you believe are most impossible to have happen.

Challenge: start daydreaming about the changes you most wish would happen, working out possibilities like you’d move puzzle pieces around to see where things fit. Notice the Resistance that comes up.

Stop the Job Suckage: Day Three

* This ten-day series is designed to help you kickstart a new way of approaching your job or career. Over ten days, we’ll explore how to look objectively at the job/career situation you’re in, and clarify where to go next. For some, that might mean not leaving a job but drastically improving it in some meaningful way. For others, this series will provide some help with clarifying your next career move or pave the way to a transition. You’re strongly encouraged to complete all ten steps, in order, to see what answers you arrive at.

Badda-bing, Badda-boom! You have now…

1.) Written out your ideal day, from start to finish

2.) Identified the most important qualities of that ideal day.

(If you haven’t done these first two steps and want to see the previous days, click the “job suckage” category to the left of this entry)

Today, Day Three, it’s time to get pro-active.

Exercise: Brainstorm at least 3 different ways that each quality could some how be incorporated into your current job situation. Brainstorm solutions even if you think that they aren’t likely to happen (note: fire-bombing is not an option).

For instance, perhaps you work for a large corporate entity and you have identified that “creativity” is a quality to bring into your ideal day. Perhaps you are a receptionist, and the idea that you will ever be able to fulfill your longing to become a mixed-media artist while somehow sitting at that desk seems like it’s a total pipe dream. The goal with this exercise is to bring the quality of creativity into your current workspace, because bringing the qualities that are important to you into your current job will make the job seem just a smidge better. It empowers you to create the life you want, with the circumstances you’ve got–and that is Powerful with a big, phat-ass “P.”

Here are some possible brainstorms for such a hypothetical situation:

1.) make art on my lunch break

2.) organize people from work into a monthly art group

3.) carry around art in my wallet/purse/briefcase and look at it often

4.) creatively answer the phone–make it a game to see how many creative ways I can think of to make everyone I talk to feel really great as a result of talking to me

5.) create a piece of artwork, scan it, set it as my desktop screensaver.

Those are just a few random ideas for one quality–creativity. Brainstorm at least three ideas for each quality you’d like to bring into your current job/workplace. The value of how the small things add up is best explained in a quote I heard once. A CEO had turned around a failing company and people asked him how he did it. He replied, “It’s not that we did one thing, 100% better. We did 100 things, just 1% better.”

Lots of “1% betters” can add up to “100% better.”

Now why would you do this, if you know for absolute certain that you are in the WRONG JOB?

I encourage you to do this because this is the 100% fail-safe way to a.) test out whether the jobby-job is the real issue or the scapegoat issue for why life is not working, and b.) because it’s more powerful to make positive shifts even in situations you dislike than it is to wallow, and c.) because if you’re still in the WRONG JOB, theoretically you have not up and quit because you need to wait to do that…you need another job, or to build up your biz on the side, or for Obama to push universal health coverage through so that your kidlets won’t end up with untreated cases of rickets because you jumped ship from that employer HMO. And if you’re in the WRONG JOB for the next three months or year or whatever, why not make it a little more palatable? Why not build some character? Why wallow when there is possibility around every corner?

I’m kind of laughing at myself as I type this, because I absolutely know that when I started to do this work myself, I was all, “Are you kidding me?” It seemed like a colossal waste of time.

And now, on the other side of all of that, having taken these steps, I see how important it was that I acted with all of the integrity I could muster. I felt stronger and more powerful every time I made a choice to put my all into what I was doing. For someone having doubts, I’d ask–what would that feel like for you?

I’ll also add that tomorrow, I’m going to address the “Can’ts” that might have come up for some of you in response to this call for action.

Get started–no need to wait for the right time, the right MOOD, the right pencil, the right…just dive right in and brainstorm at least 3 solutions for each quality that you identified in the previous exercise. Left your qualities list at home? Lost it? The dog ate it? Start brainstorming just based on what you remember, and fill in the blanks later.