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.

coming together

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What I think more than anything else is that I feel more alive than I had felt before, and the surprise has been that “alive” is not always euphoria.

Sometimes “alive” is a thin razor’s edge away from the cold, bracing wind of fear.

no case of the mondays

This post was written in December 2009. It documents my transition from part-time to full-time coaching.

I noticed this thing that happened over the weekend, on Saturday. Basically, as Saturday afternoon wound into Saturday evening, I started to mentally run through what was coming up next. The thought process was something like, “Okay, so let’s see: today is Saturday, tomorrow’s Sunday. What’s going on tomorrow? Anything I need to get done before Monday?”

There was this immediate dip in my mood as I thought about “having to” go to this job that I hated, and then remembering that in fact I am not teaching this upcoming Monday, and this caused an immediate lift, a sense of palpable relief. My work for the past year has been to notice that dip in mood every Sunday evening, and to remind myself not to give it too much power.

It occurred to me that I’ve been doing that dance with the weekend for a loooong time–far longer than I’d like to admit to the blogosphere, in fact. Some weekends I was able to not give Monday too much power, and other weekends, I was far less successful. There are a lot of dimensions of this that I could write about and will go into some other time–for now, I want to write about how strange it feels to realize that there is nothing for me to “push against,” work-wise, any longer.

Does that make any sense?

There’s this “thing” about work–people like to complain about their jobs. In fact, it seems to me that jobs are an easy dumping ground for most of life’s problems. Jobs become the thing that constrain our time and “suck our souls.” As a coach, I’ve noticed that each of us–that includes me–have our defaults for where we’ll put our blame/drama, and work is often enough the place where we put that blame/drama because job titles don’t get hurt feelings when you call them names, the way our loved ones would if we were blaming them (though for all of us at times, that can be another source of blame).

This Monday is the first Monday of the rest of my life. I have an entirely different set of questions to confront about my working life, namely about what it means for me to be/feel productive. ┬áThere is no longer that thing to “push against,” in the work realm, so my work now becomes making sure that whatever tendencies I have to create drama or complain don’t get pushed into some other area just to fill the void.

I’m also sort of in awe of the spaciousness of that void–of how big it got. I don’t yet have words to explain what it is like to see what I’m passionate about move into center focus, instead of being something I work on on the sides. I’m already noticing that it feels really weird to manage my computer time–the computer is often enough a source of both work and entertainment. Where do the two overlap?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the steps it took for me to actually let go of my teaching job–because it was really, really hard–and realized that my coach and I approached it all in a very methodical way designed to be as in integrity as possible. I wrote down each piece and what I’m going to do is this–starting on January 1st, 2010, I’m going to post ten consecutive steps towards Stopping the Job Suckage. Stay tuned!