I was wishing for a car crash!
Yes, really. At one point, I hated my job (and probably myself) so much that I would drive to work just longing for someone to plough into me. I didn’t want to die. I just wanted to be injured badly enough that I could take some time off work without having to feel guilty.
And, if I’m completely honest, I never even gave a thought to how the other driver (and possibly passengers) would come out of it. I just drove in every single morning sure that I wouldn’t be able to survive another day. But of course I did.
And you know, the funny thing, is that no one else really knew. I mean sure, I’d join in with the daily whinge fest of how much we all hated our jobs but, actually, I thrived on the pressure. I always appeared confident and, for the most part, composed. And yet I was miserable. When I speak to my former colleagues now, they never quite believe just how low I was. Because, from their perspective, I had it all.
Oddly enough, a couple of years later, when I finally was involved in a serious accident – albeit on my bike and due to my own lack of concentration – I dashed back to a job I hated (another one), long before I was physically and emotionally ready, because I still felt racked with guilt about taking time off.
Anyway, while I hope you don’t hate your job so much that you’re willing to sacrifice your physical wellbeing, I’m willing to bet that there are many of you that are sacrificing emotional wellbeing, for the sake of paying bills and accumulating possessions.
But today I don’t want to talk to you about the futility of buying “stuff”. Because, even though it may not always be the best use of your hard earned cash, I know you love it. And sometimes I do too. So instead, I’d like to share with you the exact ways that I made my work more tolerable, while hatching a proper plan for escape.
Because, as summer draws to a close, and many are preparing to head back to work after a nice relaxing break, that feeling of dread is probably starting to creep back in….
1. Find things in your work to feel good about
Even if that sounds impossible, I’d like you to do it. And write them down, because too often thoughts are fleeting and quickly forgotten. So, think about the type of work you do, your achievements, how you’ve grown as a person, the salary, the responsibility or the lack of responsibility, your colleagues and customers, the difference you make, the environment you work in, the location, the hours, the coffee shop down the street, or anything else.
Pick out the things that really do work for you. Because there will definitely be aspects that you do like, even if they’re few and far between, and I want you to choose to be grateful for those good things; rather than filling your head with all the crappy stuff.
For me, it was some of my colleagues, the salary that paid for our lifestyle, and the fact that if I could handle working with certain very difficult people, then I could handle working with anyone. Also, in time, I realised that it was thanks to working in a place that made me miserable, that I was finally able to discover the inner strength to pursue a life that I absolutely love.
2. Isn’t that interesting?
One of the world’s foremost personal development experts, Jim Rohn, introduced me to this concept, for emotionally letting go when things don’t go your way. So, if your boss is a #@$?*%, a colleague is in a lousy mood, you feel taken for granted, or your customers are making things difficult, simply say to yourself, “Now, isn’t that interesting?”
You see, by simply changing the way you mentally process a situation, you are in fact refusing to get all tied up in the emotion of what you did wrong, what the other person did wrong, or what is wrong with the situation. Things will always go wrong, but how you choose to react to it is all your doing. Let me give you an example.
In one particular job I had, I found myself with the boss from hell. She would go on and on about what she wanted, but then as soon as I took action to get her results, she’d complain that she would have done things differently. Irrespective of the fact that she got her results, she would never agree with my methods. And, if I used the methods she recommended, in a similar situation a few weeks later, she’d tell me that she didn’t agree with those either.
Now, me not being one of those shrinking violet types, I would occasionally (often) allow myself to get really wound up and we’d end up knocking heads (metaphorically). Until, I discovered this little nugget from Jim. After that, I started allowing her words to wash over me as if I was inside of a bubble, so that they couldn’t reach me. I would hear them, but they’d have no effect on me whatsoever. And, after she left, I’d say to myself, “Now, isn’t that interesting? She must be under tremendous pressure. I wonder what an awful mess it must be inside that poor woman’s mind. I’m sure she must drive herself crazy!”
And then, because I hadn’t internalised or applied some self-demoralising meaning to what she’d said, I could simply smile and get on with my day. I felt sorry for her, instead of offended and worked up for myself. And, actually, I think my lack of reaction probably wound her up much more than my getting defensive, or even offensive!
3. Make some time for you
Hahahahahaha! I’m kidding, right?
Actually, no. I’m not. You see, if you’re unhappy at work, then it bleeds into your personal life. It makes you ratty on Sunday evenings, and leads to you staying up late at night, to put off the day ahead, then feeling exhausted and even more irritated about work the next morning. So the key here is to break the cycle, and give yourself a reason to look forward to the day; even when it’s a work day.
So, if you’re wondering how you can look forward to a day in that soul-sucking hell-hole, I’ll tell you. It’s by starting your day with something that’s just for you. Not something that your boss wants you to do. Or your kids. Or anybody else. But something that is purely for you.
So, I’m going to say the one thing that no one likes to hear, and that is get up early. At least an hour earlier than you normally get up, in order to meet your responsibilities, but ideally two. And spend that time doing things that make you happy. If you don’t know what makes you happy anymore, then this is a great time to figure it out.
When I first started getting up early, it was because that same boss that I mentioned in point 2, was giving me a really hard time about being a bit grumpy in the mornings. Which was rather a case of the frying pan calling the kettle, but at the time it hit home sufficiently for me to want to do something about it. So, I started running on my treadmill - a separation gift to myself that had stood unused for months. Because I’m not much of a runner, and I typically find it boring (that’s why I wasn’t using it in the first place), I looked for stuff to listen to, to make it less mind-numbing. Music had never really worked for me, so I looked for motivational speeches on YouTube, and was amazed to find that there were thousands to choose from. I’d typically only run for 20 minutes, and I discovered that, because of what I was listening to, I thoroughly enjoyed it! Plus, the speeches, seminars, and audiobooks I was absorbing, were filling my mind with lots of exciting ideas about what is possible with a change of mind-set and how you can feed your mind, body and soul.
Soon, I was journaling about my feelings, and my ambitions, focusing on gratitude, not just in my work but throughout my life, and coming up with a wealth of ideas that I’d never even dreamed of. I started meditating. I took time to have a long, relaxing shower and a nutritious breakfast every morning. And, by the time I got to work, after 3 amazing hours of wakefulness and self nurturing, I found that I was on top of the world!
And, yes, the first few days were difficult. I was used to staying up until 2am and getting up half an hour before I had to be out of the door. But after 2 weeks of forcing myself to get up, it became easy. I was happy and sleepy by 10pm each night. And, most importantly, I was like a new woman.
So those are my top tips for making a frustrating workplace more palatable. Put them into action in the next 7 days, and tune in next week to get my top tips for escaping the 9-5 and creating a life you love.