It doesn’t really matter what phase of your career you are in. There are any number of reasons you can feel like things aren't quite bad enough to make a change. But you’re tired of dreading work. There’s an annoying discomfort setting in.
What should you do? Short of taking a bigger step than you're ready for, here are some approaches that can bring you some relief.
1. Make sure other areas of your life are fulfilling.
Build satisfaction in areas of your life such as family and relationships, social life, physical activity, sports, hobbies, art, spirituality, community, etc. This creates a cushion. If things aren’t going great at work, at least that is not your total focus in life. Then you don’t have to overfocus on what’s not going great.
2. No more excuses.
Do you find yourself saying, "If only he/she/they/the company would only [fill in the blank]”? If so, you should determine what you're going to do if he/she/they/the company doesn't [fill in the blank].
You might find yourself thinking, for example, “They should provide me with more challenging opportunities” or “If only they would take away the threat of downsizing for a while.”
Suspend your assumptions (and perhaps resentment) for a moment. It could be that the emotional “contract” you had with your employer has changed over the years.
Your expectations may be legitimate. Perhaps your organization or leaders should do whatever it is you want them to do.
Unfortunately that only keeps you in a place of paralysis. You are waiting for someone else to do something different. It's time for you to try something different. Unpack your complaint. What's one thing you can do for yourself?
3. Employ the Gandhi method.
At some point, we all have probably been on the receiving end of this management tactic: We raise an issue only to get the task assigned to us. But then, what's so bad about that?
If you're unhappy at work, go ahead and assign yourself the task of making something better, employing what I call the “Gandhi method.”
Be the change you want to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi
Say you're unhappy with the current lack of focus on career development. There always seems to be a lack of money for training or time to discuss career development. Your boss never seems to have time to give you straight performance feedback. And, and, and…
Be the change...
Take 10 minutes and ask yourself:
- If you were your boss, what would you do about this issue that will make a difference, even a small one? Can YOU do that in some way?
- Do YOU deal with those around you in a developmental fashion? Either way, yes or no, can you enhance that?
- If you are a manager, do those reporting to you feel challenged? Ask them what you could do further to help them have a more developmental experience.
How do your answers inspire you toward new action? This can have a powerful and positive impact on how you do your job and how you view your organization and your leaders.
Nothing’s working. What else?
If you find that no amount of tweaking seems to be working, know that this is normal. The culture of the organization may be too heavy to budge. You might have outgrown your current situation and are ready for a new challenge.
And, fortunately or unfortunately, you are not alone. Find someone who seems to be doing well. Do not look for someone to commiserate with. Find someone who has been through what you are going through and ask for advice. Others have gotten to the other side of this and so can you.
This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?