When we don’t like our jobs, sometimes we do really ridiculous things as a result. To name but a few, we avoid, we complain, we worry, we disconnect and we overcompensate.
I have found (from personal experience) that several behaviour patterns emerge and they are usually split according to the stages of our job dislike.
Stage one: Denial. Stage two: Acceptance.
The Denial Stage
This stage usually occurs when the shift is made from the usual new-job excitement to the setting in of the truth that the job isn’t all what we thought it would be. It is mostly characterized by behaviours that we sometimes aren’t even aware we are exhibiting.
We do things like...
Live for the weekends
The weeks become a continuous countdown- from the Sunday night dread to the Wednesday ‘hump-day’, to that Friday ‘feeling’.
The weekend passes by in a flash and then the timer resets and we find another Monday morning commute upon us.
The bigger countdowns come a month before our next trip, and let’s be honest- the Christmas countdown already starts come September. We live our lives according to a set number of days which we want to pass, peacefully and as quickly as possible- not too dissimilar to how a prisoner scratches off the days on the wall of his cell.
We tell ourselves our careers aren’t that important to us
Instead of admitting to ourselves that we don’t like our jobs, it is way easier (and of course more ridiculous) to convince ourselves that our careers aren’t the most important parts of our lives. After all, what about all those hours spent outside of work where we get to be our ‘true’ selves. This is a phase I went through several months into starting my training contract at a law firm. Growing up, I was always the go-getter, ambitious type and I remember trying so hard to believe the mantra ‘It’s only a job, it’s not that important’. I thought that if I told myself this enough, I would eventually let go of the old career-minded me and then surely I wouldn’t care so much that I didn’t like what I did.
This behaviour often leads to...
Pursuing our “passions” outside of work
How many times have you heard from a relative, usually older and ‘wiser’, that we aren’t supposed to like our jobs. This advice is usually preceded by ‘In my day..”, at which point I advise to switch off from the conversation.
A popular school of thought for those who have never found the right career path but stuck it out anyway is that we should be grateful that our jobs provide us with the money to enjoy our spare time- and therefore that is what we try to do!
We start to plan our spare time more meticulously. We get a hobby, join the gym, attend a book-club, start knitting, arrange more trips, decorate our houses, start a blog. etc. etc.
I am a big believer in creating a life we love outside of the workplace, and it is particularly important when our jobs are challenging for us. It is a great short-term solution, but by no means is it going to solve your immediate problem and it is never an excuse to stay in a job you hate. It is a good buffer, and often a fabulous distraction, but it is no substitute for a career that feels right.
Our performance at work declines
When the above behaviours happen, and we shift focus to our personal lives and diminish the meaning of the importance our jobs, we start to care less about our current role.
This sets off behaviours such as daydreaming, procrastinating and almost certainly affects our productivity at work.
This has a knock-on effect on our performance, and although we may ‘care less’ about our job, we still don’t want to be seen as bad employees. I used to get stuck in this pattern of trying not to care, feeling like my work standard was slipping, and then working harder as a result to compensate. The result for an overachiever: personal chaos.
And finally, one day, we stop avoiding the reality that we are in a job that isn't serving us and we start to accept it. Which opens up a door to a whole new host of ridiculous behaviours.
In the next post I outline what happens once we accept that we don’t like our jobs, and the crazy things we do on this realization, including the dreaded dinner party confrontation.
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