The end of summer is basically like a dramatic Sunday night. If you are satisfied with your life you can enjoy every moment, but if not, you could find yourself desperately wishing for a time extension machine to keep “real life” at bay. Ten years ago I used to wish for a lottery windfall so that I could live at the cottage, spoil everyone I love, and dedicate my life to something worthy instead of going to a job that didn’t thrill me. Also, back then unbeknownst to me, I was becoming a jerk.
Here’s a pattern I’ve noticed: People who feel stuck and are not experiencing growth are much more likely to be self-centred and judgemental. Maybe not you, but let me deconstruct what happened to me. I’m going to focus on the work part and save the other elements for another story (yes, I am more of a delight in my current relationship than I was to my ex-husband).
Long Slow Road to Burnout
I will try not to bore you with the details. I spent over 10 years doing digital media, digital content, digital strategy, digital marketing, social media… I did all of those things and in all of the configurations; as a consultant, agency, and media companies. Towards the end I was bored, tired, and uninspired. Job hunting just felt like browsing for the same problems at a different place. I was optimistic that something perfect would come along at some point but I didn’t know when or what that would look like.
Feel Good Ending… but not the point
Now I am doing something that is a perfect for me, but it did not just come along. Change was instigated through a circumstantial shift (yay, layoff packages), and from there I slowly improvised, pivoted many times, and eventually started getting it right. The good news is that since I took the long and arduous path, I can share some insights so that you don’t have to get to the point of becoming a jerk to incite change in your life.
So how did being unsatisfied at work make me a jerk? (See more below)
Feeling Stuck or Too Busy for Change?
This is why you will get value from a free consult:
- It will give you a moment to get out of your own head and look at your situation more objectively
- We will explore what you want to change
- I will show you the root of the problem
- I will give you the outline of how to make the changes you want
- From a place of knowlege and possibility you can determine the value of coaching at this point in your life
- If you decide coaching would be of value right now, you will be able to assess whether you think you and I are a good fit (and if we aren’t I can refer you to some great people)
- It’s a relaxed conversation
“The Problem is My Boss”
I found all of the faults in my bosses, and blamed much of my frustration on them, as well as the company. Since I didn’t favour their leadership style and I found some of the tasks and processes ridiculous for what I believed we should be building, I did my best to navigate the job on my terms. I decided to not even really consider them a “boss” in any way. Furthermore I blamed them for my frustration, lack of inspiration, and often for my bad mood as well.
Hard Truth: I was acting like a hard done by helpless victim when I’m the only one responsible for my own inspiration, my actions, and my moods. I never would have identified with the “victim” label because I was often furious and felt like I was in warrior mode, but by putting the responsibility in the hands of my boss and the company, I was putting myself in the position of a victim when things did not go the way I wanted them to. I didn’t consider creative options other than “resist” and “escape”.
The Work Five
I love the saying “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. When I apply this to my work posse back then, it’s clear that I was the average of a group of frustrated complainers (really smart and funny people, but at the time we weren’t at our best).
Hard truth: We focused on the “bad” in whatever did not suit us and reinforced each other’s beliefs that the problem was the company and the people there. We neglected to honestly evaluate ourselves, sticking to superficial defence of our actions if called out. I was happy to reject the status quo but I was not focusing on what I could replace it with, instead focusing on how messed up I thought everything was.
Team Identity Issues:
Media companies seem to have a lot of regime changes and at the end I found myself in a branch of the company that did not feel like a fit, and on a team where I was surrounded by people who were not my people. I didn’t want to be associated with them, or be considered one of them. I looked down on them for their compliance and adherence to the system and I spent a lot of time trying to demonstrate that I was “the other”.
Hard truth: I was being a judgemental jerk because I felt that who I wanted to be, and could be, was completely misaligned with who I was expected to be at work. That situation was only created out of my own actions (or lack of) and it was unfair to my team and my boss. I had the option to leave if I thought that I could be better and do better if my values were more aligned with my job. I was in no way superior to these people even if they weren’t going to be on my dinner party list, but because I was not thrilled with myself, I looked for ways to feel superior.
“I’m Too Tired and Busy to Change Things”:
It’s exhausting feeling stuck and helpless while trying to maintain a self image that does not line up with your life. It’s exhausting to see problems instead of possibilities. When you don’t see possibilities your options seem limited to survival or mindless escape. I watched too much TV, and my social life had too much drinking.
Hard truth: I wasn’t thrilled with myself and that shame made me defensive and less empathetic. I was tired and grumpy and I made way less time to focus on other people or creating real change because I was caught up in my own shit, and caught up escaping my own shit.
I’m nicer now. I try to take responsibility for everything in my life, I have alignment between who I want to be and how I live my life, and the confidence this brings allows me to focus much more on others. Since I’m not busy comparing myself to others I can easily find what’s interesting about them and I’ve had so many deeper connections, sometimes with the least expected people. I like the certainty with which I can say that I will never feel stuck again. And it’s not because I have a different career in a new industry, because I’m more disciplined, or because I think my life will not be constant puppies and rainbows, but I when things go off script I will not feel powerless or get tied up by my thoughts. I’m so excited about all of this that I have literally created a business that is dedicated to teaching people the tools to create the life they want, regardless of their current circumstances. I want people to know that they aren’t as stuck as they might think!
If you’re wondering if you might be heading down the jerk path, or if you’re feeling defensive (examples: you know that in your case it is the boss or the company that is the problem, or you’re too tired) I recommend you begin with two daily steps:
Step 1: Get out of your own head and make an extra effort to do something for someone else every single day (not because you expect anything in return).
Step 2: Every time you catch yourself judging someone or something negatively, ask yourself what that says about you. And write it down.
Trust me, it will be interesting.
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