Changing Your Job May Not Be The Answer
by Jacquie Wise
In the heat of new year resolutions, we’re determined to get rid of aspects of life that no longer fit and we’re eager to embrace the new. That energy may make us want to leave a stressful job. But is leaving really a solution?
There is no doubt that if you’ve been in a truly toxic environment that’s making you ill mentally, emotionally and physically, and you’re burnt out, you need to leave.
But sometimes it’s stress that’s getting us down—the stress of dealing with difficult people, or pressured deadlines.
Or maybe it’s the pressure to perform beyond what you believe are your capabilities.
There are stressful challenges in every job. If you avoid dealing with them in this job, what makes you so sure you’ll be able to avoid them in another?
If, on the other hand, you learn to deal with your difficulties, they’ll no longer be a problem for you.
Don’t forget that challenges force us to grow
If we avoid facing up to challenges, they just keep repeating themselves until we grow stronger. Have you noticed how you keep encountering similar snobs or bullies wherever you go? Or you get overwhelmed with time pressures, no matter what the situation?
‘But I have no time to work on solutions!’ I hear you shriek. Understood.
Combine activities. If you’re looking for a book or course on time management, find one on assertiveness and another on public speaking at the same time.
If you’re going to ask around for advice, prepare a list of different questions and examples so that you can make the most of mentoring or coaching conversations.
A book can be read and points highlighted five minutes at a time. I’ve done it—you can do it too.
If you needed to have an urgent dental appointment, you would find the time.
Similarly, make small appointments with yourself for urgent work on solutions, even if it’s only a few minutes at a time.
The long-lasting solution: Make the most of the opportunity before you leave it.
Step 1: Break down your stressors into categories: people, mess, deadlines, overwhelm…whatever.
Step 2: Then break them down some more.
People can be broken down into impossible boss, mean colleague, or demanding client.
Mess can be broken down into unworkable filing system, or computer chaos.
If you keep losing documents, it’s a sure sign that the mess is caused by your own disorganisation.
No need to beat yourself up, you can only do what you know how to do. Accept that this is where you are for now, and find out how to do better.
Step 3: Find out how to deal with problems. Read books, attend short courses, get a mentor, invest in a coach, ask a friend.
Apply each technique you find, one at a time.
If lack of time is the challenge, you might find you can save time, one minute at a time, with improved approaches to your work. At least you’ll identify where you’re wasting time.
Learn how to make accurate time estimates by observing how long it takes you to do typical tasks. Including how long it takes you to find lost items.
Learn to use a diary or other planning and project management tools. Your phone is not good enough for detailed planning because you can’t see a longer time projection and the small screen doesn’t provide enough space for the detail you need.
If your job is bigger than one person can handle, learn to say ‘No’.
The way to say ‘No’ is to show your manager a list of outstanding tasks, with an accurate time estimate for each one, and ask which ones they want you to drop, to allow you time to take on the new task.
Managers are often unaware of the burden they are placing on staff and might be willing to redistribute work or get you some help.
If you’re in your own business, it can be tough, but sometimes you have to refuse a new client, even if it means a loss of income. It hurts, I know.
It’s not worth the risk of letting down all your other clients by being overcommitted.
If it’s fear holding you back: deal with it.
Whether it’s panic at the thought of public speaking, trepidation about that complicated report you need to write, anxiety about that conversation you need to have…any fear can be broken down into baby steps so it doesn’t get overwhelming.
You’ll gain confidence only if you’re prepared to do the thing you’re afraid of. Just do it one small step at a time.
Be prepared to make mistakes. You will get better at it. You will. Until one morning you wake up and you’re not afraid of it any more.
Step 4: Cover your back
Confirm every discussion in writing. Send a copy to someone relevant higher up. Ensure you have a witness to a difficult interaction. Document dates of when you met someone and what was said, even if it’s only in your diary.
If you’re keeping a documented trail at work, don’t. Do it at home.
Step 5: Escalate the situation
If you have evidence, you can escalate the situation to higher management, to human resources, equal opportunity, a union—whatever is most accessible and most relevant.
This is where mentors come in handy. They can advise and, sometimes, even influence.
Step 6: Only then are you ready to leave
If you’ve left an impossible situation, you will have the evidence to show that you handled it appropriately when you go to interview. Impressive!
If you encounter similar situations in your new job, you’ll be able to knock them over with confidence, and with a lot more success.
If you have questions regarding work challenges, please send them in or invest in some tax-deductible coaching with me. Contact me directly to arrange a convenient appointment time.
I’d love to know what you think of what I’ve said here. You can give me your feedback, ask a question by email or post a comment below.
If you or someone you know would like a personal consultation, please call +61 3 9690 8159.
Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.
Reproducing and Sharing
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