I recently talked to a couple friends who are not enjoying their jobs.
I know how they feel. I know what it's like to feel "grateful to have any job" during a rough economy. And on the other hand, it sucks to be in a work environment that's rooted in fear and insecurity and chaos.
It sucks to admit you're grateful for a disfunctional job. And yet, making a paycheck is not something to turn your back on. Especially now.
When you're spinning in the problem and unable to find creative solutions it's like being in prison. The fun machine has stopped working; you stop hearing yourself laugh. Your face feels tighter, your teeth clenchier. No fun!
I once had a job at a start-up where no one really knew what we were doing. And I just couldn't get myself outside of my fabulously constructed box-of-stress--even though I knew there was a thriving world outside of myself and this job. Even though we were not saving babies or furthering world peace... but still ... investors.
Recently I've started thinking about the opportunities that exist to everyone on so many levels--levels we don't even begin to tap into. They're simple; they are not saviors, but they are small steps in the right (calming, peaceful, fun-ifying) direction.
Ok, example: you're not happy at work. Boss is a wee bit crazy, insecure, has ass to the fire and so everyone is a big f'd up at work. And now these bad feelings are oozing over into every part of your life. You take said bad feelings home with you, they might as well have their own chair at the dinner table and then they snuggle into bed with you.
How on earth do you find some peace?
Really, let's face it: most of us don't have save-the-world jobs. But it's the emotional fever that gets spread through a group that makes things hell.
Some peacenik questions to get the ball rolling:
Where can you go to create a sliver of inner sanctuary in the course of your day?
How can you remind yourself of a greater more peaceful and wonderful world outside the office park or office politics of your working life?
Can you put a quote or a photograph of kids or a luscious piece of art somewhere in your working space?
How can you remind yourself that this particular uncomfortable space is not the only space available to you?
Is it possible, even in the tiniest way, to have some compassion for the very difficult time your boss is having? If the answer is no, then PRETEND you're someone who does have compassion and imagine how that might feel. Freeing? Liberating? Like someone actually able to laugh during the day?
Let's pretend that one morning, out of your latte machine, a genie appeared and gave you three wishes toward your bestest dreamiest life. What would you ask for? What parts of that dreamiest life could you take action on today? Hint: If its to travel across the world and you can't do that today, could you, say, take a Saturday road trip to the next town over for fun? Think big, and then take actions on a realistic level and go from there.
If you could wave a magic wand and wake up tomorrow freed from the tyrany of the job-anxiety-prison, how might your day go?
Some people I know swim with friends, others go for a run, some meditate or do arts & crafts and others just sit in it and talk about it with anyone who will listen. Sometimes it's a waiting game for the storm to pass.
Sometimes I need comic relief. I had this photo somewhere handy when I needed to imagine coming to work and confronting my colleagues looking like this:
What if you believed you could be happy even in the most hellish Stalin-esque working environment because there is a piece of you that nobody -- I mean nothing -- can touch?
What if it was 75 degrees today in Seattle and everyone ran out of their homes and offices and coffee shops and headed right to the beaches and spent the next week there?
What if? What if?