Many people I talk to are not happy with their jobs. I hear it a lot—people feel like they work too much, feel like their coworkers have it easier, that they’re just not happy. While there is certainly such a thing as a toxic work environment (I’ve both seen a few from the outside, and worked within one or two as well) many of the challenges we feel work presents are really reflections of our view on the world. Or put more simply: we are often disempowered by our mindset. Here are two frequent areas of concern to focus on as we head towards the middle of 2014:
Time: Let’s turn first to a frequent topic of conversation: “work/life balance.” Most of the time when people have a gripe about time they say things like “my work/life balance is way off” or “I don’t have enough time for me.” Personally, I have struggled with this before when I didn’t feel that my time was being well-used, or when successive waves of time consuming projects crash against my social calendar.
These days I try and stay connected to my core feeling on work-life balance: there is no such thing. This is a mindset game, and you have to look at the leverage rather than the time. You WILL spend most of your life at work. Does the job you’re doing today (or really any job) give you enough for you to have the life outside of work that is manageable and livable? If the answer yes, then you ask: will this take me places that I want to go professionally, personally, and financially? There are always plenty of opportunities in this world… are you willing to do the work to get there?
Team: In relation to my first point: time, I often hear people complain that they work harder, are more capable, or more dedicated then those they share a work family with. Now, I’m sure it can be really difficult to keep a positive mindset and to stay dedicated to your work when those around you are goofing off and not putting in the same level of effort you are. Nobody likes to feel like they are the only one really trying on a team… we’re a TEAM, right?!
When it comes to your peers, I think it is important to remember that they are, generally, not your responsibility relative to productivity. That said, I would never advocate that one should let illegal, immoral, or disreputable activity continue in an organization, particularly one that is driven by specific values that all employees are asked to live towards. However, I have found that we often lack context and insight into what each person’s responsibilities are, and what their job requires. More often than not, our personal perspective outweighs our ability to be objective, and this can easily lead to feeling as though you are working harder than others… they probably feel exactly the same about you!
So, what do you do? Get connected to what you can control. Do the best you can on your core responsibilities and learn to let go of the other. It should be most important to you that you feel like you gave it your all today, not what you did relative to those around you. If you have bigger concerns about the health and success of your team, you should engage your leadership team, manager, or even the person in question, directly. Whatever you do, don’t linger on the other when all you can truly control is yourself.
What’s next? Take action!
1. First, identify and write down three negative, disempowering mindsets you know are hurting you, but you haven’t been able to shed.
2. Then, develop a counter mindset for each, being as specific as possible in defining things within your control, and write it down.
3. Compare these mindsets, getting comfortable with having a fresh perspective on things that have been challenging for you.
4. Scratch out the old mindsets and commit to living the new ones.
5. Finally, pin them up at your desk, make them a daily topic of your journaling, or find another meaningful way to incorporate them into your everyday life.
From personal experience, getting your head on straight is one of the most healthful and helpful things you can do for your career and your personal life. The world as you perceive it is sometimes just that: change your perspective, change your life!
Alec Kisiel, Consultant, helps entreQuest’s clients to grow and develop so they are able to recognize their full potential to effectively achieve remarkable results for their organizations and make a meaningful impact in their communities..