It was the late 80’s and I was working as an outbound telemarketer who was selling something that (in my opinion) was a complete waste of money to anyone who was foolish enough to actually buy my spiel. I spent hours in a cubicle making redundant phone calls to unsuspecting individuals who were probably in the middle of a nice family meal or worse–Monday Night Football. I actually looked forward to being hung up on (which happened… a lot) because it saved me from having to launch into my pitch about why the service I was selling was so great (it wasn’t) and how much value (none whatsoever) it would add to the purchaser’s life. In short, my job sucked. Unfortunately, at the time, I was a broke college kid and I needed that job to keep me afloat.
I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has ever been trapped in a less than FabYOUlous job–in fact; I would wager that this is a scenario that most of us have experienced at one time or another. Fortunately those days of telemarketing hell are now behind me and I have grown into a profession that I truly love. Even so…there are still times when my work can make me a little crazy. If you can relate, here are a few tips to help keep the crazies at bay while on the job.
Have a Bigger Purpose to Propel You Forward
There is no reason that you can’t have a job that you look forward to everyday, a job that fills your life with meaning and purpose. Even while you are working at your not so FabYOUlous job you can use the vision of this dream job to drive you forward. You can use your current job to sharpen the skills that your dream job will require or make contacts with individuals that can help you when the time comes to launch your dream job. Look for different ways in which your current job can serve as a springboard to your dream job. Most importantly, get a firm vision of your greater purpose and commit that vision to paper. Knowing that you have something bigger & better to work towards can make your current situation more tolerable.
Make Self Care a Priority
Okay, so maybe your job isn’t FabYOUlous. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be FabYOUlous. A job is only one facet of life so even if your job sucks, it doesn’t mean that your entire life has to suck. Make your own self care a priority by making sure that you get enough sleep, enjoy regular exercise, eat right and spend time with family & friends. When you’re not on the job, spend your time on meaningful activities that bring you joy. Explore a new hobby, read a good book, work on goals that will help you to live your more purposeful, FabYOUlous life more quickly. Taking care of yourself outside of your job will help you to better manage your energy and mood while on the job.
E.E. Cummings once said that “the most wasted of days is one without laughter.” Do not let the drudgery of your job rob the laughter from your life. Make it a point to find something every day to laugh at–even if it’s at yourself or the ridiculousness of your situation. One day while I was still employed as a telemarketer, I called a cute guy friend of mine (that I was hoping to turn into more than a friend) to see if he wanted to grab some lunch. Unfortunately, nerves got the best of me and when he answered the phone I automatically launched into my rote, telemarketing sales pitch. It was a force of habit and I felt like a total idiot–but it was funny and we both had a good laugh over it. Laughter is good…even if it is sometimes at your own expense.
Give Yourself a Break
I have a steadfast rule that I abide by no matter how busy I am. For every fifty minutes I do of work, I give myself a ten minute break. It may seem like this would be counter-productive since I’m seemingly “wasting” ten minutes of every hour but the truth is, these mini-breaks throughout my day actually help to increase my productivity. In fact, scientific research backs this phenomenon up by pointing out that small breaks throughout the day help to re-energize us by allowing us time to take a few deep breaths, relax and focus on something more inspiring. This helps to refresh us and sharpen our focus when we get back to our task. Regularly giving yourself a break also helps to prevent the “brain drain” that happens when we spend too much time and energy on a single project. If you’ve ever caught yourself reading the same paragraph over and over and still have no idea what you just read, you’ve experienced this type of mental fatigue. Giving yourself a short break can help to clear the cobwebs and enable you to come back to your task refreshed and ready to focus.
In this day and age there are lots of changes going on in the employment landscape and as we all know–change can be stressful. Rather than fighting inevitable change, we would be better served by learning to become more flexible and ditching our preconceived notions as to how things should be. If we react negatively to change we will be in a constant state of stress. Instead, learn to be flexible by practicing mindfulness and building your tolerance for uncertainty. This ability to “go with the flow” will help you to release anxiety and maintain a sense of peace even in the midst of chaos.
Tame Your Reactions to Toxic People
Sometimes the biggest source of our work stress comes from the people that we have to work with. Whether its a micro-managing supervisor or a condescending coworker; these on-the-job relationships can suck the life out of us if we allow it. DON’T allow it. If you can minimize your exposure to these individuals by closing your office door–great. If that isn’t possible; you’ll have to learn to be more assertive in order to protect your time and sanity. Most importantly, DO NOT let these people discourage your from pursuing your bigger, more FabYOUlous vision for your life. Come up with a plan to help yourself prepare for interactions with these individuals. Try to keep your contact positive and short. Remember–your FabYOUlous life is waiting for you and these people don’t have to be a part of it unless you want them to be. Do your best to manage your relationships with them while you have to while working towards a time when they will no longer be a concern.
Plan Your Exit Strategy
Even if you can’t leave your less-than-FabYOUlous job today; you can still start making plans for the day that you do leave. Work hard so that bosses and coworkers will be happy to recommend you, organize projects so that your replacement will be well prepared to take over your tasks and show gratitude for the skills, contacts and experience that you have a gained as a result of your job.
If all of this advice sounds great but you feel like you are trapped and will never be able to leave your job, you might want to check out the work of Dan Miller, author of the book 48 Days to the Work You Love or read the book, Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job by Jon Acuff. Both of these books provide inspiration and practical advice for anyone who is looking to make the leap into a FabYOUlous professional life. Focus on your FabYOUlous vision for your life, manage your attitude and energy during your working hours and take a small step TODAY to move a bit closer to your FabYOUlous life–you’ll be glad that you did.