So you’re stuck in a job that doesn’t thrill you (or maybe even a job you hate). Going to work at a miserable job is just drudgery, isn’t it?
If your job no longer fills you with a sense of growth and purpose, then you probably aren’t fulfilled or happy. Chances are, you probably dread going to work.
Our work can’t be the only thing that gives us a sense of purpose and fulfillment, but all of us need to find some purpose from the work we do. Even if you work in a restaurant or on a factory line, having pride in the results of your work—and knowing you’re bringing people something they need—can provide a strong sense of fulfillment.
I’ve known blue-collar guys who worked on the line at GM and found immense satisfaction in that. They worked hard and took pride in the results of their work. They paid attention to the details. They viewed the job with a sense of how it was helping the greater good. They also didn’t rest on their laurels, sit back and say, “Well, I’m just going to build this same thing every day and go home.” Those who were the most fulfilled came in every day ready to do a better job. They were constantly trying to up their achievement and growth.
When I started in counseling years ago, I helped golf pros improve their game. Golf is a very psychologically fueled game—it’s a game where you’re actually playing against yourself. Even when golfers are in these big tournaments, they’re playing to beat their own score.
Golf is so psychologically driven, in fact, there’s even a condition called the yips. Golfers become anxious, then, due to holding their club and the tension in their body, they start to shake. Their entire career can be ruined by this condition and it’s a very real issue. Similarly, the pros that get the hole-in-one, the course record, and even the green jacket often say afterwards that they KNEW they were going to win, even before they began the game. They envisioned the entire process. They were in their groove.
If you’re in your own groove at work, raising your aspirations and expectations constantly, you will be successful. If you’ve reached a point where you can no longer grow, it’s probably time to liberate yourself and move on to the next opportunity.
We’ve all had a great offer come along—an offer we can’t refuse.
What do you do? Well, weigh the merits of the new role. Will you be doing the same thing you’re doing now, just with more pay? Rather than making it all about the money, you have to look at the opportunity and the purpose.
When we’re driven by purpose, money is just the icing on the cake. When we’re driven only by a bigger paycheck, we might never feel fulfilled in our work. I’ve talked to CEOs and presidents who reported they simply felt hollow despite their success. Why? Because they were all about the money—and not about the purpose behind their work.
So if a better offer comes along, weigh it against what you’re doing now. What need will it fulfill within you? We all have deeper needs and desires called yearnings. We might yearn for acknowledgement, achievement, or security. While a raise can provide some of these things, deep human yearnings cannot be fulfilled by money alone.
A client I worked with, Ellis, discovered that working with a sense of purpose is more powerful than money:
When you have purpose, the money will follow. Don’t be swayed by a “better offer” if it’s not a more purposeful offer.
Many of us get a chip on our shoulder at work. We start putting ourselves on the “pitty potty” with what I call Stinkin’ Thinkin’. We shift the blame from our own inadequacies and under-performance to understand our own mistakes as everyone else’s fault.
As it turns out, YOU are responsible for your own happiness. Not your wife. Not your husband. Not your kids. Not your employer or coworkers. YOU.
If you’re miserable in your job and you dread going in every day, you need to look at it just like you would a relationship. What got you to this point? Why did you pick a job that lead you to this place of being so unfulfilled? What missteps did you take on your journey?
If your answers start out with something like, “Well, it’s these coworkers of mine, you see, they’re just awful…” or, “Look, my boss is a jerk,” then you still need to step back and reassess. Why did you let it go so long? How did you fail to set up appropriate boundaries?
Now, I get it. Some bosses are jerks. Some people get off on power trips and like to torture their employees. In the business world, we still have problems with bullying just like in elementary school.
But if a boss, manager, or coworker is truly abusive, then why are you putting up with it? Most bullies, just like in the movies, back off the moment they’re called out.
Level with your boss. Let them know you want to improve your performance and you want to be successful. Ask them how you can get there before it’s too late or before things have unraveled too far. Get on the same page and have them explain their vision to you. How do they want the company to run? What does a successful department look like to them and how can you help them get there?
If all else fails, then resign—but don’t leave and fall into the same trap as before. Leave and learn from the experience. What can you do differently next time to set yourself up for success?
If it’s time to leave a job and you’ve found an opportunity that presents more possibilities for your own personal growth, developing your greater purpose, and achieving more fulfillment, great!
Just don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Don’t burn the bridge you might have to cross again. Cities are like big small towns, so if you plan to stay in the same industry or if you might run into crossover client, leave on good terms. Don’t run around spouting off to everyone about what an egomaniac or jerk your former employer was.
Keep connections strong with coworkers, particularly those who have shared your vision and who are supportive allies. Stay in touch and build on those connections outside of the work environment.
If it’s time to leave a job, leave things in the best condition you can. Don’t use your resignation and as opportunity to give your employer a laundry list of grievances. If there’s something concrete that needs to change, share it with your boss to help ensure the role is more successful in the future for the next person who takes it on.
Do your own mental evaluation and work through your own “stuff” before you carry it to the next job. Let your employer work through the company’s baggage themselves. If the company is good, and vision and mission-driven, and was just a bad fit for you, they’ll move on and be fine. If the company is truly terrible, chances are they’ll fold eventually anyway.
Leaving a job can be done on good terms and lead to better things for you and your future. Keep your goals growth-oriented and focused on the big picture. Evaluate what YOU need to do to improve your game and continue to work on bettering yourself.
Want to learn more about freeing yourself and finding your purpose? Learn how you can up your game at the Wright Foundation.
Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.
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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.