Why you can't keep hating your job
I’ll never forget the cold morning when my kids were young. I got them both in the car before the sun was up, breakfast and lunch packed, ready to drop them off so I could get to my early morning shift. About 15 minutes into the ride, my 5 year old asked where we were going. I was so startled I jumped.
I was going to work.
They should have been dropped off at the daycare that was 5 minutes from my house.
I know I’m not alone in this experience of driving somewhere on autopilot, going through the motions without really thinking about it at all. And in this example, it just made for a somewhat rushed morning, no lasting damage.
But what happens when we get to the point that the best we can do at work is go through the motions? I mean, a lot of the tasks we do have been done 1000x before and we are so tired, overwhelmed, or disengaged that we do what we need to do and we go home. Admittedly this isn’t the life we may have dreamed about but is it really a big deal if we just do what we have to do to get through the day and get out of there?
I think it is and I’ll tell you why.
Work is a big part of your life, whether you work part time or full time, it takes a lot of your mental energy and your time. Because of this, like it or not, it has an impact on the rest of your life. Even if you try to compartmentalize and leave work at work, your body hasn’t gotten the memo. The stress response doesn’t magically leave when you swipe out.
It’s funny because we know it doesn’t work that way when it goes in the opposite direction, when people try to keep their personal lives and stressors out of their work. We all have seen our coworkers bring personal issues to work, maybe we even see it in ourselves. It is hard when something traumatic is going on in your life to not have it bleed into the rest of the day. Maybe it’s harder to concentrate, maybe you don’t have it in you to stay cheerful, maybe you don’t have energy to help other members of the team, maybe you just feel heavy as you go through the actions.
Why wouldn’t the converse be true? If we can’t always separate our personal stressors from our work day, why would we think we can keep our work stress out of our home lives?
So what does it look like when the stress of work continues past the 7a-7p?
What are the effects of overwhelm, disengagement or despair at work? Why does it even matter?
Here are some of the most common effects, see if you can relate to any.
Sleep disturbance due to anxiety, worry, or increased cortisol levels due to stress.
Lack of engagement in activities outside of work.
Eating for comfort and not for health
Binging on mindless activities like social media, netflix, online shopping, food or drink
No energy to exercise
Ruminating about what did or didn’t happen at work
Inability to experience joy in other things
Snapping at your children or loved ones
Lack of motivation to follow through on other goals
Guilt for experiencing any of the issues above
Now do you see why it’s a problem? All of these things can result from living on autopilot, from dissatisfaction at work, from stress in the place where you spend so much of your time.
This is why we HAVE TO TREAT IT! We have to spend some time actively improving our work experience.
It isn’t a luxury.
It isn’t impossible.
It isn’t a minor inconvenience that you can just keep pushing through.
Your health and wellness rely on it. It’s like trying to lose weight but not addressing the underlying diabetes. You can’t just treat the symptoms because the underlying condition will keep wreaking havoc. We won’t have the internal resources we need to do all the other amazing things in our lives if we use them all up trying to “get through” the day.
I know I don’t have to convince you. Most of us can see the signs in ourselves. This isn’t what you wanted but you feel powerless to change it.
This is because we believe the situation needs to change for us to feel differently.
But this simply isn’t science.
All we need to do to feel better, decrease the stress response, and improve our lives all around is to develop some new neural pathways. We need to short circuit and reroute the stress and trauma response. This may take some work, but it doesn’t require any change in the actual work situation for your life to change.
It can change now.
Let’s DIY ourselves some new, restorative neural pathways.
Realizing the importance of this issue IS the first step. Realizing that how you feel at work is just as important to address as any chronic medical issue is the key to getting started. The second step is to start asking yourself, “What if it’s possible to start feeling better at work, without the work changing?” Try asking just that question, every morning, and watch your brain explode with possibility.
We learn new things by intention, exploration, and repetition.
What is the cost of not doing this work?
Are you willing to pay that?
Overwhelmed with the thought of trying to do this alone? You don't have to, let's talk about how I can help. Click here.