I suspect that most of you reading this will spend some of your precious life doing something that fits a description of work. There are many variations and we spend a lot of our time doing it. It’s a big part of our lives.
Because it’s what I do, I know that working for yourself can be great and some of you probably do that too. You are your own boss and so can have a tea break whenever you want one. Imagine that! You can create a successful business that reflects who you are and get the work/life balance that you always wanted. On the flip side, you can feel quite isolated at times and its easy for doubt to creep in when you are exhausted by the complexity of running a business alongside the rest of your life.
Organisational life and working for someone else’s business can be fantastic too. You get to work as part of a team and there’s opportunity for learning and promotion. There’s also paid holiday and a sick pay scheme. What’s not to love? Trouble is, you may have a controlling line manager who uses their positional power to make your life a misery or an unachievable sales target to meet. There’s also the hot-desk policy that means you have to clear someone else’s dirty cups, snotty tissues and crumbs from the desk before you start your day.
Amongst all of these varied versions of work, there are people out there doing stuff that they really love with supportive colleagues who are great to work with. It may not feel perfect all of the time but their heart sings on most days and they are using their skills and knowledge doing something that fits with their values. At the other end of the scale, there are people out there whose work makes them feel miserable each and every day. They hate what they do and struggle with difficult relationships with those they work with or for. They feel depressed and anxious and their self-confidence and self-esteem are slowly being chipped-away.
And there is everything in between. You probably know where you fit.
My point in all of this is that life can pass you by really fast and even faster if your work isn’t a good fit with who you are or what you really want from your life. It can feel like that uncomfortable coat that you were made to wear when you were a kid because it looked smart and your Mum liked it. It was a bit too small and so you couldn’t move easily, it made you bad-tempered and even the bribe of ice-cream wasn’t nearly enough to make up for the shame of the colour.
If your work coat is a bit uncomfortable or badly fitting, I’m not saying that the answer is to simply hand in your notice or close your business down. Most of us don’t feel that we have that sort of choice and the solution to feeling better is unlikely to be that straightforward.
If your work does feel a bit rubbish though, taking time out to reflect on how you feel and why that might be can be a life changing process. I know because I’ve been there in the past. With the right type of support, you can safely explore the issues. You can better understand what is going on, your reactions to people and situations, to identify the changes that are possible and to take action to get the ball rolling. Looking at some of the uncomfortable issues from a different perspective or exploring ways to address some of the difficulties with colleagues can help to shift the feelings and get your mojo back. Finding a coach who has the skills and experience to work with you on this stuff is key.
Reading my blog might have brought back memories of clothes you were made to wear as a child. Sorry about that. You probably can’t beat the horror of some of those worn by someone I knew at junior school. She lives in a nudist colony now.