Five (underlying) reasons you hate your job

The more time you clock up as an employee, the more prone you will be to utter the inevitable statement: “I hate my job.” In fact, 85% of the global workforce “hate their jobs.” This means that only 15% of employees actually feel a sense of purpose, work satisfaction and joy when they work.

The average person will spend 90 000 hours at work. Essentially, a third of our lives is devoted to work. So why are we choosing to be so miserable for such a massive portion of our lives?

What is the gap between rewarding work or frustrating work? Or the gap between I hate my job to I love my job?

The root of this issue, I believe, is that we were never taught the difference between getting a job and finding your life’s work. Think about all the messages you received about work growing up. Work was always something awaiting you at the end of a pathway – post high school or graduation, you would enter into the working world and everything would fall into place.

Right?

Except it doesn’t. And young people are lambasted for battling with this disconnect instead of receiving support on how to navigate this crucial life path.

The focus during this stage of life is finding a career path that will make us money. And that is an important motivation as it is the path to creating freedom from the family unit and becoming an active citizen. The problem is that we think getting a job or entering a career is all there is – when our hearts are yearning for something more.

We make decisions about what we do based on what we think we should be doing, what we’ve been told we should do, rather than discovering what will really make us come alive.

Doing prescribed tasks in an organisation doesn’t tell you who you are, neither does it give your life meaning. The paycheck at the end of the month is nice but you probably were also never trained on how to manage your money and this eventually increases your frustration.

So when we say “I hate my job”, what we are really pointing to is a sense of dissatisfaction about how we’re currently engaging with work. In my work with young professionals, I’ve identified some key underlying issues that are driving workplace frustration.

1. You have a fuzzy life purpose.

There is a massive difference between a job description and knowing what your life’s work is. People who have a clear sense of life purpose are those who are able to seek out opportunities that they know will play to their strengths and they therefore have a greater sense of meaning and fulfillment when it comes to their current job.

Think about the professionals you admire and aspire to be like. Do you think they go into the office everyday with knots of dread in their stomach or are they operating from a sense of purpose where they do they work that makes them come alive?

Not everyone has a clear sense of purpose at a young age but there are definitely golden threads that surface over time that can be weaved into personal meaning.

Working at various jobs and organisations can provide clues about what your life purpose or meaningful work will look like. Your twenties are a time of great self-discovery. There will be tasks that you do that you will love and find easy to handle and other tasks that will leave you feeling stuck and frustrated. The journey to finding your sweet spot is not linear.

How do I understand my life purpose? There are a few steps involved in this process and you will likely require some facilitation and assistance to define a purpose that really resonates with you. (Contact Whole Person Academy if you would like a one on one coaching session).

  • Reflection and journalling: Use the above diagram help you identify areas of strength, ability and passion. Improve your self-awareness by taking time out for personal reflection and journalling. You don’t have to be a writer for this to be an effective personal growth tool for you. Create a file on your Google Drive and record insights from experiences as they happen. This will grow into an active record of what you tend to lean into and what makes you want to run a mile!
  • Identify blind spots: Speak to trusted friends, family members and colleagues who will reflect areas of strength and challenge that they notice in your life.
  • Take time to dream: Create a work life roadmap to your sweet spot. Remember to overcome the temptation to expect a massive life purpose to manifest in two years. We can only really measure the true impact of our lives at the end of it.
  • Give yourself permission: This is something that so many young professionals struggle with. Many of them have chosen careers because that’s what their parents wanted them to do or they were looking for the most lucrative career path. A few years into their working life, they find themselves struggling with the anxiety of making this choice and feel powerless to make a new choice.

You only have one life. You can’t live it for anyone else but yourself. You might not be able to do your dream job at 25 but don’t underestimate what can eventually unfold over time.

  • Commit to the long-haul: I’ve had 15 job titles and three careers to date – and I am finally in my sweet spot as I build a business to help young people and women to live from a place of wholeness in the areas of relationships, career and finances.

It took me 21 years to get here. During that time, my own life and work experiences have shaped and refined my passions. When I look back at old journals, even my naïve teenage self had an inkling at what my life’s work was linked to.

Also, every single job I had equipped me with skills I use to this very day. So never despise your current job and pay attention to the lessons it is teaching you. Your future self will thank you.

2. You have a fixed mindset.

If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that your talent and intelligence is established at birth, therefore there is no point trying to learn anything new or stretch yourself. You tend to get annoyed at colleagues who seem to have it easy and are getting ahead while you feel stuck in your job role.

Another form of a fixed mindset is a victim mindset. People who have this defeatist, default way of thinking have generally faced difficult situations in their lives which has caused them to feel powerless. Take that mindset into the workplace and it manifests as someone who is unable to take responsibility for their actions and gets stuck in blaming others instead of finding creative solutions to problems.

If you have an external locus of control, then you are more likely to blame outside forces like your boss, politics or your mother for the state of your life. Granted, no work environment is perfect but people with a growth mindset are able to face adversity and take personal responsibility for their lives.

 

How do I develop a growth mindset? This can be tricky and in my experience, the earlier you start, the better! Patterns of thought and behaviour become more established the older we get.

  • Start small: Identify one limiting pattern (eg: not speaking up for yourself in meetings). Seek support from someone you trust to help you identify the core belief (eg: no one listens to me anyway) and then develop a positive alternate to challenge your negative belief (eg: My voice is as valid as anyone else in the room).
  • Take action: Now you have to practice this until it becomes your new default. Most of us are afraid of failure because we falsely believe that we are failures if we fail. Not true. Every successful person has only been able to progress because of repeated failure.
  • Repeat: Once you are able to exercise your growth muscle in one area of your life, keep applying this process to other areas of your life (like fitness, finances, etc). You will surprise yourself with what you’re truly capable of.

3. You are frustrated with your current salary.

This is one of the major, seemingly overt causes of work frustration and yet, if you dig a little deeper, there is a Pandora’s box of personal issues that one could too easily file under the complaint of: “I need more money.”

I once worked with someone who was always talking about his low salary scale and gave everyone constant updates about his battle with management and HR to increase his pay grade.

 

While some of his concerns may have been legitimate, he spent most of his energy focused on what he should be getting paid instead of contributing positively to the team and proving himself to be an asset.

In a different organisation, I came across this Zig Ziglar quote and had a printout of it on my office wall. A colleague noticed the post and scoffed at it saying that you shouldn’t be oppressed by an organisation (he held strong political views). Unfortunately, his work ethic didn’t match up to his politics and he is yet to find secure formal employment.

I was eventually able to earn a higher salary by doing more than I was paid to do – not at that organisation but I received a massive increase in the next role I took on. Developing an owner mindset (what would I do today if this was my business) helped me to work hard not to impress my boss but to grow my skill set and expand the limits of my potential.

Accept the fact that you may not receive the promotion you’re looking for at your current organisation. Develop your own professional pathway (see point 1), commit to becoming an excellent worker(regardless of what your boss does or doesn’t do).

You will attract the right opportunities to you because you’re not waiting for the organisation to heap rewards on you for just showing up every day. In this new work reality, with rising retrenchments and declining work stability, employees can no longer rely on their salary as their sole source of income.

We have to learn to manage what we have and develop multiple streams of income to not just survive, but thrive in the future.

How do I manage my current salary?

  • Stay out of debt! Everyday I wish I could go back and arrest my 20-year-old self from making all the financial blunders that got me into a massive financial hole in my 30s. There will be immense pressure to cave into the normal debt-ridden lifestyle once you start working.

Buying clothes on credit that you will just end up giving away one day or buying a car to impress people who don’t like is downright foolish – in hindsight. We tend to want to make our own mistakes when we’re younger, but we enslave ourselves to places and people because we’ve signed up for a lifestyle we can’t afford. Watch the video about how to stay debt free in your 20s.

  • Establish healthy financial patterns: Again, something to start earlier rather than later. Get on a budget (or call it a spending plan if that makes it easier) and track your monthly expenses. It will surprise you when you see what you’re really spending on and what it is really costing your future.
  • Start a side hustle: Reading 10% Entrepreneur by Patrick James McGinnis was a gamer changer. People who develop side hustles while holding on full time jobs are more effective in their current roles and are able to develop entrepreneurial skill sets (which is a key 4IR skill by the way). Richard Branson agrees. It also helps you test out the viability of your creative money generation ideas and while providing an outlet for additional abilities your current role may not require.

4. You’re in a toxic work environment.

I wish this was something we could avoid but sadly, you are bound to experience a toxic work environment at some point in your life. The key when assessing whether your workplace is truly toxic is to firstly ask yourself the following questions: 1) What are my expectations of the workplace? 2) Am I being fair and unbiased in my assessment of the behaviour of my boss or colleagues? 3) Am I contributing to the toxicity of the office?

There are a number of poisons that contribute to a toxic work environment, the culmination of which makes you feel like you cannot progress no matter what you do and that you are stuck in maddening cycles of bad communication and bullying. There is a plethora of online articles that will help you identify a toxic work environment. Here are some key indicators:

  • There is constantly shifting work expectations
  • Low accountability among leaders
  • Bullying is overlooked and even encouraged
  • Colleagues gossip and look for ways to undermine team members
  • Low morale and team work
  • Lack of work life balance
  • Blame shifting
  • Poor communication

How do I deal with a toxic environment? The best way to deal with this (once you recognize that you are in it) is to have a plan on how long you will stay. You can have the best intentions to be a positive influence but the longer your stay, the more of a detrimental effect it will have on your confidence.

While certain sectors are more prone to toxic or hostile environments, you can encounter this in any field. In one of the organisations I worked at, I developed anxiety that eventually led to panic attacks due to a particularly intense toxicity. I eventually became physically ill and it affected other areas of my life. All the ways work wasn’t working began to consume my life. Although I was still able to execute projects that I am proud of, the constant bullying and lack of accountability eventually took its toll.

The longer you stay in a toxic environment, the longer it will take for you to recover after you leave. So develop a coping strategy that includes an exit plan!

5. You’re ready for the next challenge.

You may be earning a good salary and enjoy what you do but things have become routine. Depending on your personality, you may be someone who seeks new challenges and are getting frustrated because your current job is not giving you the high of achievement it once did.

Because you are ready for something new – and maybe aren’t able to acknowledge that yet, you may find yourself focusing on small issues that didn’t really bother you in the past (like the way your colleague chews when he eats his lunch or the fact that your boss didn’t greet you when she walked in the door).

How do I prepare for the next challenge?

  • Figure out what the next step is on your professional pathway. (I don’t like calling it a career path anymore because it might just be that you are ready for to launch your next career).
  • Develop a plan on how you will take that next step: This could mean updating your resume, considering jobs not necessarily in your current field but nevertheless excites you and you have the required skill sets for. If you have a burgeoning business idea, start working on it during your evenings and on weekends. (See point 3 about starting a side hustle)

It is ok for you to be a multi-passionate individual. We no longer just need to do one job for the rest of our lives (thank goodness!). If you find yourself muttering the words, I hate my job again, take the time to figure out what you really mean by that.

Then, YOU need to do something about it. No one is going to come to your desk, cup your face in their hands and say: “I’m your fairy godmother. Your wish is my command.” Life is shorter than you think. Don’t waste your time (or your company’s resources) floundering in frustration.

It’s normal to feel frustrated about your job – use that to lean into the underlying why and you will find the keys you need to set yourself free. The path to finding your “life’s work” is not going to be linear or predictable – but that is really what everyone yearns for: meaning and joy in their work. It is how we are wired. Work culminates one third of our lives – why waste all that time and life energy being miserable?

If you enjoyed this post, please click the like button below or leave a comment and let me know!

If you’ve read this article and it’s created more anxiety because you feel unable to uncover your core frustrations, then we’re here to help you. Contact cheryl@wholepersonacademy.com for a one on one coaching session.

Defining Your Price Tag

Most people have high expectations of their first paycheck.

The promise of getting your first job is like a treasure chest containing wonderful jewels of life — like independence from your family, a ticket into real adulthood, the promise of defining your own life and finding your way in the world.

And depending on the profession you’ve chosen, you will either be satisfied with your first paycheck, or completely disillusioned. I think it’s safe to say that your initial ‘price tag’ — or salary — might not be what you imagined it would be.

I discovered Jim Rohn a few years ago and loved his definition of how we bring value to the marketplace: “You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” It took me a while to assimilate this but it eventually helped me to get free from connecting my income to my sense of worth.

Your salary is not a determination of your worth. It is a remuneration of your current skills set. Your salary is a cost to your organisation in exchange for the benefit of your service. Earning a salary is a great way to start out your career and gain experience — but in the light of the fourth industrial revolution, it’s short-sighted to make that a long-term plan.

So many university students that I’ve been interacting with are teeming with entrepreneurial ideas. Some already have start-ups on the go as they take on their first job, knowing that they have a side business that can eventually turn into their full time gig.

Increasing your value in the marketplace

 

The world doesn’t owe you anything. Entitlement in the workplace, in any form, is not rewarded.

Never be limited by your salary and don’t let your job title define you. Give your best at work, serve your company and your clients as if you were an owner in that business. What you don’t realise is that your work shapes you.

As you expand your skills set, gain experience and learn how to solve problems, your value to the marketplace grows simultaneously.

One of Rohn’s refrains is also: “If you do more than what you get paid to do, soon you will get paid more for what you do.” Some might scoff at this idea but I’ve found it to be true in my own life. We all you have a choice to make: you can either be limited by your salary or you can be guided by your salary.

The answer is not to focus on getting more — but to better manage what you have right now. If you learn to manage what you have well, then you will soon receive more to manage.

Most people want the increase in salary — but they don’t want the increase in responsibility that comes with the higher pay package.

So if you want to define your price tag, decide to show up for yourself everyday. The best way to future proof yourself in the rapidly advancing world of work is to inculcate an entrepreneurial mind set.

Become someone who takes initiative, who thinks creatively, who is adaptive and flexible. Make the commitment to lifelong learning. Be realistic about what you have to offer. Resolve to know yourself better than others do. Be open to constructive feedback.

Stay humble and keep growing.

Eventually, you will get to determine the price tag on your work — once you’ve proven your value to the market.

Work week reflection question: What is my current value to the market? How can I increase my value to the market in the short to long-term?

Who Are You Working For?

As the champagne bubbles from the New Year celebrations fade into memory, something else is rising on the inside of you as you face the work year ahead.

What is that feeling?

Is it anticipation? Dread? Anxiety? Excitement?

Pay close attention to those feelings as you make your way back to the office. Were you looking forward to the escape and dreading the inevitable return to chaos? Or are you grateful for the break but amped to jump into action and take on new challenges with your team?

The answer to that question provides a clue into the driving force of your work life. You are either working for yourself – where you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and how to get there. Or you are working for someone else – doing what your boss wants you to do just to get paid the salary and go home.

One reality has you thriving – the other one has you stuck in survival mode.

It’s not possible to bring your best to work when you’re either not sure what “your best” is, or you haven’t yet found your “passion pocket” – the thing that you love to do and others will gladly pay you to do.

While finding one’s ‘sweet spot’ is a personal journey, your life is entirely in your hands. You don’t have to stay stuck. You have more options that you might imagine.

And if you love what you’re currently doing, challenge yourself to expand the borders of your current experience.

You only get one life.

And you decide who you will work for.

Work week reflection question: Am I working to achieve my potential or just to meet the expectations of others?

I have contributed to barbaric consumerism. And it kills me.

I’d finally found the perfect pair of black trousers. The fit was great, even though it wasn’t on sale. (The large sale signs were what drew me into the fast fashion store in the first place).

I was standing in line to buy it but couldn’t ignore the gnawing sensation in my tummy.

Just weeks before, I was surprised by the low prices for decent items at a different fast fashion store. I bought a gift for my friend’s birthday (she’s a lawyer) and was confused when I saw her visibly wince when she saw the label, even refusing to try it on.

When I pressed her for the reason a few days later, she told me how that retailer, among many others, was notorious for their use of sweat shops (and child labour in particular).

I didn’t want to believe it.

And then I Googled. And yes, she was right. It was my first real glimpse into the hidden evils of our convenient, affordable fashion. I remember seeing the list of fast fashion labels and the store that I was now standing in was one of them.

The trousers were made in a particular country and I was horrified to read that workers from that country had sewn messages into the clothes to let consumers know that they were not being paid for their work.

I vacillated for a few more seconds.

And then, I indignantly left the line, put the pants back on the rack (but in a hidden spot in case I changed my mind and came back) and left the store.

I make a monthly contribution to A21, an organisation committed to freeing sex slaves around the world. I want to give more than I currently do — and eventually I will.

What made me sad in that moment — and decidedly remorseful a few days later after I watched The True Cost Netflix documentary — was how my own addictions and compulsions can be stealing life from people in other parts of the world.

As a fourth generation South African Indian, I have been eternally grateful to my great great grandfather who got on that boat and risked his life to find a new one.

I know struggle. I know pain.

So it is inconceivable that I should close my eyes and swipe my card to get a good deal. As a recovering shopaholic, I’ve bought into the systematic machinations of consumerism. Trying to buy something to fix what’s missing on the inside.

And this is why I think the world’s gone mad. Why do people give themselves over to barbaric consumerism, choosing to be oblivious to the real cost and feigning innocence with the statement: “Isn’t that the way all clothes are made?”

Our digital, interconnected world ensures that we have no excuses for mindless behaviour. We can’t feign ignorance. The source of the things we buy is available at our fingertips. So a quick Google search confirmed my intuition. Knowing what I knew, I needed to make an informed choice while standing in that line.

If I bought that pair of trousers, I was saying that greed is ok. Abuse, discrimination, a disregard for basic humanity, is ok. That some people are just better off than others and that’s just the way things are.

It’s just a little tiny hop, skip and jump to the ideology driving the growing number of pedophiles scoring the dark net, wreaking havoc on entire communities.

Exploiting the disenfranchised to achieve selfish ends is never ok.

I am carrying this sadness around with me. It feels like not enough people care. We are making silent votes for or against death every time we make a purchase.

I can choose the live of another without compromising my own.

I can choose to stop compromised the lives of others over serving my own selfish needs.

 

Help Me #Move4Food

 

I ran my first 5km trail run today.

Ok fine.  I wanted to run my first 5k, but I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was. So I ended up walking most of the way.

The only reason I signed up for the trail run in the first place was to prepare for the 10k that I’ve signed up for in September’s Cape Town Marathon. I needed something to challenge me to push past my fitness plateau. Although I’ve been working regularly with a personal trainer, my eating habits were sabotaging my results.

Admittedly, getting “in shape” is one of my lifetime battles.

As I study the value of whole person living (creating harmony in the areas of relationships, careers and finances) I am beginning to see how profoundly one aspect of life affects another.

I’ve lived as a victim for most of my life.

I didn’t choose that way of life. One could say that it was thrust onto me.

And I live in a country where we’d had deep trauma inflicted upon us by violence and hatred. (Not that we’re really that different from other countries – our social fractures are just closer to the surface.)

As a first generation professional (the first person in my immediate family to get a university qualification and enter into white collar work), the negativity, lack of resources, violence and fear I’d faced for years severely impeded  my success in life. I didn’t know how much until I participated in the Race of Life exercise. Twice.

The first time you do it, as the questions are asked, and you see the white people continually take steps forward, it makes you embarrassed. And then, it makes you sad. At the end, you are left holding anger that has no place to go.

And that’s how my country men live – walking around with invisible hand grenades, waiting to lay waste to the unfairness of inequality as if that is going to ensure restoration of a utopian state.

I’m tired of holding that hand grenade.

That feeling of “not enough and too much” has imploded too many times in my life, has left me voiceless and feeling powerless.

So now I want to move ahead, leaving the past behind and claiming my true personal power.

The truth is that the race of life involves so much MORE than race! The complexities of how success is defined, a person’s accountability for their lives, social capital (or the lack of it), the impending impact of the fourth industrial revolution, talent versus emotional intelligence… etc – there are too many factors contributing to how one navigates life. It is way more than the black and white divides that government agendas are forcing national thinking into.

All the political rhetoric is choking the hope of the current generation just trying to figure out what their future is going to look like.

Signing up for a 10km run was sparked by the passion I felt for others like me. The children of the disenfranchised who are trying to find their way in the forest of new freedoms.

Being the first in your family to get a university degree comes with a new frame of responsibility that no one has taught us how to navigate. Working within higher education over the past ten years, I have met resilient and phenomenal young people who are nothing short of heroes, based on everything they’ve overcome.

Their race is not over once they get their degree though. The hard-earned piece of paper is not a magic wand that transforms first generation white collar workers into confident professionals overnight.

The race goes on – there is more ground to gain from those already far ahead.

But what if we can help someone on one leg of their race?

Students on university campuses across the country are still struggling to have basic necessities like food and toiletries because most people are not aware of the funding shortfalls that still exist.

It’s not fair. But we can do something to help.

I can do something to help.

And so I’m going to #move4food so that I can help someone else run their race while I’m running mine.

Will you join me?

 

umbrellas, one pink

Own Your Uniqueness

You have something unique – and immensely valuable – to bring to your workplace.

Even as a graduate starting out with huge learning ahead of them, the energy and passion that you bring to your team will determine how much your current environment will add to your personal growth. Yes, you spent four (or more) years just grinding those books but the learning isn’t over once you get that precious parchment. Your head full of knowledge on campus will need to be matched with your heart full of passion in the concrete jungle.

EVERY work environment is an opportunity to learn about how the world works, how to work with others and how to apply understanding within a practical context. The biggest tip I can give millennials entering the workplace is to learn how to apply inter-generational communication. The internet abounds with information on how to integrate successfully with diverse teams (here’s an interesting Ted Talk to get you started).

It may feel like you know more than previous generations because you’re more tech-savvy and street smart but there are countless times that I’ve been humbled by insights gained from older colleagues. There are ways to build synergy between the impatient-lets-get-this-done-already individuals and the lets-think-this-through-and-do-this-right people. Yes, it can be infuriating some days (remember that you might be that cause of irritation to your colleagues!)

You go to work to solve problems. So expecting challenges and difficulties helps your brain to deal with the complexities coming at you on a daily basis. You have something to add to your current company. Your ability to see a simple solution to a complex challenge might be just what is needed. Maybe your positive energy and humour boosts team morale more than they might let on.

Yes you’re still a work in progress – but you’re never going to achieve ‘perfection’. Bring all your messy brilliance to your job and the results might surprise you!

Work week reflection question: Are there creative solutions to our current challenges that I can share and build with my team?

Your Manager Is Not God

I hate to be the one to break this terrible news to you: your manager is not God. I wish someone sat me down and told me this when I’d started working.

To begin with, I did not have healthy experiences with authority figures in my life. So I just assumed that everything they said and did was golden and that they would automatically know what I was thinking and feeling and would respond to me accordingly.

(This misconception doesn’t translate well to other important relationships, either).

Most of the time, when I put my mind to something, I get it done. And although I was never the ‘perfect employee’, I think that most of my managers enjoyed having me on their team because of my ability to show results. What I (subconsciously) expected from them though – and they weren’t really able to give – was to hold my hand on days that I was struggling and tell me that everything was going to be ok (fine, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here but you get the idea).

I didn’t know what I needed from them until I noticed that I wasn’t getting it (like acknowledgement for something done well, some thoughtful coaching when I’d made a mistake and shown how to improve next time).

Until I was a bonafide manager – with title and everything – I had no idea how tough it was. There are multiple pressures coming at you all the time, you have to juggle a number of projects simultaneously and when things go wrong, you’re the one that has to be held accountable. It was easier to hate my previous managers before I become one.

Now I have more empathy for them.

We’ve all heard the saying that “anyone can be a manager but not everyone can be a leader.” Just like the saying “anyone can be a dad, not everyone chooses to be a father”. Ultimately it comes down to how much an individual chooses to rise to the level of responsibility in his/her life. Some will lean into it and grow – others will cave under the pressure and abdicate responsibility.

I have more impetus than ever before to grow into this level of leadership. Coaching has helped me tremendously in this regard.

Just because someone has a title, doesn’t mean that they suddenly have demi-god powers that makes them immune to the same things everyone goes through. Growth takes time. Your manager is human, as are you.

Yes they have more responsibility to learn how to lead and manage a team effectively – but that doesn’t remove the responsibility from you to be a proactive and engaged employee. When I notice the pressures that my manager(s) face, I think about ways that I can be most helpful to them. Most of the time, that means buckling down and accomplishing the tasks that have been assigned to me already.

Try to take your focus off what your manager should be doing to improve your work life and rather use that energy to invest in your own personal development.

You’ll be happier for it.

Work week reflection question: In what ways am I indulging in unrealistic expectations of my manager and how can I focus on how I can improve the work environment?

Bearded man holding up a sign 'seeking human kindness'

Do You Want Real Help?

I wasn’t sure how to start writing about this topic.

Challenging people’s blind spots often means that you’re exposing your own. So here is my disclaimer: I fall into each of the categories below at differing stages of my life, even though I consider myself as someone who is constantly looking for ways to grow (for my Myers-Briggs profile tells me so).

Committing to lifelong learning means that you need to be open to help. And feedback. And sometimes, you’re not going to like the truth that you have to face. But being willing to swallow the bitter pill of correction also means that you are allowing yourself to heal from an internal state of mind that is weakening you.

There are three basic states of helplessness that we operate in… any of them familiar?

1. We don’t ask for help: This is the saddest state to be in – when we really need help and support but we don’t ask for it. Maybe we’re too proud to admit that we’re in over our heads, or we’ve never been given permission to be wrong or make a mistake. Perhaps the environment that we’re in (work, social or relational) is toxic or destructive and we’re afraid to ask for help. (This is when we really should reach out for real help).

2. We ask for help (but we don’t really want to change): This is an interesting state to be in because we think that we’re being open by asking for help. However, if we find ourselves resisting helpful feedback (especially if it’s being echoed by a few people that we know has our best interests as heart), then perhaps we’re not really ready to change. Perhaps what we actually want is to have people listen to us moan about things, because playing the victim makes us feel powerful (when it’s actually a powerless state).

3. We ask for help because we are hungry for change: This is the prime state of ‘helplessness’ to be in because at this point, the pain of getting better finally outweighs the pain of staying the same. I love helping people who are in this state because the advice and support falls into good, fertile ground and you can see the fruit of an altered mindset manifest in new, positive behaviour in a few weeks and months.

So which state are you in today? In denial, resistant or open? Know that you will only be able to see real change in your life when you are open to receiving constructive help. Be proactive in implementing whatever systems or tools you can in order to correct faulty beliefs and shift your thinking patterns from negative to positive. Let the people who offer you help enjoy the reward of seeing you grow!

Work week reflection question: How am I standing in my own way of receiving real help that will help me grow?

Give Yourself Time To Grow

I’ve recently started living on avocados.

It’s part of my healthy eating plan and despite the price, I do relish a ripe avo that satiates my appetite. I just hate waiting for them to ripen. I never know what to do with a half ripe avo once I’ve cut it open.

Do I put it back together and place it in the fridge and hope for the best? Do I throw it in the bin and cringe at the money wasted? It’s often difficult to gauge by the level of softness of the skin when it is fully ripe.

I know you’re waiting for this avo monologue to turn into a meaningful metaphor, so here it is: how do you know when you’ve achieved a level of growth that has ‘ripened’ you for the next season in your life?

One of the definitions of the word ripe, means to ‘have arrived at the fitting stage or time for a particular action or purpose’. As you read this, you may be facing the prospect of taking on a new project, or bracing yourself for the start of a new job. Maybe you’re contemplating the start of a new relationship or friendship and you’re not sure of you’re ready for that commitment.

When it comes to new challenges or opportunities, we often vacillate across the range of preparedness: ‘I’m-so-not-ready-yet’, ‘yes- let’s-do-this’, ‘why-hasn’t-this-happened-yet’?

So, how do you know when you are ready to take on something new?

In my experience – and from my collected observations – there are three stages of readiness in life:

  1. Things that you need to say yes to in order to grow:
    • Learning how to drive, or enrolling for your university degree, are brief yet crucial stages  to development.
  2. Things that only materialize when you’ve reached a certain level of growth:
    • That job that has specific entry level requirements, or a career opportunity that is offered to you that you weren’t looking for, because your good work has had ripple positive effects.
  3. Things that you don’t feel not quite ready for but the decision to say yes to it will help you grow into it:
    • Committing to a relationship with the person you know is good for you or realising that you’re going to be a parent and responsibility is going to take on a whole new level.

Rarely do we feel 100% ready and excited to take on something new.

The day that your hand clutches that hard earned degree is just the beginning of a series of growth stages in your life. It might mean that you are ready to enter the world of work – but it also means that you are beginning a new series of cycles and seasons.

Life is a journey, not a series of events that we can neatly summarise on our cv.

Growth takes time. Change is a continual cycle that leads to slow, incremental growth that eventually results in a fruitful life.

Work week reflection question: What aspect of growth are you currently impatient about and how can you give yourself the time and space you need for things to take root?

 

 

Your Work Is A Gift

 

 

It’s weird how most of the information we receive about work these days is how much we need to escape it.

There are whole industries dedicated to enticing you on expensive holidays to some exotic destination – all to escape the evils of work. Work is not some evil dragon, waiting in the dark to consume you with the fire of fury. It’s simply, as the dictionary defines it: “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.”

Does it take some effort to brush your teeth in the morning? Or to make that cup of coffee that helps you face the day? What about comparing the work load of an office worker with a construction worker? What measures of effort would you use to calculate what work was done in an eight hour time period?

If you choose to see work as a curse, you will live under the burden of strain, pain and pressure – just waiting for the moment when you can escape into that next beer, walk on the beach or shopping expedition.

 

If this was what you did all day – for years – you lose your mind.

 

Your work is not separate from you. Work presents an opportunity. It gives you the gift of growth. Everyday. Whether you unwrap it or not. The way that you lean into the invitation to allow your work to sculpt your character, will determine your level of success in life.

You bring who you are to everything that you do. The way you brush your teeth, or make your bed (or not) or answer emails or deal with your colleagues.

What is it going to take for you to bring your best to work?
 

Monday motivation: What will change this week if I allow the gift of work before me to help me grow?