🧡 Relationship status: in a (toxic) relationship with my job
I have to confess I was in one of those toxic relationships for a long time. Out of fear of change and of losing what I have acquired on the job at a hefty price.
Let me start by saying there is nothing wrong with being career-oriented.
We are many women and men who see our career path as part of our so-called self-realization.
A job can be one of the best outlets to help us express our skills in a productive manner- earn a decent living and gain financial independence- among many other things.
But when we wake up every day with a pit in our stomach, when we feel depleted and taken advantage of, then it’s a good time to explore what’s going on with this unhealthy relationship.
Let’s start by a bit of investigating…
How was your day, honey?
A good way to start, right?
Observe throughout the next few weeks (or another mid-term period especially if your job is seasonal and cyclical) the up and down days at the job.
- How do you feel when all is well and flowy?
- Do you feel motivated, energized, ready to tackle any mountain?
- Overall, how many of these days do you have in any given cycle?
I want to debunk a myth that I see creeping up every once in awhile: not everything we do will need to be fun.
Any job (and much of anything in life) will have a dose of things we dislike – like admin work for example. I never heard anyone who likes to do their tax returns. Yet, if we want to survive in this world, there is no way around it.
Same thing with the job. There will be moments of tension, conflicts, and discomfort; it goes with the territory of standing up and playing with the upper crowd.
But if every day is the same repetition of the growing pains, then it’s about time to take a closer look at what is happening there.
The key is to spot and stop any burnout before it becomes yet another level in the (toxic) relationship.
You have changed, my dear job…
From your answers above, do you feel it’s time to take a hike?
Not so fast! Hear me out.
Your issue with the job might not be (only) about the job.
Before you go sayonara and find yourself with a case of buyer’s remorse 6 months into the new place, consider a thorough inventory before the final breakup.
1/ It’s you, dear job, it’s not me (part i)
The most straightforward situation.
You have outgrown the job; you can do the work with your eyes closed, you have been sitting comfortably but… yeah, you know you are playing small in here.
==> time to explore outside?
2/ It’s you, dear job, it’s not me (part ii)
In the form of a toxic workplace: not an ideal situation.
Examine how aligned your values are with the Company’s – much of the iffy feeling can be about that.
- Do you feel proud of where you work?
- Does the Company have a clear compensation and promotion process?
- Does your team promote co-collaboration, healthy communication and exchanges of ideas?
- What can you tolerate [because there is a higher purpose for you] and what is a deal breaker?
Does any of the above make you feel angry/queasy?
==> time to explore outside?
It’s not you, it’s me…
As much as I am not here to tell what to do, I have a favor to ask:
Before you pull the plug on the job altogether, take a few minutes to examine what you can do right now to improve your relationship with the job: use this time to readjust some unhealthy behavior, for the long haul.
1/ You are tipping the balance off (not in your favor)
- How much time do you spend working (including when off) vs what you are paid for?
I am not expecting a 100% match; unfortunately, it rarely works this way (although it should), most of us need to go the extra 110% to secure our position.
When we use work as an excuse not to [deal with the significant other, the family, avoiding …], it’s time to reconsider the job as a favorite numbing agent.
Because what you are avoiding now will not disappear with the older job.
2/ The job = me
This is a big one; we live in societies who encouraged in us this way of thinking since we were wee and it has been going on for generations.
The title becomes who you are. So does the way others perceive you at work.
So guess what?
We get scared of losing a job, because it means losing our social identity.
We develop all sorts of unhealthy attachments to the opinions of our managers, our teams and so on.
How many of us have this sense of misplaced loyalty, when we cannot say ‘no’ because we would be letting down ‘our people’ knowing well that they would not return the favor anyway?
3/ a.k.a ‘the machine’ = my middle name
This is a good time to take an honest look at what we have been giving away in the workplace: people-pleasing at our own expenses; looking for external validation, not finding it, and belittling ourselves; among other things.
Because it’s likely that all of the above might be exacerbating other unhealthy behaviors: perfectionism being one of them; and what goes with it: refusing to delegate, micro-managing, being stuck in a repetitive way of thinking and doing…
With the bonus of getting stuck even more.
This is when we have a choice to make: continue with that business as usual mode; or start considering other options!
One last! from personal experience, the way we behave in our relationship with the job can be a signal to examine how we do with any relationship.
We might be developing unhealthy attachments to praise and applause; we are letting a relationship define who we are (and feel miserable because we are setting ourselves to failing ourselves anyway); we are giving away pieces of what’s important for us, without getting anything in exchange.
Food for thoughts!