Is it me, or is it my job?
We may blame our jobs for making us miserable, but it can be
our mindset that's affecting us. If you are not sure whether to stay and change
your approach — or to look for something new —follow these guidelines from
Durban counseling and industrial psychologist Erna Nel.
Is it me, or is it
the underlying issue. For example:
I'm frustrated at not progressing.
I'm not being recognized and rewarded for what I do.
I've outgrown the position.
Financially, the job isn't viable.
I experience personality clashes with one or more colleagues.
I have a difficult boss/superior.
I'm subjected to sexual harassment and/or victimization.
I'm tired and/or burnt out.
My life is out of balance — and I feel hopeless.
Look at the problems in your life and how these may be
hindering your enjoyment of work. For example: Am I my own worst enemy? Do I
limit myself in what I think I can achieve? What actions am I currently taking?
It may help to communicate your doubts to a friend, colleague or a professional
who can offer objective input.
who you are
Your interests, values, aptitudes and skills have an impact
on our potential success and satisfaction with different career options and our
work environments. Ask your-self: What are my targets? What is my purpose in
What opportunities are open to you within the
organization—and outside of it? Is there someone you can talk to about these
options? Be mentally agile in dealing with all the factors that might come into
fear of change
All the above involves decision making, which means taking
risks. How you view yourself—as a capable individual or a helpless victim —
will determine thoughts, motivations, attitude, successes, failures and your
Capitulating to your internal (or an external) slave-driver
is exhausting and likely to catch up with you at some stage. "Health risks
generally come at the point where a person is obsessive or too devoted,"
says Dr Nye.
"When your work identity becomes all-encompassing, you
may be at risk of stress-related disorders, like IBS, spastic colon,
palpitations, inability to cope and heart attacks."
"Those who do their work with a sense of anxiety, who
do one thing and then have got to do another, are also more prone to burnout,
higher anxiety levels, and depression," adds Michelson.
While "energizing stress" is associated with
improved personal productivity, "destructive stress" has the opposite
effect, writes management expert and author Robert Kreitner in the journal Business
How to (re)discover yourself
"More and more of us... have been cut off from sources
of vitality and meaning that come from the non-professional side of life,"
says Robinson, who believes satisfaction in after-hours is the best predictor
of personal satisfaction.
Your passion may be a common activity, like jogging, or it
might be highly specific, such as creating art on canvas using a variety of
materials. Of course, the further you are from your authentic self, the harder
it can be to pinpoint what it is that engages you. Passions don't always
"spring fully born", Robinson reassures us in his book. Sometimes it
takes exploration and experimentation to remind yourself of what makes you
tick. Answering these questions may help you too:
was I so riveted by a new experience that I forgot I had a single problem?
do I live for?
am I missing?
are the interests that will lead to the highlights of my life?
was the last time I got goose bumps from something beautiful, thrilling or
Alternatively, take your quest one step further with the
interactive passion-finder tool at dontmissyourlife.net
Find Your Life
7. Make time
"There are 24 hours in a day. It's reason-able to
expect to spend a decent portion of them enjoying recreation or play, and with
family and friends," says Kolobe. "Though it's tempting to put off
rest or recreation due to "being too busy", "going to gym",
or "playing with your kids", just 20 minutes of meditation will help
make you more productive and balanced," says Dr Nye. “Perhaps you'll even
8. Own your
Don't burn up discretionary hours on just "being
busy", says Robinson. "You're working for a reason: to live, and your
free time is when you do that."
9. Live big
Opportunities to "activate life" are all around
us, writes Robinson, who believes true leisure doesn't involve
"vegging" but in being "engaged". "Participatory
leisure experiences are the missing piece of life satisfaction."
10. Or start small
Finding your authentic self can involve a very subtle shift,
says Michelson. It isn't about adding more pressure to your life. "It's
not about 'doing frenetically' in your leisure hours, or squeezing in
activities when you're really pressed for time. For example, five minutes
reading with your kids or taking them for a walk can make the difference. It's
about being present."
11. Give yourself
permission to play
This is perhaps the greatest antidote to productivity
paranoia. The trick is to see play as a rewarding activity in itself, writes
Robinson, and not as "slacking". Authentic play involves
participating because you want to; playing for the sake of playing; jumping in
and trying, even if you've never done it before; playing to learn; playing to
be in the activity... not to get it done.
4 Signs You're Becoming Your Job
"You've gone too far when you compromise other aspects of
your life that are important to you," says clinical therapist Catherine
You stand back for a moment and feel empty, says Michelson.
"You can't close off work and enjoy leisure because work fills a
"If you no longer experience joy in what you're doing, it's
a sign you're already out of balance," says GP and integrative health
practitioner Dr David Nye.
You don't know what to do in your off-time, says work-life
balance trainer Joe Robinson. So you tend to "default to boredom or
entertainment chosen by others".