As a professional speaker, I speak to thousands of people every year. But I also listen to thousands of people every year. People approach me before, during, and after my programs to talk about their jobs.
Most of the time people talk about the negative aspects of their jobs. They may have a boss that is difficult, a schedule that is horrendous, or a job that is meaningless.
Unfortunately most of those people feel stuck. They think there’s nothing they can do, and there’s nowhere to go.
That’s not true. No matter how bad things are, no matter how awful your job or your life may be, you always have three choices. You can LIVE with it; you can LOBBY to change it, or you can LEAVE. And just knowing you have a choice makes all the difference in the world.
Make sure you understand each of your three options.
1. Your first choice is to LIVE with it.
Let’s say you don’t like your job. Your first choice is to LIVE with it. In other words, accept it as it is; quit your griping, and make the best of it.
That’s what the young Vietnamese man does who works at my local gas station. He works long hours for very little money, yet he’s always friendly and offers excellent customer service. I know a lot of people wouldn’t like his job, so I asked him how he felt about his job. With a smile he said, “I am proud to have a job in America. This is a good country. I am lucky.”
If you don’t like your job,
2. Your second choice is to LOBBY for change.
You can take some action or make some effort to change your job. Perhaps you talk to your boss, learn some new skills for getting along with a coworker, or find a way to streamline your tasks. The key is you “do” something. You lobby for change.
When I was a professor, my classes were so popular that we had a waiting list of almost three years to get into one of my classes. But on occasion, there would be a few students that didn’t like the grades they received in my class. So they would come to my office to lobby for a better grade, and occasionally I would change a grade.
However, most of them fell into one of two categories: 1) the “deceived” or 2) the “misinformed.” Make sure you don’t fall into one of those categories if you are about to lobby your boss for a change in your job.
The “deceived” ones are the ones who fooled themselves into thinking that results are not necessary. The “deceived” ones thought that having a “good story” as to why they didn’t do well, should’ve been enough to get a better grade at school or a pay raise at work.
If you’re in a leadership role and a “deceived” person is lobbying you for change, don’t buy it. Remind them, there’s a big difference between REAL RESULTS and NO RESULTS BUT A GOOD STORY. Then help them focus on what they’re going to do to get results.
The second type of student that lobbied for a grade change was the “misinformed.” Those were the ones who came to my office upset with a poor grade because they really had tried. They put a lot of effort into the project, essay, or exam, but didn’t do well. They believed that all their effort should count for something.
Unfortunately, that’s immature thinking. That’s for babies, not adults. When we were children, we got a lot of praise for just trying — trying to walk and trying to learn. We lived in an age of activity. As an adult, however, we live in a world of results, and in that world, only results count.
When you interact with “misinformed” colleagues who are lobbying for a change in their job, gently remind them that times have changed. While you appreciate their effort, and while you respect the fact they really tried, in the new world of work we don’t buy people’s time, we buy what they accomplish. No one is “entitled” to a better grade, a promotion, a pay raise, or tenure just because they’ve put in the effort or put in the time. Remind them that time on the job is one thing, but results on the job are everything.
Of course, there are times when you can’t LIVE with your job, and if you can’t or won’t LOBBY to make it better, you still have a choice.
3. Your third choice is to LEAVE your job.
Of course, that may not be easy and it may be painful. But it is a choice you have. You are not stuck in your job unless you choose to stay stuck in your job.
There are few things more stressful than spending your life in a job you don’t enjoy. If you decide the LOBBY choice won’t work and if you decide you don’t want to LEAVE, then I implore you to change your attitude toward your job so you can contentedly LIVE with it.
To get you started, pick one part of your job that you don’t enjoy, that you might even dread or complain about. Now consciously change your attitude toward that part of your job by finding something good in that dreaded task. With a little repetition and a little practice, you will indeed change your attitude.
One final thought: Time on the job is one thing. Results on the job are everything. For some practical insight into making the best of work AND the 7 other dimensions of life, take a look at my new program, Take This Job and Love It! How To Keep Your Balance In A Stressed-Out World. Click here to view the program outline.