What to Do When You Hate Your Job But Can’t Leave

What to Do When You Hate Your Job But Can’t Leave

If your instagram or Facebook feeds are anything like mine, they’re filled with inspiring quotes about living the life you were born to live by pursuing your passions and following your dreams. (Heck, I’ve posted plenty of such things myself)!

Here’s one to chew on by Quincy Jones:

“The people who make it to the top – whether they’re musicians, or great chefs, or corporate honchos – are addicted to their calling … [they] are the ones who’d be doing whatever it is they love, even if they weren’t being paid.”

In my own personal life and work with clients, I have found this to be entirely true. It may seem like a cliche, but when you love what you are doing, you feel exhilarated, excited, and eager to create. In turn, you put in more effort and energy, and often enjoy greater success.

But, what do you do when you’re in a job you’re not passionate about? What if you dislike or even hate it? And, what if this realization also happens to coincide with the reality that you have plenty of bills and responsibilities that won’t get attended to if you quit on the spot to become an artist, or run off to Bali, or even just put yourself out of your misery while you look for another position that you’ll like a whole lot better?

Despite what your instagram says, sometimes the best thing to do is to make the most of the job you have while looking for the one that will stoke your passions. After all, a lot of us have hard time feeling blissful when we’re concerned about being evicted or don’t know where our next meal is coming from! So, if you find yourself in this position, here are some tips that can transform the way you look at your work while you are in the midst of getting ready for your next move.

1. Self-reflect

Take a hard look at yourself. Are you one of those people for whom the grass is always greener? Have you gone through a string of jobs and been miserable in each one? While it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that you’re just having a hard time finding something that’s the right fit for you, it’s also worth exploring whether something else is going on. After all, the common denominator in all of these situations is you. If you’re someone who makes a habit of pointing the finger at other people and circumstances to explain your dissatisfaction, it might be time to do some inner work to get happier. In turn, you’ll likely put yourself in a better position to appreciate your future professional opportunities.

2. Make a Plan

Being in a job you hate can feel paralyzing. It’s not uncommon to feel hopeless, stressed, or just plain stuck when you’re working in a position that you know isn’t right for you. To deal with this, I encourage you to fight the urge to succumb to helplessness and instead, take your power back by creating a plan.

Consider what would you prefer to be doing. What steps could you take to get there? Unsure of the steps to take? Make a list of people you talk to in order to get more information, and reach out to them. Completely at a loss for what fields interest you or how you can best use your strengths? Look into working with a career coach.

3. Work your Plan

Once you have your plan together, it’s possible you could feel overwhelmed. After all, getting more education or building a business from scratch, for example, are no small feats!  To make things more manageable, think of one thing you could do right now that would move you towards your goal and do it. Whether it’s reading a book, conducting an online search, editing your resume, saving money, or talking to someone in the field, moving forward can break your feeling of inertia. Continue taking these small actions, and not only will you feel much more empowered, before you know it, you’ll have some serious momentum going that will propel you forward to your next adventure.

4. Don’t “check out” of the job you have

I once worked with a client (I’ll call Sarah) who was sick of her job. She respected her boss and was good at what she did, but she was at a place at which she could work on autopilot. Instead, she dreamt about being assigned to an international position in which she could do bigger and better things career-wise.  But, since it looked like that wasn’t about to happen anytime soon, she became disengaged –  showing up late and putting in less effort. She felt justified in doing so because she was “in a rut and hated her job.”

Now, the average person reading this might think, “If you want a promotion, what the heck are you doing slacking off?” However, Sarah was entirely blind to this point. It wasn’t until I said to her, “If you were leaders in the company, trying to select the person who should get a great assignment, would you pick someone who is constantly late and doesn’t seem to be trying that hard?” Once she acknowledged the irony of her situation, she got her act together and became much more productive.

And, even if you have already decided that you are going to leave the company, this advice still applies. After all, is there a possibility that you might need a reference in the future? Make sure to keep the long game in mind, and put in your best effort as you prepare for your next move.

5. Change how you look at your job

As you’re planning your next move, it’s certainly not in your best interest to continue to feel overwhelmed with misery in your current job. After all, what if your next career move is a few years in the making – is it worth it to be unhappy for that whole time?

To address this, it can often be helpful to reframe how you are looking at your work. One way to do this is to consider what there is in your professional life for which you can be grateful.  Do you have a funny co-worker? Has the work helped you to develop new skills (even if it’s the emotional intelligence to deal with your ornery boss)? Does the job keep food on your table and a roof over your head? We often take these sorts of things for granted; however, acknowledging them can help you to better appreciate your work.

Finally, consider how your work aligns with your values. For example, if you’re someone that enjoys helping people, think about how your job contributes to a better world for others. If you love learning, think about where there are opportunities to learn in what you are currently doing. Being more mindful of how your values can be expressed in your work can increase your level of satisfaction. And, it might even give you some ideas about projects to pitch to your boss.

Finally, when all else fails, you know there’s always an inspirational Maya Angelou quote for you: “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

Hmmm…might just put that on my instagram!

7 Essential Personality Qualities for Entrepreneurs

7 Essential Personality Qualities for Entrepreneurs

“One of these days I’m going to start my own business!”

How many times have you heard someone make this pronouncement ? Perhaps a colleague said it in response to a complaint about her boss or her working conditions. Maybe your significant other has an idea for an invention that he just knows is going to make him a millionaire. Or, perhaps you have said it because you long for the perceived freedom and flexibility that accompanies working for yourself.

Regardless of the motivation for embarking on a new business, it is important to consider that while entrepreneurship is a path that allows many people the opportunity to live out their dreams, the reality is that not everyone is up to the challenges of this less stable way of life.

If you are thinking about taking the leap into being your own boss, read on to learn some qualities you will need to possess. And, if you are already an entrepreneur, check out this list to see if there are any aspects of your personality you should be developing to boost your chances for success.

1. Risk Tolerance

Let’s start with the obvious – having a tolerance for risk is a necessity  for being an entrepreneur. Working for yourself lacks the security of a regular pay check, paid vacation, benefits, and the like. And, there’s the chance that things may not turn out as well as you had hoped. If you can’t stomach the risk of potential failure, entrepreneurship is not for you.

2. Emotional Resilience

An entrepreneurial lifestyle is one that can be quite stressful. In addition to the lack of guarantees regarding income, the path can be fraught with disappointments, like products or services not taking off like you had hoped they would, losing clients, or unexpected expenses. And, unfortunately, when the buck stops with you, you’re the one who has to ultimately figure out how to solve the problems. In order to manage the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial life, you will need resilience so you can move on from mistakes, setbacks, or failures without dwelling on them.

3. Learning Orientation

In addition to being able to bounce back quickly from setbacks, the ability to learn from them is important. Instead of beating yourself up when things don’t go as planned, you will be better off if you take a step back and figure out the lessons learned. Being open to feedback, willing to change direction when strategies aren’t working, and receptive to mentoring  by others with more experience will increase the odds of your success. If you are not open to learning and trying new approaches, the entrepreneurial life may not be for you.

4. Optimism

While I wouldn’t recommend being blindly optimistic, a positive attitude is a necessary ingredient for an entrepreneur. Without a sense of optimism, how will be able to put yourself out there to face possible rejection? Without optimism, how can you keep trying in the face of “no’s?” Without optimism, how can you innovate? An ability to see the glass as half full will take you far in your journey, and keep you motivated when the going gets tough.

5. Conscientiousness

Think being conscientious is important when you’re working for someone else? It’s even more important when you’re the person in charge. To run a successful business, you have to be self-directed and self-disciplined, with the ability to structure yourself and manage your time. Without these qualities, your ideas may remain just that – merely ideas – that aren’t being executed on.

6. Self-Awareness

To be a successful entrepreneur, self-awareness is essential. Knowing your strengths and areas for growth enables you to position yourself appropriately to leverage your strengths, and either work to develop in the areas in which you are weaker, or augment yourself with others who can complement you in those areas. Having allies who will tell it to you like it is will help you to guard against blind spots so you can make sure you are performing at your best.

7. Passion

Given the time, energy, hard work, and risk associated with being an entrepreneur, having a sense of passion for what you’re doing is a necessity. Research shows we are more productive and engaged in our work when we see it as a calling, and given the high stakes involved, having a high sense of drive and purpose about what you’re doing will gives you a sense of purpose that will help you to persist.

Finally, to keep your spirits up, reflect on these inspiring words from Mark Twain,

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.”

Are you an entrepreneur or entrepreneur-to-be? What other qualities are needed for success?

Why You Should Spend Way More Time in Nature

Why You Should Spend Way More Time in Nature

There are few things I enjoy more than spending time in nature when the weather is beautiful. Whether it’s taking in the beauty of the freshly planted flowers on my deck, walking amongst the trees early on a Sunday morning at Grant Park, or (when I’m lucky) chilling on the beach in one of my parents’ home countries (Jamaica and Bermuda), I truly relish time that I can spend in the great outdoors.

In this article, I share some of the research that highlights why so many people I know also feel rejuvenated and refreshed after spending some time in nature.


 Novelist Jane Austen said, “To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.” And who could argue with her? I know I can’t. Appreciating the magnificence of trees, inhaling salty ocean air, or marveling at the sumptuous colors of a field of flowers always fills me with a sense of wonder and renews my spirit.

There’s good reason so many artists and poets have found inspiration in the beauty of creation. Research has shown that spending time in nature can benefit you both mentally and physically, in a variety of surprising ways.

If you feel like taking a walk outside in the middle of the day is necessary for your well-being, you’re probably right. Read on for eight compelling reasons to spend more time enjoying the great outdoors!

1. Spending time in nature increases your sense of vitality.

A series of studies examined the effects of nature on participants’ self-reported levels of vitality. The results showed that spending time in nature (and even looking at pictures of it or visualizing nature scenes) increased participants’ energy. It’s no surprise: when you’re outside, you awaken your senses. Surrounded by the colors, smells and sounds of all the living beings in nature, you literally feel life all around you. And as a result, you feel more alive.

2. Exposure to nature makes you more resilient to stress.

In one study, participants were shown a traumatic video (of workplace accidents, in case you’re curious) followed by a video that showed either outdoor scenes of nature or urban environments. Researchers found that the individuals who viewed the nature scenes showed faster physical recovery from the effects of stress than the subjects who viewed urban scenes. Going outdoors may just be the most natural remedy there is for all different kinds of healing.

Click here to learn 6 more reasons!
4 Ways to Ensure You Fulfill Your Potential

4 Ways to Ensure You Fulfill Your Potential

In my latest  guest post for MindBodyGreen, I discuss four common attitudes that get in the way of people fulfilling their dreams – and what you can do about them. I hope you enjoy it!

Is there anyone who doesn’t ultimately aspire to live a life filled with enthusiasm and passion? We all want to make the most of our talents and become the best versions of ourselves we can possibly be, right?

I’d say yes, as would most people, I think. But then why do so many of us settle for a life of mediocrity, in which we spend our time yearning for bigger and better things instead of actually going after them?

In my experience, there are a few pretty common obstacles that get in the way of living in a way that fully supports becoming the self-actualized person we were meant to be. Do you see yourself in any of them? If so, I’ve offered some potential remedies …

1. Fear of failure

Our culture teaches us that failure should be avoided at all costs. So, instead of taking chances out of a place of excitement and passion, we choose to stay safe so as to avoid putting energy into something that doesn’t guarantee a successful outcome.

Sure, this approach may help us to avoid the possibility of making a “mistake,” but it often prevents us from experiencing self-trust, joy and fulfillment.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

7 Tips for Making a Major Life Change

7 Tips for Making a Major Life Change


“If you do nothing unexpected, nothing unexpected happens.”
~Fay Weldon

 

After years of hemming, hawing, and stiff-arming my intuition, I decided to take the leap.   I searched through my documents folder, edited the date on the resignation letter I had written a year prior, and finally mustered up the nerve to actually hand it in.

Immediately after I did so, I was shocked to find that I didn’t have the overwhelming feeling of terror I expected as a result of leaving my stable, not entirely fulfilling job of the past ten years. Instead, I felt an all-encompassing sense of peace and certitude. I knew that pursuing my passion of being an author, speaker, and entrepreneur was absolutely right for me.

While it was empowering to finally take a stand for my authentic self, at the same time, I also knew that making such a big transition would require a lot of personal growth. I would need to truly embody all it is that I say I believe.  It is one thing to declare you are a spiritual person who trusts in your intuition, and quite another to actually act on it.

So, while I always saw myself as having ownership for my life, I knew that diving headlong into uncertainty and ambiguity would definitely push the issue. However, I saw this as both an exciting challenge with the opportunity for exhilarating rewards.

I am still on the journey, but I have definitely received a lot of signs that following my heart was the right choice for me.  How do I know? I feel greater aliveness and enjoyment in my daily adventures.  I am stretching myself in ways I have never experienced before and finding out just how courageous I am. I have being exposed to exciting opportunities I have always dreamed of, that serve as a reward for listening to my gut. And, I have a sense of peace and deep knowing that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

As I mentioned, I knew this transition would require a lot of growth on my part. So, as I’m going through this experience, I have been picking up a lot of tips and lessons. Here are some of the biggest ones I have learned so far:

 

1.  Make Sure the Timing is Right

As I noted, I really took my time to reflect before deciding to move ahead. This allowed me to be sure I was making a well-informed choice for the right reasons. I suggest you take a similar approach before making a drastic change.

Before you make the jump, check in with yourself to make sure that now is the right time. Are you running away from something? If so, maybe there is a lesson to be learned in staying put. Are you racked with fear about the prospect of doing something different? Perhaps you need to process those feelings further. Do you have any resources that could carry you through challenging times? If you are taking a risk, having some backup can help to allay anxieties.

Do you have a deep sense of peace about the transition, knowing that it may not be a smooth road, but the journey in terms of life lessons, fulfillment, authenticity, and purpose will be worth it? Then, the time may just be right for you!

2.  Recognize Sometimes You Just Need to Hop, Not Leap

Before drumming up the courage to go out on my own, I made little shifts in my life that in retrospect, really prepared me for where I am now.  And for some people I know, those little hops have been all they have needed to achieve greater meaning and fulfillment in their lives.

While the dramatic metamorphoses are the ones we often hear about, sometimes you just need a little fine-tuning to be more aligned with your purpose. Reflect on whether you actually need to make a drastic change.  Perhaps taking up a hobby, asking for different assignments, or challenging yourself in some other way is all you need.

3.  Give Yourself Time to Grieve

Before I made my transition, I consulted with someone who told me to give myself time to grieve my old job. While I initially questioned her opinion since I felt very ready for the move I was making, once I left, I recognized the wisdom of her counsel.

Things were different – I was no longer seeing my coworkers on a daily basis. While I welcomed my newfound flexibility, my routine was different.  Plus, my identity was shifting from employee to entrepreneur and author. Giving myself permission to reflect on the past, get my bearings in the present, and mindfully look to the future allowed me to honor the positive aspects of my old job, heal parts of me that needed it, and move forward with energy and purpose.

4.  Create a Safe Environment

I found that for myself, being in the midst of a lot of change made me crave having pockets of stability and calm where I could find them.  To create that for myself, I went through a major decluttering process.

As I cleaned out closets, files, and junk, I asked myself a simple question – “Does this still serve me?” With each item I immediately knew the answer.  And, unsentimentally, I either threw away, or found a spot for it.  Once I went through this purging process, I purchased a few items to beautify my space.

This process was important for me on an number of levels. Symbolically, I was able to get rid of some of the ties to the past that I didn’t need to have anymore. I was putting a stake in my future, and didn’t need some of my “security blanket” items anymore. On a practical level, having an energizing environment makes a tangible difference in how I feel on a daily basis.

5.  Stay True to Yourself  

I have found that people vary widely in terms of their risk tolerance.  So, while a lot of people fantasize about working for themselves and becoming entrepreneurs, there are a whole lot less of them who actually decide to go that route.  Knowing that, I was aware that there would be some friends and associates who would offer unsolicited advice, worries, or second-guesses of my decisions.

Through all of this, I continued to listen to my intuition and recognize that other people are welcome to their opinions. I and I alone, however, am the one responsible for making a life with which I will be satisfied.

6.  Be on the Lookout for Lessons

I knew that making a major shift would set the stage for a lot of personal growth opportunities, and I welcomed the opportunity to continue to peel back my layers and become more enlightened.  When challenges arise, I pay attention to my reactions to determine what I can learn from them. By striving to become a better person as a result of the risk I took, I am indeed accomplishing that goal.

7.  Move Ahead with Gusto

After taking the leap I knew I couldn’t just sit back and wait for things to fall into my lap. So I have been pursuing my goals with energy, intuition, inspiration, passion, and gusto. It’s been an amazing journey, with lots of rewards, and now, I can’t imagine not having made this choice!

Have you made any big life changes? What tips would you share?

 

6 Tips to Unleash Your Authentic Self

6 Tips to Unleash Your Authentic Self

Here is a guest blog post I wrote for Tiny Buddha about my own journey to live with more authenticity. I hope you enjoy it!

 


“Being who you are is another way of accepting yourself.” ~Unknown

Years ago, I struggled to be authentic. I was a consultant who worked with very senior people in big organizations. As a Black female fresh out of graduate school, I was frequently the youngest in the room, the only woman in the room, and the only minority in the room.

Because on the surface, I was so different from those around me, I was very concerned about how I might be perceived. So, I put a lot of effort into portraying myself in ways I thought would increase the odds that others would accept me.

To make sure others wouldn’t underestimate me, I led with my intelligence—saying things to let them know how smart and knowledgeable I was, and playing down my fun-loving side.

To make sure I wasn’t seen as militant or overly sensitive, I stayed quiet in response to comments that ranged from a little “over the line” to blatantly offensive.

To make sure others felt at ease, whenever I was asked to talk about myself, I stuck with the most innocuous and middle-of-the-road stories that I knew were most similar to the other person’s life experiences.

And here is a small, but classic example—even though I had been yearning to own a snazzy smartphone case for years, I stayed with a neutral black one so I would be seen as suitably conservative instead of too girly or flamboyant. (Yes, I had it bad!)

The irony of all of this was that, although this approach caused me to be seen as someone who was bright, competent, and capable, it didn’t exactly forge deep connections with other people.

 

Click here to read the rest of the post!

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