Monday, December 6, 2010

The Working Girl's Survival Guide

It's probably not a big surprise that the drama and stress continues with my job.

At least the jerk-boss is gone. That's been a relief. But the work is still piled up deep, and no relief in sight. I can bitch and complain and whine about work - but it doesn't really change anything (ok, it does feel better for just a little bit!).

While I'd love to find a job doing something I love, that isn't an option right now. I'm not in a position where I can chuck it all and walk away (but a girl can dream, right??).

So until I win the lottery, I'm stuck. I ask myself daily - multiple times - "how can I find ways to cope in this situation? how can I make it tolerable enough to make it through another day, another week, or another month?"

And then I thought that if I'm asking myself these questions, I bet someone else out there is asking them too. I can't claim I've found THE answer, or know THE magic to making it happen. I will gladly share what I'm doing to try to cope.

First, I acknowledge that I'm trying to cope. Right? Admit there's a problem...that's where all the "programs" start. Take a deep breath, and just throw it out there. Here, I'll go first:

I have a problem. I'm not satisfied or fulfilled with my job, it's keeping me stressed out, and I just plain don't like it.

See? not so hard. The key is that once you know what the problem is, you can look for ways to solve it.

I've already mentioned that walking away isn't an option. I've been testing the waters of the job market, but if I'm honest with myself, I'm not clear on what else I want to do right now, and even if I did, is the grass really greener on the other side? I kinda doubt that... so I'm stuck here for a while.

One path of coping I can take is to focus on the things I do like about my job.

1. I work with GREAT people. Most of them. A very high percentage of them even. They are smart, personable, and fun to work with. That in itself is a blessing. And going into battle work I'm glad we are on the same team.
2. I work in my PJs from home full time. Huge, huge perk! No commuting, just roll outta bed, through the kitchen for a cup of coffee, and into my office.
3. I work with some pretty cool clients. Yeah, a couple of them are real jerks, but for the most part, they are neat companies.

Another coping mechanism? I remind myself that I'm working to live, not living to work. I use this tool when I get emotionally wrapped up in my work, and have trouble closing the office door. I am not willing to sacrifice my personal life for what is essentially - a job. That's right, it's a job, not a career (really - do careers exist anymore??)

An excellent one for when the work is overwhelming, and I have no idea where to start tackling it? The work will be there in the morning. It isn't going anywhere, and I am doing my best to conquer the mountain. This one is big right now - as we continue to be under staffed. I try to make reasonable commitments, and then do my best to meet them. Doesn't always work... but I'm not interested in 12 to 14 hour days, week after week. Cuz that's what it would take to even make a dent.

One thing I've learned is that it's important to have other interests and places to spend your time. Try to choose something you're passionate about, and that makes it easier. For me, it's been volunteering with DFW Pug Rescue. Maybe for you it's volunteering with your church, or another organization like Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Meals on Wheels, or a group you were in during your college years (for me that was AKPsi!). Or any other worthy organization. Maybe it's crafting, or decorating, or creating. Or writing, or reading. Or yoga. Or a sport (playing, coaching or just watching) - kickball is BACK y'all!.

Whatever it is - take time to discover your passion. It might just save your sanity!

Oh, and one other thing to understand - your passion may change, and when it does, that's ok. Find what interests you, drives you, and makes you WANT to walk out of the office in the evenings.

One last tip - and this one may be obvious. Have a support system. A boyfriend/husband/girlfriend, friends, family - the bigger the better. Someone to support and sympathize with you through the tough days (gelato, anyone?), and to cheer with you in the good days. And someone to moan and gripe with - because so many of us are in the same boat, paddling upstream.

So what drags you out of bed each day? What drives your passion? How do you cope with a less-than-perfect work situation?

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