A Wade Lowe creation – Thankfully, this isn’t my current situation. However, I’ve been there many times. Luckily, the answer is always the same, and it will likely surprise you. Whether it was painting doors as a maintenance man during summer breaks, selling plastic bottle caps for a large plastics manufacturer (no joke, it’s a big business), lifeguarding during Christmas breaks in Florida, tarping roofs after hurricanes, running my own business, or closing big deals for different companies, there would always come a point where I would realize: I hated what I was doing.
If nothing else, the chatter was consistent and predictable. This is so boring. I don’t care about the conversation I’m having with you right now. Who gives a shit about plastic bottle caps. This job isn’t fulfilling. I have no passion for this. There is nothing meaningful about what I’m doing. I should be getting paid more. That other company looks interesting. I bet its better over “there”. If they would just do “this” (fill in the blank) I would enjoy it more. On and on and on and on… until finally I would convince myself this place sucks and I’d be better off somewhere else. Then poof, I would start looking and be gone in a month. Sometimes it took less than a year for the chatter to start, sometimes five years, but the outcome was always the same.
It’s Never the Job
This hasn’t happened recently and I’ll share with you why. It’s never about the job. EVER. Ok, let me explain. In short, if I hate anything it’s never about the thing, it’s always about me. Dr. Wayne Dyer gives a very powerful example of this when he tells a story about what happens when you squeeze an orange. It bleeds orange juice. Naturally, right? Every time, and it will never be different. Ever.
Well, what happens when you squeeze a person who isn’t satisfied with themselves? You get hate. Or bitterness, or self pity, or anger, or cynicism, or sadness, or whatever negative state of being that person habitually defaults to. The circumstances may have changed, but the person didn’t, and they wonder why they are in the exact same situation they’ve been in for the last however long. This was my story, for much longer that I like to admit, but it’s the truth. I lived long stretches of my life in an emotional Groundhogs Day. Circumstances were different, but I was always dissatisfied and looking for something better.
What to Do
I’m not naïve and I understand that sometimes a situation is literally toxic. My experience shows that is the exception though, rather than the rule. Only you can make that determination. But, even if it is toxic and causing me discomfort, it’s because I’m allowing it to affect me (see above EVER). I make the decision to let things bother me or not, this empowers me and gets me out of the victim role, which is a very self-defeating role to play.
My recommendation, and what I do myself, if I feel I “hate” something, whether it be a job, a relationship, myself or any situation is this: Pause, take an inventory, then determine what I need to do to improve the situation. Here are the questions I ask myself:
- Why am I bothered? (Real reason, not related to what someone else is “doing”)
- Am I not getting what I want?
- Am I acting in a way that I’m expecting other people to act?
- Will I remember this in 1 month, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?
- What decisions did I make that lead to this situation?
- Moving forward, what different decisions can I make to prevent similar situations?
- Am I happy with who I am today?
- What do I need to work on to prevent these situations from occurring in the future?
- Who do I need to become so that I’m not bothered by outside circumstances?
- What can I do to improve the situation?
These are a few questions that help me get clarity on the situation. They also help me see that I have the ability to change the situation or the way it is affecting me. Your questions will likely be different. What I think will be the same is the revelation that if something is “causing” you difficulty, it’s more likely you than the situation. What I’ve noticed is the only common denominator for all the things that are bothersome in my life is me. Period. As hard as that is to swallow at times it’s actually very powerful, because I realize if who I am caused the situation, than who I can become can improve the situation.
If you’ve really reflected and looked at yourself first, and feel you need to make a change, then by all means, make the change. But my recommendation is that you change first before making a major change. Otherwise, whatever change you make will land you in exactly the same spot you’re in now, with slightly different circumstances.
Give it shot and let me know how it works for you.