When we find ourselves in a situation doing work out of alignment with who we are it can be an awful experience.
It tends to color everything else in our lives.
However, sometimes the problem isn’t the job.
Sometimes the problem is us.
When I was working in a job that drained me both emotionally and mentally I would come home with, what my mom used to call, a B.A.
I know what you’re thinking.
Why were you carpooling with B.A. Baracus?
Although it would have been cool to ride share with Mr. T, I’m afraid it’s something worse.
A bad attitude.
I knew I had to make a change but I couldn’t figure out what to do or how to do it.
At the time I blamed my dislike for my job on the job. Certainly it was a stressful and emotionally draining job.
However, looking back I realize I was allowing my circumstances to dictate my level of happiness and enjoyment of life.
Since then I’ve gone on to discover, as Dan Miller says, “happiness is very much an inner game.”
When we allow circumstances to control our level of happiness we’re very vulnerable.
If our happiness and contentment is based on the sun being out we’ll find ourselves in trouble on a cloudy day.
When we decide in advance we’re going to be happy we have taken control of our mood and only we can decide if we’re going to be happy or not.
Now I’m not saying we can all just put a smile on our face and everything’s cool.
That seems a bit naive.
What I am saying is that we have control over how we look at our circumstances and where we focus our thinking.
So how do we change our thinking in order to handle the inevitable ups and downs of life?
Ask Better Questions
One of the best things we can do is begin to ask better questions.
A really great question we can ask ourselves when something negative happens is this (hat tip to Michael Hyatt):
“What does this experience make possible?”
Do you see the benefit of this question?
Asking this question moves you from thinking about the past – which you can’t do anything about- to thinking about the future.
Most times there are positive things you would never have experienced if you didn’t have the negative circumstance.
The challenge lies in being able to see those positive benefits even when you’re hurting inside.
Keep A Gratitude Journal
When you start writing down what you’re grateful for it shifts your thinking.
Changing your focus from what you don’t have to what you already have changes everything.
My wife recently wrote a children’s’ book and designed accompanying gratitude journals. As a result my family and I have started keeping a family gratitude journal.
I can tell you since we started this process I have felt more happy than I ever have in my life.
The same can happen for you.
Keep a gratitude journal for 21 days and see if you’re not more happy, productive, and moving closer to your career goals than you were before.
If you’re struggling with being able to enjoy your work it will be a life changing shift to move the problem from “out there” to “in here.”
You may still need to make a move to change careers if you’re work isn’t an authentic fit for you.
However, the good news is when it’s “in here” you’re the one who decides when the sun comes out.