Do you feel a twinge of sadness or some other negative emotion (stress, anxiety, anger, frustration maybe) when Sunday rolls around because Monday is eminently coming sooner than you'd like and you have to be at work? Or maybe just the thought of work causes this little cloud of negativity that looms above your head wherever you go?
Some of us have had enough experience with this that we are at least aware that this is what's going on. Once awareness kicks in, you can do one of the following 3 things:
1. Ignore the circumstance, do nothing about it because you think you can't, and continue on
2. Change the circumstance
3. Change your perception of the circumstance
And here are the 3 outcomes when you choose each of these actions (or non-action):
1. This non-action inevitably leads to depression, and depending on how your brain is made up and how it's been trained throughout the years by you (meaning the thought patterns that your brain identifies with whether consciously or subconsciously), the level of depression and the onset of depression can vary.
2. This action has the best outcome if you do it right. Even if you can't make a big change right away, making smaller ones toward the outcome you want will give you the motivation to move on.
3. This action can also have a really good outcome if you do it right. However, this action requires practice and development of some good habits.
As an Integrative Wellness & Life Coach who has studied and practiced a plethora of tools and techniques to deal with career and work choices and the Sunday blues, as someone who has worked in the corporate world in a demanding industry, and as a mom who has spent the last 15 years in perhaps the most challenging, frustrating, demanding, emotional yet most rewarding job there is, I can confidently say that I have had a tremendous amount of experience in each of these 3 circumstances.
Here are some examples from my career timeline of when I experienced each of these 3 circumstances/outcomes starting from when I first entered college:
- Majored in Computer Science at UCI. Knowing that this was not my passion, but not knowing exactly what that was at the time either, I chose to continue my 4 years as best I could and receive my degree (#3 - change your perception)
- Upon graduating, I saw most of my peers getting technical jobs like programming. That was what paid the most. I knew I did not enjoy programming. As a matter of fact, in my senior group project to design a software program from inception to completion, I begged my team to let me write all 20+ volumes of documentation as long as I didn't have to write one line of code. To my surprise, they did not have any problem with this. Apparently, programmers love to write code but not words and sentences. So instead of interviewing for higher paying programming positions, I interviewed for technical writing jobs and customer support jobs. (#2 - change your circumstance)
- My first job out of college was with a small LAN (remember that acronym computer people? It stands for Local Area Network) company of about 150 people, located in beautiful Santa Barbara. I got hired as their new Customer Support Rep. I got paid on average about half of what programmers got paid back then. I was definitely sad about the lack of pay, and even had a tough time telling people what my job was because of it, maybe even a little ashamed, but guess what? I really loved my job. I got to talk to people on the phone everyday and help them with their issues. I got to create training material and train sales people how to use our products and services. I got to travel a little bit to conferences where I could interact with more people. And I got to work with a small team of really cool people on a daily basis. (#3 - change your perception)
- After only 1 year of doing this low-paying but very satisfying job, guess what happened? The big blue (IBM) called me up one day and asked me if I was still interested in working for them. I had submitted a resume to them after I graduated, but never heard back. Now they were starting a brand new software consulting organization, and they wanted to hire me as a Project Manager, for significantly more money than what I was currently making. Can you believe it? This was one of my first glimpses into what could happen when you are actually at a good place in your life. More good things happen. So of course I took the job, packed my bags and moved further north to the Bay area. (#3 - change your perception, followed by #2 - change your circumstance)
- My stint at IBM was long (13 years!) and boy, did I have some circumstances. I was young in my 20's when I first started as a PM, and I was almost immediately thrown into a potentially stressful situation working on $100k-2M customer consulting gigs after just a brief period of training.
The cool thing about working for IBM back then and this particular organization was because the company was doing so well financially then, we had the financial backing of a big successful company but the benefits of acting as a small company because we were a brand new organization embedded into a big one. But nevertheless, my job as a PM, especially at my age then, being a young female with little experience in a highly male dominated industry, was not easy. The PMs were teamed up with a technical person (the field SE, Systems Engineer) and together we went to customer sites to collect data from them, and then come back to present our findings and work on specific projects. As the PM I was responsible for giving presentations to our customers. I've been in a small room presenting in front of a group of men old enough to be my fathers and maybe even grandfathers, and I've been in an auditorium presenting in front of an audience of 100+ IT professionals.
Needless to say, I learned a lot in those first several years at IBM, especially throughout the more challenging times (fear of speaking in front of men who some had no respect for me just because of my age/sex and maybe even race, fear of speaking in such a large venue, anxiety from not having enough technical knowledge, etc). So I believed that I had no choice but to change my perception of who I was and what I was capable of each and every time. (#3 - change your perception)
- My last several years at IBM can best be described as an emotional roller-coaster.
I moved over to the software group after our consulting group got engulfed by a bigger division, and was working as a new Program Manager for the software group, but my management team was located in Raleigh, NC. I did not like my job because I was essentially working by myself back in CA. Also, I felt underpaid.
So I quit IBM and went to work for Sun Microsystems, and got a huge increase in salary as a result. Loved the cool, casual vibe at Sun, and the job was fine, but the commute was not fun. So when IBM called me almost a year later and wanted to re-hire me but with a huge increase in salary and a promoted position as Sr. Marketing Manager, I jumped on it. They told me that they re-org'd and my team was all local now, and that they realized that I was the only one who could possibly work with this 'other guy'. He would be the marketing strategist, and I would be the marketing executor/implementer. I was on cloud 9. Felt so pumped and ready to make some real improvements. But little did I know, this guy, my marketing partner, turned out to be a narcissistic, manipulative, conniving, insecure person.
My hopes and dreams of what we could do together as a team was shattered. I fell into a depression. I dreaded going to work each day. I lost all zest for life even outside of work. I could not feel other people's zest or cheerfulness. After some period of time of ignoring the circumstance because I felt helpless, I started to take small steps to help myself through this. I saw my physician who diagnosed me as having depression. I saw a psychologist and read self-help books. I submitted my resume to other companies. I eventually got a new job with a small company who paid more and was a healthier environment for me. (#1 - ignore it, #2 - change your circumstance)
So you see, I've had my experiences with these 3 types of circumstances. It actually pains me to see someone go through #1 because I know what the outcome looks like. Sure, #2 and #3 require more work, perhaps, but they are so much more healthier for you. Which one would you rather see in your work life? I can tell you that after my experiences and as a wellness and life coach, I do not recommend #1 to anyone. Not in your work life, and not in your personal life. And if you need help in getting the outcome you want from #2 or #3, I'm here to help you.