Corporate 'life' is a nasty oxymoron.
Jam-packed days, endless demands to do more with less, impossible goals, rally the troops, jump on a plane. Miss your kid's birthday.
You know these painful facts all too well. An existence? Yes. A path to a paycheck? Certainly. But, a life? A well-balanced, appropriately challenged life? No way.
Is it any wonder that you are filled with dreams of escape? You're not alone. Recent Conference Board surveys reveal that:
These surveys validate the Gallup Employee Engagement Index Poll which finds that a majority, or 54% of workers are "not engaged" with the objectives of their organization. Even worse, 17% of employees are considered actively disengaged - to the point of undermining what their engaged co-workers accomplish.
Why, then, do so many professionals stay in jobs they dislike so intensely?
The obvious answer is the pay and the perks. But the real reasons go deeper, and involve the dynamics of fear, procrastination and the challenge of finding the voice that shouts "I deserve better!"
In our Western culture, we learn early to conform. Not that this is always bad, but it holds up the larger group as the ideal, and ignores one's personal style and values - which lie at the heart of being fulfilled in work and life.
This conformity is re-enforced as we're urged to 'get a steady job'. We're rewarded for being a team player, and by default, to feel a little guilty if we exhibit behavior that serves our own desires. Before you know it, the familiarity of co-workers and routine creates a warped kind of comfort zone that causes you to suck it up day after day. After all, pain often feels better than S-C-A-R-E-Y old change.
Pretty soon, blaming the corporation becomes a way of life. It's satisfying to be right, to join your colleagues in those misery-loves-company, finger-pointing moments. There is an endless stock pile of urgent work...and not every manager is a gifted leader. While venting has some value, this is a good example of what psychologists call "learned helplessness" on the part of employees who feel powerless to make even small changes to improve their working lives.
Finally, there's the sobering "How do I begin to fix this?" challenge. Like the deer in headlights, there seem to be many directions to move. How do I choose? What are the consequences? How long will it take? Not knowing these answers is one more reason for stoically marching in place.
It's rough. But the answer doesn't lie in settling for more of the same. Fulfillment requires a shift in perception that shouts "I deserve better!" And the conviction that it is entirely permissible to go after what you want.
Unfortunately, no magic formula can deliver an ideal working life. The answer is different for each of you. To explore that answer, follow these simple steps:
There are many ways to improve your working life -- and all of them are rooted in your willingness to grant a small bit of magnificence to your life and shout "I'm worth it!" All by itself, your decision to explore is empowering and, potentially, life-changing.
Patricia Soldati is a former President and COO of a national finance organization who re-invented her working life in 1999. As a career fulfillment specialist, she helps corporate professionals enhance their working lives - both by staying within the organization - and by leaving it behind. She has recently been selected as thought leader for a major workplace issues website. To receive her complimentary eBook, Career Fulfillment Is Possible! 50 Tips For A Better Working Life, visit Purposeful Work