Taking Control of Your Comfortable Misery at Work

Taking Control of Your Comfortable Misery at Work

Taunee Besson, CMF, CareerCast.com Senior Columnist

Question: I read your column “Are You Suffering From Comfortable Misery?” and realized that I have a self-inflicted "Comfortable Misery Syndrome". I am ready to cure myself and get on with my life. How do I do it?

Answer: Good for you! Making this decision is a critical first step. Here are two thoughts to keep foremost in your mind:

1) Ask your friends and family to support and compliment your newfound motivation. Give them the chance to be your cheerleaders. This one deserves special attention, because it will serve to heal some of the wounded relationships your “Comfortable Misery” has produced. Recognizing that you haven’t been alone in suffering from your syndrome may be your greatest motivator.

Comfortable Misery” can inflict terrible consequences on its victims’ cherished relationships and long-term happiness. The immediate depression, lack of self-esteem and lost opportunities for which this insidious malady is responsible, are only the tip of the iceberg. People who hate their work often carry hostile feelings into their personal lives where they infect their family and friends. They take out their career frustration on innocent victims at home. Or, their broken-record complaining drives a wedge between them and their loved ones.

If you’ve ever been the target of an unhappy careerist’s wrath or the dumpee for your spouse’s or friend’s ongoing job angst, you know that a little self-centered negativity goes a long way. Even family and friends can lose patience with a chronic complainer who shows no interest in taking responsibility for improving his situation.

2) Act now to find that satisfying career. Remember the old cliché, “There’s a reason they call now ‘the present’. It’s a gift. “ Haunting recriminations at age fifty or sixty about “what could have been” come too late to recapture years spent marking time in a meaningless career. As 9/11, the Japanese Tsunami and a friend who died too young remind us, time is one commodity we cannot replenish.

Fortunately, “Comfortable Misery” is curable. There are a number of ways to extricate yourself from its grasp, if you are willing to declare tomorrow as the first day of the rest of your life. Now is the time to climb out of your cash-covered rut and get on with your life. You can find a satisfying career change without declaring a vow of poverty. In the words of Nike, “Just do it!”

All of the actions below will move your forward:

  • Start networking. Join a professional organization. Get involved in your church or a nonprofit group that interests you. Acquaint yourself with one new person per week.
  • Volunteer for a cross-functional taskforce at work. Suggest and implement a new project that will stretch your skills and benefit your company.
  • Begin looking for a more satisfying career within or outside your company. If you don’t know how to get started read a book, attend a job search course or work with a career counselor.
  • Confront your catastrophic expectations. Contemplate your worst job change scenario. Put a percent probability on it and then plan to deal with the situation in the unlikely event it should occur.
  • Get some continuing education on subjects that interest you. Take a course to learn or reinforce an important job skill. Expand your horizons.
  • Acknowledge that your career is one of the most important ways to fulfill your mission or purpose in life. Rather than thinking of work as penance or a necessary evil, use it as a vehicle to make a contribution to society that stirs your soul.

Senior Columnist Taunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979 that works with individual and corporate clients in career transition, job search, executive coaching, talent management and small business issues. She is an award-winning columnist for CareerJournal.com and a best-selling author of the Wall Street Journal's books on resumes and cover letters. Her articles on a variety of career issues have appeared on numerous career/job websites and trade and business journals. Ms. Besson has been quoted numerous times in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money, and a number of other websites and publications.

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