What is it with work?
Somehow, for most of us, whatever type of work we do, work is chock full of challenges. We no sooner get one challenge sorted, than another one appears. Apparently endlessly.
So here are some of the types of challenges we've all faced at one time or another (or perhaps simultaneously):
For some of us the work itself is the problem:
- perhaps work is uninspiring, unfulfilling, a burden that doesn't match our values.
- perhaps our jobs aren't a good match for our skills, talents and experience.
- perhaps the sheer volume of work is overwhelming requiring long days, taking work home and just never seeing your family.
For some of us the work culture or conditions don't match our style very well:
- perhaps we don't have enough autonomy and don't feel ownership over our roles.
- perhaps we have not got enough instructions to complete our roles well.
- perhaps we have too much travel, or not enough, or the commute is too long, or we never have a chance to get outdoors.
For some of us our work colleagues become the sticking point:
- perhaps its a boss who micromanages or any of the other things bosses do.
- perhaps it's colleagues who you simply don't like.
- perhaps it's colleagues who bully or harass.
Make or break
Challenges at work can make or break us.
At best workplace challenges are a source of personal growth. They allow us to develop our strength and resilience as we rise above each challenge we meet. That's the good side.
At worst they put a strain on our mental health and can lead to problems such as stress, anxiety and depression.
Depression and related mental health disorders are common in life and at work. Around 1 in 6 of us will experience depression at some stage of our lives, stress or other mental conditions cause more than 15% of workplace illness.
So it's important we are smart about meeting our challenges, and smart about protecting our mental health, and smart about helping our colleagues and friends too.
The secret life of work
Whatever the issues are, whatever our challenges, we need to face them with grace, or we risk them destroying us. We need to draw on our internal reserves, coping skills and resilience to rise above the challenges and come out the other side stronger. But it's not easy. Not easy at all.
Some of us naturally meet challenges head on and flourish. Some of us struggle and struggle. But there is hope. In any situation there is always hope.
Remember, whatever your challenges are, whether its the work itself, the work culture, your colleagues, you can't change those at all. It's impossible to change anything but yourself and your response to your challenges.
So make this your priority. Do everything you can to change yourself and change your responses. Get whatever help you need to do this. Hire an executive coach, tap into your mentors, get counselling. Whatever works for you.
And then you might discover the secret life of work (the secret life of everything really): When you change, when your responses change, the challenges themselves also change. They have to. It's like the butterfly flapping its wings in Mexico changing the weather on the other side of the world. Suddenly you'll find yourself empowered, enriched, and stronger. Way more than you ever thought possible.
Every situation is different and every person is different. But there are some simple things that you can start to build into your life that can help you meet your challenges, help you work on changing yourself and your responses. They'll help you protect your mental health too.
It's true, we've all read these things many times before (and yes I've said them before) but they are so important. If we can make these things habit, we'll have so much more capacity for the people and things we really love. So why not set yourself a challenge to adopt just one small change from this list. Try it for one week and see how you feel. Come on – which one will it be?
- Exercise regularly – and make it worth it. Be imaginative, find a solution that works for you. But no excuses, exercise you must.
- Eat well – this means breakfast and lunch.
- Get enough sleep
- Drink less alcohol
- Stop smoking
- Be more mindful at work
- Learn how to breathe and relax
- Say thank you, even for small things
- Do acts of kindness, even small ones
- Build connections with colleagues – they can help support you when things get tough
- Ask for help from someone you trust a friend, colleague or mentor.
- Focus on solutions.
- Remember you can't change the challenges, only your response.
For many people these strategies are enough to protect their mental health and allow them to flourish at work. But for some people, this is not enough and professional help is needed. There are many ways health professionals can help you manage your emotions, moods and mental health. Talk to your doctor or other health professional such as a counsellor or a psychologist if:
- you feel you are not managing your stress levels
- you can't control feelings of anxiety
- you are worried about your mood.
This article was first published at: http://snapconnectinspire.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/the-secret-life-of-work/