Toward the end of my ad agency career, I had an experience that was a classic turning point, one that allowed me for the first time to realize I could set my own priorities.
In a relatively small shop, I’d gained a reputation as a “fixer,” able to take an account with a difficult client, stabilize it, and sometimes even grow it. This wasn’t always much fun, but it did provide a certain satisfaction, and I gained both people skills and extra business and marketing skills.
So, one more time, the VP I reported to assigned me a truly troubled account with a personality-disordered client. After a few months of abuse, I spent an evening in tears because I finally had the courage to ask myself, “What am I getting out of this?” The final straw of this unusually abusive client had caused me to look at the full picture and come to grips with everything that I had been tolerating in my job and my career.
We tolerate stuff, and it has a cost. We’ve made a deal with ourselves that we’re willing to trade what’s paining or bothering us (or even just not satisfying us) in return for some security (like salary and benefits) or perhaps the “safety” of staying in our comfort zone. It can be really hard to step into the bright light of taking a hard look at what it’s doing to our physical and mental health, peace of mind, and happiness. Life is short, as we’ve all come to grips with in the past two years.
These things were in my “I am tolerating this” inventory. Do they resonate with you?
A loss of connection with the mission of the job, company, or organization.
A manager or boss who doesn’t stand up for the people who make things run.
Realizing that where you’ve been going is no longer a destination that’s meaningful to you.
A lack of alignment in values with the people you work with, possibly through their ethics, words, or actions .
A depletion of learning or expansion – just coasting along, no longer adding to your growth either professionally or personally.
An uninspiring environment, not a pleasant place to be while working.
A strong sense that there’s a deferred dream or another calling that’s waiting for you.
The next chapter of my own story was leaving that job before I had another one. I don’t recommend that for everyone, but at the time it gave me the breathing space I needed to reconnect with what was important to me. And my next job started me on the path to my right work in coaching and supporting others through their career and livelihood transitions.
In the same way that Marie Kondo guides us to purge those physical objects that do not bring us joy, we can think in the new year about the situations or conditions in our lives that we tolerate in spite of the discomfort they bring us.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and I are providing just such a space to explore these and other issues. On this coming Tuesday evening, Jan. 4, from 7:00-8:30 PM Central, we are hosting a Life & Livelihood Small Group Coaching session. This 90-minute gathering will allow people to air their questions, issues, and wonderings. It’s a preview for our Your Right Livelihood class starting Jan. 23. Check out the small group coaching here. We hope you’ll consider joining us, and it could be just the thing to do for yourself in this new year.