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Charles Sophy, D.O. Headshot

What's the Situation With Your Work... 'Situation'?

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It's February, the holiday season is long over, and right about now you're probably settled into a yearly bout of, "Oh, great. Back to real life!" Rest assured, you're not alone. I experience it, my patients experience it, nearly everyone experiences it in one form or another. And while there are a lot of contributing factors to this feeling of dread, including, but not limited to, recounting the number of cookies you consumed, fatigue from lost sleep due to aunt Myrtle's snoring, and slightly blurred vision from an 80-hour week of forced football and movie watching, it's my experience that nothing snaps you into a funk quite like entering back into your work... "situation."

I'm guessing you fall into one of two groups:

Group A
You have a job(s). This includes being a full-time parent, a full-time student and other commitments of this nature. Trust me, they're jobs!

Group B
You don't have a job.

Assuming that we're considering people in the workforce and everyone in the workforce wants a job. If you're in Group B you're looking for a change.

If you're in Group A, you're either completely happy with your job or also looking for a change. Judging by a recent Gallup Poll that found 87 percent of employees are unhappy at work, 24 percent of whom are "actively disengaged," which means they are truly unhappy and unproductive. I would say that most of us are looking for at least a slight change.

A change can mean switching jobs, but it can also be altering your work environment, your relationships, and your mindset. Work is the W in S.W.E.E.P. and is key to feeling fulfilled and staying in balance. Stop telling yourself that everyone else hates their job too and do something about yours!

Here are a few red flags that you and your job might not be a great fit for each other:

1. You are constantly bored. If your job doesn't interest you at all, it's time to find one that does.

2. You don't respect your boss. How can you work for someone you don't respect? This applies to professionally AND personally.

3. You aren't appreciated. If you're doing great work that is being ignored or taken for granted, maybe it's time to find another company that understands the benefits of positive feedback.

4. Your hours are inhumane. We only live once. If you're working 80+ hour weeks that are keeping you from actually having a life, maybe it's time to put that job on your resume and find one that affords you a little "me" time. You will be happier and healthier, I promise.

The list goes on from there. No need to overthink it. You know if you're in a toxic work situation -- just be honest with yourself. You're not alone. The average person spends 19 hours a week worrying about what their boss thinks of them, according to one survey. Six of those hours are on the weekend!

While I'm telling you to be honest with yourself, I'm not advising you to go into work tomorrow and leave a dead fish on your boss' desk with a note that reads "I quit, jerk!" It's not always easy to find another job, so your first plan of action should be to try and mend your current job "situation."

CALM is an acronym taught to me by workplace expert Lynn Taylor (you can also thank her research for most of these statistics). It provides a great set of guidelines for making the best out of any work environment.

C -- Communicate -- Don't hold each and every concern or grievance you have inside until it explodes out of you in an aggressive rant. Address them as they happen and it will be an enormous weight off your shoulders.
A -- Anticipate -- More specifically, anticipate problems. Be vigilant and when you find one, don't go to your boss with a problem, go with the solution!
L -- Levity -- Laughter breaks down boundaries. If you can laugh at work, the workday is going to feel a whole lot shorter.
M -- Manage -- Set limits, prioritize, use both positive and negative reinforcement. Take control of your work and your relationships and make sure they are on your terms.

Following these four easy steps you'll get a much better understanding of whether your job is right for you.

Whatever you choose to do, remember, this is your life. It's not involuntary servitude. You get to choose! Make the decision that's best for you and your family and never look back.

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