Do the Sunday Blues start to sneak up on you as your weekend winds down?
Maybe you find yourself imagining all the ways you could avoid going back to work on Monday morning?
If so, I can definitely relate.
Thinking about going back to work after a day off used to put a pit in my stomach.
For me, that consistent pit in my stomach was one of many signs that my role wasn’t a good fit.
It’s normal to experience the Sunday Blues from time to time throughout the year. But no one wants to feel that sinking feeling week after week.
Sometimes you find yourself in a role that's not the right fit, but you're not ready or able to make an immediate career change.
If you're wondering how to navigate that without feeling miserable by the end of the day, you're in the right place.
Here's what we'll tackle in this two-part series:
In this first post, I'll tell you about a time I felt stuck in a role that was a bad fit. (You might be able to relate to pieces of it, and I hope that's helpful!) I'll also explain how a small change in thinking made me happier at work.
In the next post, I’ll share the exact questions I asked myself to tap into what was most energizing about my job, and teach you how to use this strategy to help you feel more satisfied while you're in a less-than-perfect position.
Sound helpful? Read on, friend...
The first time I experienced consistent Sunday Blues, I was working as a retail sales manager. It was my first job out of college.
In hindsight, I didn’t put a lot of thought into whether or not it would be a good fit. The main reason I accepted the job was that they extended an early job offer and I was relieved to wrap up my job search. I feel a little sheepish about that now, but it's true! (Oh, the lessons you learn early in your career...)
As you might expect, retail hours were long and erratic. Especially during the holiday season. I worked a lot of nights and weekends, and it was rare to get two days off in a row. That made it tricky to make commitments outside of work or spend time with friends and family.
While I was working I wore a walky-talky, it was a constant stream of calls for assistance buzzing in my ear. I’d hustle from one issue to the next and put out fires. I liked to problem-solve in tricky situations, but dealing with upset customers day after day took its toll. Especially when they yelled at our employees.
Seeing the truckloads of clothes come in week after week also bummed me out. I felt like there was already enough “stuff” in the world, and imagined the piles of sweaters ending up in landfills when their quality gave out or the next trend took over.
The main responsibilities of the job drained me. At the same time, I noticed that many of the other sales managers throughout the company genuinely enjoyed the job. And they seemed to thrive working in retail.
So the role was a good fit for a lot of people.
But I knew that it wasn’t a good fit for me.
I felt stuck. I didn’t want to jump from one unhappy situation to another. Or quit without a plan. But I had no idea what my options were, or what I wanted to do next.
So I did all I knew how to do - I stuck it out.
I took my achieving personality, groomed from years of school, and applied it to work. I met my goals, developed my team, was even promoted a few times.
I made it a point to keep up a good attitude while I was at work. And on the surface, it looked like a successful trajectory. But it certainly didn't feel like it. I hid the fact that I was actually pretty miserable.
Maybe you’ve been in a similar situation? You knew your role had lost its loving feeling, but you weren't sure what do, so you waited it out? If so, then you know it can feel draining and discouraging.
Things went on like this until one day I had a genuine Aha! Moment.
That's Oprah-speak for one of those rare experiences where something very simple and true occurs to you in the most obvious way. "Aha! Of course! It all makes sense now."
It's cheesy, but it felt like pure clarity.
What was this breakthrough?
I realized that I was focusing most of my time and energy on all of the things that I disliked about my job...the erratic schedule that kept me from taking a writing class each week, the cranky customers who sometimes made people cry, and the seemingly endless supply of goods that people wanted but didn't really need.
Those were all legitimate factors that made the job a poor fit for me. However, focusing on them just reinforced my unhappiness.
Sounds obvious, right? (You probably saw the writing on the wall as you read my story. )
But it was surprisingly hard for me to see when I was in the middle of it.
With this new awareness, I realized that it was time to change my focus.
My goal wasn't to fall in love with my job - I knew I needed to find a new path. But I didn't want to feel miserable in the meantime.
So instead of zeroing in on what made me unhappy about my job, I knew it was important to start noticing what I specifically enjoyed – no matter how small.
I tried to pay attention to the moments where I felt energized at work.
How can you tune into those moments?
Try this tip: Pick a day to notice what energizes you at work. What are you doing when you lose track of time? Write it down, and review your list at the end of the week.
Then in Part Two of this series, we'll take your list a step further. Plus you'll learn how to create a personal mission statement that help can help you feel more satisfied in a less-than-perfect position.
What energizes you most about your current role? I geek out about this type of thing, and I'd love to hear from you! Drop me a quick email at email@example.com.
Please note: In this post, I've focused on roles that simply aren't a good fit. I'm not talking about situations where you're experiencing discrimination, emotional abuse, or a violation of your rights. If you're in a situation like that, this blog post doesn't apply. If you need help and you're not sure where to turn, this list of resources from the American Bar Association may be a useful starting place. You're not alone.