We spend most of our time at our jobs, which is reason enough to believe this is a very important aspect of our lives to get right. And yet many of us still suffer from job dissatisfaction and have an unhealthy relationship with our careers. From a young age we are encouraged to ‘choose’ for our foreseeable future, what we will be undertaking in most of our time. With very little life experience we make the best decision we can, and then oftentimes, experience many of what Brene Brown teams ‘Facedown in the arena’ moments. Where once we chose one career and stuck to it for decades, now the Millennials are known to have many careers and jobs throughout their lifetime.
So what’s the right answer? I used to think it was the typical motivational spiel of ‘just find your passion and go for it!’. While that may work for some, I have watched many friends and family potter through life with no single passion, trying various occupations, and still being completely content with their lives. It wasn’t until I watched Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk on Oprah Winfrey’s ‘Soul Sessions’ that this truly made a lot of sense. Liz fell under the ‘find your passion and go for it’ category- of which she called the ‘Jackhammers’- knowing she wanted to be a writer from a very young age. While a lot of her friends and family were ‘Hummingbirds’. While there is nothing wrong with Jackhammers, there is equally as little ‘wrongness’ with Hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are those that try a little of a lot of things, creating a rich history of lessons and stories in their wake. Some of the most wise and interesting people she has met have been Hummingbirds, for the diversity and uncertainty of their rainbow-coloured lives.
Following your curiosity
For the Jackhammers of the world, it would seem that the way to a successful and fulfilling life and career is true as they say- follow your passion and just go for it. However, for the Hummingbirds, things never seem so simple, and yet Liz’s advice was just that: follow your curiosity. Move with it, explore, make mistakes, take what seem to be ‘wrong turns’ and enjoy the journey.
Careers can impact our lives with stress, performance expectations, responsibility, management changes and so much more. Workplace stress can easily have a knock on effect into family and personal life. Even "dream jobs" can at times be seen as 'stressful'. You may find yourself continually concerned about a particular project, feel unfairly treated by a supervisor or co-workers, or knowingly accept more than you can handle in hopes of earning a promotion. Putting your job ahead of everything else can also affect your personal relationships, compounding the work-related pressures.
Job stress frequently leads to burnout, a condition marked by emotional exhaustion and negative or cynical attitudes toward others and yourself. Burn out can greatly contribute to the perpetual cycle of more workplace stress and also create compassion fatigue.
Job stress > Burnout
Burnout > Workplace Stress
> Compassion Fatigue- Most common in caring roles e.g. nursing, counselling etc.
> Depression- reduces immunity to other illnesses, potentially lead to premature death
> Other symptoms similar to depression and anxiety – erratic eating habits, insufficient exercise > weight problems, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels.
The health of blue-collar and manual workers is particularly concerning due to perceived low rewards, a hostile work environment, and long hours. Studies suggest that because these employees tend to have little control over their work environments, they are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those in traditional "white collar" jobs.
Fortunately, there are many ways to help manage job-related stress. Some programs blend relaxation techniques with nutrition and exercise. Others focus on specific issues such as time management, assertiveness training, and improving social skills.
Here are some tips for reducing workplace stress -
Supervision Every month organise a meeting with a 'supervisor'. This individual can be a respected peer, or professional psychologist, counsellor or business coach. Use this time to discuss what is happening for you and explore strategies that can be implemented. Reflection is a great tool and can really assist in deepening our understanding of a different perspective.
Workday breaks Create 10 minutes of "personal time" to refresh your mental outlook. Take a brief walk, chat with a co-worker about a non-job topic or simply sit practice mindfulness for 5 minutes and slow your breathing down
Down Time Between work hours and returning home we can create a space that could enable us to relax and calm the nervous system. I like to sit in the park for 15 minutes, listen to podcasts, sit quietly and drive mindfully.
Weekends Away Plan regular trips away, drive to the beach, waterfall or bushwalk. These activities can get us back to nature and reduce the environmental toxic load on our nervous system