I hope your summer is going better than planned. With longer days, the workload has been ramping up as well–and that’s not a complaint. Also with extended daylight, I’m inclined to go out and enjoy the company of others. Last week I overheard someone say that though it’s just now July, for them, summer is basically over. I understand if your schedule basically revolves around the educational calendar, that might seem true. Despite a pretty soggy start, weather-wise, we still have at least eight more weeks (and possibly twelve!) before the shift to considerably cooler temps.
But why am I talking about the weather? There was a time when I let it rule my life—my attitude and emotions and the course of any given day. I’m no longer the person that rails against cloudy days or becomes depressed because it’s raining. I admit to getting a big vitamin D boost when the sun is shining, that’s how we’re designed. But when I stopped letting my attitude and my mood hinge on the random weather patterns, I had far more control over the quality of my life.
Circumstances are not a good predictor or attitude.
What does it take for you to be happy? What things affect your attitude? When I realized that those were balls in my court every day that was a major shift in thinking for me.
In the recent past, I worked at an unpleasant job, a less than ideal shift, time at a point in the year where I wanted to be somewhere else. From 11a to 8p starting in May and running through September, I was shut in a cubicle farm inside an office. It would turn out to be one of the most beautiful summers that year, loads of sun, great breezes and picture perfect weather patterns that idyllic summer memories are made from. My very soul ached to be out enjoying it.
Despite this, I had bigger reasons for working. It was my first job after a decade-plus absence from the workforce. My then-husband had already been out of work for two years. Summer or no, I needed to be there.
I could have driven myself crazy bemoaning my situation, reminding myself (and anyone who would listen) this is time we’ll never get back. I could have made a caustic remark every day driving the point home over and over and making that the focus of my thoughts. My husband was already livid that I had taken a job. Our marriage was bouldery (rocks don’t do it justice). The first weeks were painful and a deep depression loomed.
However, it seemed stupid to complain about beautiful weather. If I could shift my focus to something that helped me get through the day… The first step was a small adjustment. A nearby walking trail led in two directions. I went for walks which helped me clear my head and I took all of my lunch breaks outside.
The pay wasn’t bad and I thanked God that it was keeping us afloat. The work wasn’t hard but it required attention to detail. I changed my diet to avoid energy slumps and maintain high-level focus for extended periods of time. I felt great and even lost weight.
These little habits, seeking the good, being grateful and focusing on the benefit, served me well in the following years. However, it didn’t take me long to realize the position would be temporary.
Again, instead of complaining, I wrestled with the vision of an ideal job, ideal workplace, ideal hours and streams of income instead of a single source. Ideas began to present themselves, some feasible some not, but I entertained them all. It began a process of self-discovery and comradery with other “non-conformists” creating their own jobs.
The office job ended sooner than I had planned, but another job—a day job with bonuses, my own office area with a view—opened up within days. I still wasn’t where I wanted to be, but now I was developing a workable plan.
What does this mean for you?
Creating a viable writing business and launching it were still quite a few years down the road for me. But by changing my response to the circumstances around me, I was able to start figuring out what did for me, what I enjoyed, what my strengths were and build on them. Opportunities for growth presented themselves every year and brought with them different people and different influences. By staying in tough jobs, I gained new skills for my tool belt to use in my own business. By working in a small business environment, I learned a lot about running a small business.
Do you find yourself in a tough environment right now? What’s good about where you work? What does this job give you, or allow you to do that is important to you? Maybe it’s the flex time or the pay structure, or even interacting with clients.
What are the immediate benefits that outweigh some negative aspects of your job? It could be the pay, the vacation package, or bonus opportunities. I knew one man who stayed in his demanding job because he was allowed a 30-day vacation every year.
And possibly most valuable of all, what are you learning that will translate into a benefit in your own future business?
It’s my hope that even if you’re not working in your ideal job today, you can begin to envision what it will look like and count your daily blessings in the meantime. If you can find a way to be grateful for what you currently have, you will be surprised to see what opens up before you in the coming weeks.
I’d love to hear about your journey, your challenges, and victories. Please share comments in the box below!