dreamstimefree_285051You’ve had it with your job, and you’re too stressed to think about what you’re having for dinner, let alone what you’re going to do about your career. You barely can find the energy to binge-watch Blacklist. Well, maybe you’ll manage that.

Don’t you wish you could sit down long enough to figure out your next move and get out of your shitty job?

Coaches go on and on about stress relief, don’t we, as if you’re only stressed because you don’t meditate. Right. But there’s a very real chance that, no matter how Zen you are, you’re overworked. According to a 2014 Gallup poll, the average American works 47 hours a week, almost a full work day more than the 9-5 Dolly Parton song.

If you want to make a change in your work life, this is the first thing you’ve got to contend with, and it’s not pretty.

So what to do?

Relax, Just a Little

You’ve got no time. I know. You’ve gotta get out. I work with so many clients who say they’ll relax when they get that next job, but for now, every free moment has to be spent job hunting. But successful job hunts don’t work that way. You need focus to do it right, and you can’t focus if you’re running in four directions at once. Find one thing that relaxes you, and try doing it 20 minutes a day for the next week. And no, it can’t be television. It needs to be something that gives you extra bandwidth for thinking. I knit. I have a friend who goes fishing even when they can’t locate their bait (they just sit on the dock and stare at the water). And yes, I know people for whom yoga and meditation work, too. Find your thing and do it.

Picture It

You’re getting the hang of relaxing.  You managed this week to create Playdough sculptures of your boss and pummel them with your fist. Relaxing! Now, spend some of that time picturing how you’ll feel when you’ve got your new job. If it works better to write it out, set a timer and write for 10 minutes. If you’re visual, get on Pinterest and start pinning images of how your new work life will feel. Imagine all the details. You wake up, get dressed, and head out the door to your new job. Where are you headed? How will it feel when you get there? Don’t worry about the exact job duties yet. Just try to think of three words to describe how it feels to be there.


Now, back to the shitty job.  Your workload isn’t going to magically shrink to manageable size. You need to prioritize, but how? If your job were a college course, what parts would contribute to your final grade? Are the TPS reports worth 50 percent (even though they’re ridiculous and demeaning)? Do them. Is managing angry clients worth 30 percent? Then get those belligerent a-holes on the top of your to-do list. If it helps, think of it like a game. I know, not rocket science. But resistance is futile, and remember, you’re out the door. Why not leave with a good reference?

Talk it out

Now, maybe you have no unearthly idea what your priorities are in the job. You need to have a Talk, with a capital T, with your boss. I know, terrifying, right? It’s an art, talking to your boss. We don’t give it enough of our focus in our careers. In this case, you approach the boss with a plea for help, not a veiled criticism of their management skills (although, yes, it may be all their fault.) It’s all in the tone of voice, the facial expressions. We rehearse for big presentations and job interviews, but many of us go in cold to Big Talks. Rehearse with a friend or family member, or, ahem, with your friendly neighborhood career coach. You could even use your laptop camera and record yourself asking questions.


Now that you’ve somewhat tamed your mess of a job, start talking possibilities. You’re an accountant but you’re wondering about being a nutritionist. You’re a lawyer, but you’re wondering about being an airplane pilot. Start investigating. Vault is an amazing warehouse of information (I’m not being paid to endorse them here). Or O-Net, run by the Dept. of Labor, is less sexy, but informative and free.

After reading, start combing your network for informational interviews. Again, I see so many clients energized by talking with someone who does what they’re thinking of doing. There’s no substitute, none, for getting in touch with real people. Yes, it’s tough to ask for help, but people really do like to help. And make sure it’s a two-way street. Are you an expert at traveling through Europe, and they’re about to go on a trip? Help them out. Network both ways.

Meanwhile, there is hope, at least for those of us making less than 50K per year. The Department of Labor is updating the overtime rules to require time and a half overtime pay for those who make less than $47,476. The rule is set to take effect December 1 of this year.

Need help with any of this? Contact me at 240-277-6224 or meredith@mltcareers.com.