Closely related to focusing on the whole vs the parts, is the tendency to look at all the things your job doesn’t have. My Chips Ahoy doesn’t taste like an Oreo. It doesn’t have ice cream on top. And it doesn’t make music and dance. Most of all, it doesn’t come attached to a thousand dollar bill.
And after a while, the list of “doesn’ts” goes on and on:
- my boss doesn’t pay me enough
- this job doesn’t have enough opportunities
- the work I do doesn’t fulfill me
- this job doesn’t really matter
- my boss doesn’t appreciate me enough
- my coworker doesn’t have a useful thought in his head
- the office doesn’t have good vending machines
- why doesn’t anyone ever clean up after themselves
When doing the doesn’ts kicks in
When we first take the job, we feel excited by all the possibilities. The salary sounds good to us. The office is in a convenient location. The coworkers are nice people. And the job itself has some interesting responsibilities.
But then the dreaded doesn’ts take over. And the isn’ts. The job isn’t important enough. My salary isn’t as much as Sally makes. The work isn’t exciting on a daily basis. It isn’t what I always dreamed of.
Next, we talk to our friends and co-workers about what our job doesn’t have. And, as we start to list all the doesn’ts and isn’ts, in a strange way we begin to take pleasure in our own misery. Suddenly what we thought of as a pretty good job turns into something we resent.
And we start asking ourselves why we’re even staying. Then, when our friends hear how miserable we are, they help encourage us to leave. Because from our descriptions the job sounds horrible. And the bad far outweighs the good. But does it really?
Let’s zoom in on those “job doesn’t have” weights
In math, there’s a concept called weighting that allows us to give a certain weight to each part of a formula. In effect, when we play the “doesn’ts” game, we assign heavier weights to the things we find wrong. And lighter weights to all the good things.
And when we do that, the job does feel wrong for us. Just look how much heavier all the doesn’ts are. And how long the list is. In fact, the scale is probably going to tip over!
But what if we reworked the formula to assign heavier weights to some of the things we originally thought were pretty good? And what if we spent some time adding in the possibilities that we aren’t able to see when we spend so much time looking at what the job doesn’t have?
Now let’s use a lens to zoom out again
When we pull back from the super close focus and give some perspective to the situation, the picture starts to change. This isn’t easy, especially if you’ve devoted a lot of energy to thinking about the doesn’ts. What the job doesn’t have can feel huge when it’s all you think about.
But, as I discuss in the article about the whole vs. the parts, we need to begin to focus on what really is there. And what we actually do have. This won’t make the bad parts of your job suddenly disappear. It just helps put everything back into proportion.
And it enables you to shift your focus toward making your job better. Not just coming up with more and more things that add to your misery. But you can only do that if you learn to zoom out and see the whole picture. The good as well as the bad. And this time giving enough weight to the “does haves.”
Or the might haves if you put your mind and energy toward that!
Some articles with tips to help
What To Do If Your Job Makes You Miserable
And just in case you do need to leave