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7 Ways to Escape from Job Captivity

by Bill Lampton, Ph.D.

Ever feel that your job holds you captive, so that you are practically imprisoned?

My guess is that you can identify with this feeling of confinement quite easily. Check these thoughts you might have expressed, either silently to yourself or vocally to others you could confide in:

"This is a nowhere job, and I don't get any sense of fulfillment from it."

"The job market is shrinking so quickly, I don't think I could get another job if I tried."

"I despise Mondays, because they mean I'll have another week working here."

That's the problem. What's the solution?

Here are 7 ways to escape the sensation of being a workplace prisoner:

1. Get involved in a project that demands your full energy and creativity

I didn't originate this tip. Years ago, I told my good friend Eagle Day that my job situation distressed me. Eagle was a high school classmate who became a star quarterback at Ole Miss, played with the Washington Redskins, and then had a stellar career with the Canadian Football League. After his athletic days, he excelled in both business and government, so I valued his advice highly.

"Bill," he advised, "the best way to handle your anxiety is to start a big project that requires your best effort. Become totally committed to the project, and soon you will feel more productive. In fact, you'll probably enjoy the job you dislike so much now."

His recommendation worked, both then and later.

2. Share your concerns with those closest to you.

That's part of the major reason for families. They support us emotionally during tough times.

Yes, there's the tendency to try to shield our problems, "because I don't want my spouse or children to have to worry." However, this approach merely keeps tensions simmering, and eventually they will boil over. That hurts both your job and your domestic scene.

You may be surprised how little blame will be hurled at you when you describe your anguish. You will get encouragement and empathy instead of fault finding.

3. Expand your interests not related to work

For most of my career, heading to the golf course has given me the diversion and pleasure I need to forget work woes. Often, I was swapping one set of frustrations for another set, but at least the scenery had improved.

For you, diversion could be reading novels, doing volunteer work, going out to dinner, tailgating with friends at football games, or heading to the movies.

4. Take vacations, annually at least

Omitting vacations just magnifies our unhappiness. Stated more positively, a week or more away from our duties will recharge our batteries.

If you're thinking "there's too much to do here for me to leave, and my boss wouldn't like it," please reconsider. You will gain serenity and strength as you

  • watch a beautiful sunset
  • see and hear the waves coming onto the beach
  • go hiking through a dense forest
  • stand on a mountaintop
  • hear your children laugh at an amusement park
  • create lasting memories through photos and videos

5. Recognize that no job is worry free

That's why they call it work, not play. That's why employers pay us. As long as we earn an income, we will have to do some tasks we don't like.

6. Acquire new skills that will increase your value at work

The greater the service you can render to your employer and customers, the more your satisfaction level will climb. So take a computer course, learn a foreign language, attend professional seminars and conferences, read books by authorities in your industry, and align yourself with coaches and mentors.

7. Read inspirational books, and listen to motivational audios and videos

Some of my favorites:

Try these seven remedies for job captivity. You will enjoy the liberation that follows.

Bill Lampton, Ph.D., Communication Consultant and Speech Coach, "Helping You Finish in First Place." Visit his Web site, Championship Communication. Call Dr. Lampton: 678-316-4300

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