It is certainly no secret from reading this blog that I hate my job. A good friend of mine was in a similar situation with his job last year. He described working at a job you hate as "a soul crushing experience." I could not agree more. Sometimes, things start out well and then over time you realize that the company just isn't for you. In my case, I realized almost immediately that I had made a huge mistake in taking this job.
My first client had been with the company about a year, and had suffered through a horrible implementation. There was a lot of bad blood on that account and I was the third Client Director in nine months. I started a few weeks prior to the annual renewal date for the contract. At my first meeting with the client, they announced that they wanted to terminate the contract. I spent the next five months painfully negotiating an end to the agreement and closing things out.
My second client had another twist to keep me on my toes. As it turned out, the client is my Boss's Daughter. My Boss is a Vice President and she is arguably one of the most powerful women in the company. She has been there forever, knows everything and everyone. The Daughter is a mini version of my Boss. She is on the fast track and committed to making a name for herself in the industry. Nothing is going to stand in her way.
So here I am, the Client Director in charge of this new implementation for my Boss's Daughter and things are not going well. The Daughter is having fits on a regular basis and is clearly not concerned about professional courtesy as she constantly yells at me and my team. Yet, I can't really complain to my Boss about it. That combined with the crazy hours, perpetual state-of-emergency meetings, constant conference calls, instant messages and other pointless interruptions. Needless to say, it has been a rough few months on the job and it is not going to be getting better any time soon.
As a result, I have been having some bad thoughts about work. It started out with the occasional mumbling to myself after I finished a conference call. I would hang up the phone and say to myself "I hate this job. I hate this job." Or when I was rushing to prepare for yet another meeting so the Daughter could yell at me, I would walk over to the copy room saying to myself "I hate this job. I hate this job." At first it made me feel better, a little rebellious even. I could have my private little moment of satisfaction and then move on with my day.
But as things progressed, my daily affirmations became more frequent and more intense. Every morning I found myself getting out of the car, walking across the parking lot with my laptop bag weighing on my shoulder, stepping onto the elevator and chanting to myself "I hate this job. I hate this job." Before I even reached my desk or took my first phone call, I was already setting the tone for the entire day.
After hearing about my first few months on the job, I am sure no one could blame me for having those feelings. After all, I took this job to learn something new and gain exposure to other aspects of the business so that I could make some decisions about my long term career path. The last thing I expected was to walk into so many volatile situations that would impact my mental and physical health.
I had my weekly status with my Boss recently. She was going through my revenue forecast and explaining to me that if we make all of the numbers we are anticipating that I would be going to President's Club. The President's Club is a huge deal at the company. Every year, the Sales Representatives and the Client Directors who bring in the most revenue - above and beyond their annual targets - are anointed as members of the President's Club. Along with this honor comes an all expenses paid vacation to a tropical island destination.
Now if I stopped right there, you would probably wonder what is so bad about being in the President's Club. A free vacation for you and your spouse or significant other probably sounds fantastic. Well, here's the catch. It is a group vacation. All of the winners of the President's Club go on the trip together, along with the executives and the CEO of our company. They spend the entire week eating, drinking, golfing, snorkeling and sunbathing together.
Each year, the President's Club winners are announced at our Annual Sales Meeting. There is a big splashy video of the prior year's winners, all smiling and sunburned, sipping on drinks with paper umbrellas in front of a beautiful sunset. This is supposed to motivate us. But for me personally, I cannot imagine a worse vacation experience than being trapped on an island with the top sales staff, other executives and the CEO of the company. Having to make small talk on a daily basis and pretending that we have something in common other than the fact that we are all stuck on this trip together and we all made the greedy corporate shareholders a shitload of money.
For my Boss, the possibility of me making President's Club was the most exciting news. I think she was expecting me to leap through the phone with anticipation. And maybe for someone else, it would be a great achievement. But for me it just reinforced that I do not belong at the company. I am not in any way motivated by big cash bonuses, fancy trips or the free gifts that come along with them. In fact, I have already decided that if I do win President's Club this year, I am going to give the trip away to someone on my team. It would mean a lot more to one of them than it would to me.
For most of my working life, I have gained great deal of personal and professional satisfaction from my job. It has always been a core component of my identity. That is why I think I have struggled so much since I started this job. If I hate my job, and my job is a core component of my life, then do I hate my life too?
Recently, I have made a conscious effort to separate myself from the job that is holding my soul hostage every day. This job has been so all-consuming that I've been afraid to make plans during the week for fear that I would have to cancel them to deal with the latest emergency, or that I would be too exhausted to follow through after another long and draining day at the office. But in the past few weeks I have started leaving the office on time so I can go to the gym, have drinks with the Boy, or visit with my family. And I don't let myself stress out about it. The work will still be there when I get back the next day.
Most importantly, I have changed the daily affirmation that goes through my head each morning as I trudge through the parking lot, into the building and up the elevator. I have stopped saying "I hate this job. I hate this job." Instead, I have started telling myself "This is not my life. This is not my life." And you know what? It seems to be working so far.