Liz Ryan

We’re bringing you more Liz Ryan today because, well, she’s really good.

This week on LinkedIn, she posted her advice to someone in a tough position – Brian hates his job but is making the most money he’s ever made and can’t afford to quit. He feels trapped.

Listen to this 6 minute podcast to hear Liz’s advice to Brian (or check out our wrap-up below):

Dear Brian,

Most of us have felt trapped in an unhappy work situation at some point, and it’s no fun. It’s awful – disrupts your sleep, takes over your mind when you should be relaxing, and generally destroys your quality of life. I understand why you feel stressed out.

The good news is that you’re not the slightest bit trapped. You only need to change your relationship with the lousy job, and you can start working on that this minute.

This job is just a stop on your path, Brian. The job doesn’t define you. So, some people act like children and storm around the place? That’s great. That’s absolutely fine. You know what’s going to let you rise above all that nonsense? The fact that you have bigger fish to fry. You’re going to start working on Brian Career Plan 2014 and put the craptastic job in the rear view mirror before the kids get out of school.

Step 1: Build a force field 

The first thing I want you to do is to erect a very thin, pliable membrane around your heart and your ego when you’re at work. I’d never recommend that as a long-term strategy, because I want you to dive in and bring everything you’ve got to your job, and find the connection to your power source at work every day. But this job isn’t conducive to that kind of connection, so you’re going to treat it as a way station, a resting place from which you’ll leap to a better assignment.

You’re going to create a little force field that keeps the toxic stuff far enough way from you so that you don’t get emotionally involved. What’s that you say, someone slimed me in a meeting? They ripped me to shreds in absentia? Oh, okay. That’s fine.

You have to detach. Your emotional investment in the drama at work is what’s sapping energy that should go to plotting your next adventure. You’re spending your finite mojo supply in the wrong place. Forget those turkeys you work for. Your priority is you.

Step 2: Take your time

The key thing is to take your time. Don’t bolt into an even worse job and tank both your resume and your mojo level. You need more than an escape plan. You need a new direction, and the good news is that if you can treat your remaining tenure at the awful job as a kind of forced reflection period, you can use that time to very good advantage.

First, you need to get some altitude on your career so far. What would you be doing professionally, if it weren’t this? Do you love everything about the job except for the energy in the workplace? If so, you know how to reach out to hiring managers at your company’s competitors.

You can take your time! You’re employed. Employers often prefer to interview people who are already working somewhere else.

Step 3: Think about what you’ve learned

Watch “The Great Escape” with Steve McQueen this weekend. Get a journal and write about what you’d do for work if it were up to you, because it is up to you. The universe is pushing you away from the nasty people to figure out what’s next for Brian. Suck everything you can get out of that job — accomplishments, Dragon-Slaying Stories, and any customer or colleague references that you can use safely.

Everyone is a teacher — awful leaders included. I’ll bet you’ve accumulated some awesome How Not to Manage stories on this job. Those will stand you in good stead forever!

Step 4: Focus on yourself

When you turn some of your mental and emotional energy away from managing the daily dysfunction and invest it in charting your own path, you’ll be amazed how much better you feel. The drama at work won’t bother you as much, because you’ll be working toward your next grand adventure and letting the weenies do whatever their weenie brains tell them to do.

Something to ponder:

Sometimes, there’s a reason lousy jobs come with excellent salaries. When executives know that the jobs are untenable, they throw money at people instead of telling the truth about the Godzilla dysfunction that has rotted out the heart of the organization, the way termites eat a house from the inside.

Can you apply Liz’s advice to your current job situation? Tell us below.

[Illustration: Liz Ryan]


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