“I will be glad when the holidays are over so that I can get back to work.”
With that statement, everyone in the room looked at me in bewilderment. “You have almost a month break and you are bored and want to go back to work,” said one of the dinner guests. My response was that, “I am in love with what I do and to me it is not work.”
As the evening progressed and the conversation topics moved on I thought of my presentation at the Human Resources Development Fund in Kuala Lumpur. I implored everyone to find their true-life love and “you will know when you have hit bullseye.” I asked how many could explain “TGIM” and what it meant. There was a silence in the room. I said OK, can you tell me what TGIF means? There was laughter in the room as everyone could connect with me now.
TGIM: Thank God It’s Monday
Imagine as the weekend comes to a close, you were overcome with a sense of eagerness. That sense of eagerness arose because you were anticipating the new week. You were anticipating the work that was beckoning you from afar. You were like a race horse arriving at the starting gate, prancing, eager, a sense of nervousness waiting for the starting bell.
You may have that “Yeah right” look on your face as you read that. However, there are millions of people with that TGIM mindset and experience it every week and possibly over the long holidays. It is not a pipe dream.
One thing I have learned over the years is that it makes no sense to punish yourself in what you are doing. If it gets to be so bad that the butterflies start on Sunday evening, that is a signal. When that slowly intrudes into the recesses of your weekend at an earlier stage, that is the danger zone.
The crossroad of your career
I had it so bad at one point in my career that Saturdays ceased to be any fun because I knew the next day was Sunday which was already miserable because Monday followed. That was my first encounter in getting to the career crossroads.
I did something then that everyone told me was crazy. I resigned with no job in sight. I had calculated that with severance I had six months to bounce back. There were some cloudy days, and lots of second guessing while staring at the ceiling. But looking back on that 2008 decision, it was a gold star decision. I could not have scripted a better decision.
What I learned was that when you get to that crossroad, you must decide. You can’t mindlessly ignore all the signals your body is giving you. You can’t just torture yourself and you know it is not working.
What is your plan?
My question to my coaching clients is, “What is your plan?” You can’t keep lamenting the same story. To bring peace to your soul, you must decide on a plan. As you approach the planning stages, issues that were not clear begin to come into focus
I have often surmised that the ills of the workplace could be solved if everyone spent some time on career development. The acting out, low engagement, disinterest is all the result of doing what you do not want to do. Which means that every Monday the charade starts again, going through the motions while your inner self is telling you every minute that this is not it. But we soldier on and ignore the messages.
Consider this at the transformation stage:
1. Are you clear about what your major goal is? You must have a destination. This is rule #1. Start the process of figuring this out. We spend more time trying to decide our next vacation than we do deciding what we really want to do.
2. Are you ready to pay the price? My football coach’s favorite mantra was that you must be willing to pay the price. That may mean burning the midnight oil as you prepare for your transition. My daughter told me during her senior year that once she finished college, she would never pick up a book again. My response was that the studying does not begin till you get in your career sweet spot and you are trying to get to the next level.
3. What skills will you need? What are the future competencies needed for this new role? If you have not checked this in a while you may realize that your skills have become rusty or, god forbid, obsolete. Think print industry vs digital.
4. Building your cabinet. Who is going to be on your board of directors? That could include mentors, coaches or peers. Look for people in or near the new space where you are headed. These are resources you can call on when you hit a roadblock or slight detour.
5. What are you reading? I liken the internet to having your own custom library. You must read and re-educate yourself for this new skill set. My reading list comprises CFO.com, CMO.com, CEO.com, etc. I want to be surrounded with knowledge of the organization as that is my space. Numerous blogs and white papers are also available.
6. How will you know when it is time? Moving forward with your career might require one step or, more likely, it may require many steps. To be successful at each step you will need to have progressed to a certain point. Begin researching the job skills that are needed and how far you are away from them. Having a clear idea of where you need to be to make the next step forward allows you to identify and seize the opportunity as soon as it presents itself.
7. Are you motivated? It can take a long time to get where you want to go. There will be good times and bad, sunny days and cloudy ones. Your ability to stay focused and motivated is what will keep you on track. It gets you up out of the Sunday doldrums and helps you bounce back when you experience a setback. Many people fail to create the career they desire because their motivation is not strong enough. The stronger your motivation the greater your chance of success.
In the end, you have no choice. You can continue going through what you are experiencing or begin the process of turning it around. Who knows? You could be a few months or a year away from TGIM. Good luck, your future self will thank you for it.