Posted by fxckfeelings on December 13, 2016
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“Work,” like “nazi,” or “feces,” is one of those words that has an inherently negative connotation (except for a very select group of Germans). That’s why, if you’re unhappy with your current job, it’s important to remember that work is supposed to be unpleasant and that the chaos and instability of a major career change might be even worse. Here are five things to consider before changing career tracks so you don’t end up a train wreck.
1) Brace Yourself and Make a Budget
Force yourself to do a full audit of your expenditures so you can figure out how much you need and how badly you need it. It’s easy to spend as much as you’ve got when you’ve got it, but some expenses are necessities (electricity) and others aren’t so much ([insert sports team here] cable package), and you need to know before dropping your current career what they add up to over time so you can estimate how long your savings will cover you.
2) Assess the Amount of Work-Time You Can Take
Working extra hours at a job you love, whether you need them or not, can do you serious harm if it consumes all the socializing and parenting time required to keep you sane and your family happy. Avoid switching to a job that will be too time-consuming, particularly work that absorbs you, until you know how much time you can really afford and how much time you absolutely need for other priorities. Your job is to manage your priorities, not be managed by whichever one grabs you the most.
3) Scout the Market for Your Offered Skills
Even when you’re highly trained and good at what you do, the market for your specific services may vary greatly according to where you live and whether those previously trained and equally gifted have also chosen to live in the vicinity. Don’t jump to a more interesting field until you know what the market will pay for your services and if you do or can live where that market is strongest.
4) Investigate Your Partner’s Earning potential
If you’re in a committed relationship, never assume that a career that’s perfect for you will work well for your spouse; Of course you want one another to be happy, but if your new career destroys your family dynamic, or the schedule that either one of you thinks is necessary for the kids, or even the other guy’s career, then your whole house will be an unhappy one. Partnership isn’t about unconditional love, but about mutual planning, so that you know the limits that you have to work with.
5) Ponder Plan B
If you don’t know how you can face another day of the job you hate but discover you can’t easily leave, don’t despair; failing to make a change now won’t doom you to eternal unhappiness. Even if you can’t find an alternative now, a good option may present itself later, and in the meantime you can consider ways of making your current job a little less painful, like working from home, finding an engrossing off-the-clock distraction, or just giving yourself little gift incentives for every week you get through without murdering your manager. Don’t promise yourself escape or career happiness, but do promise to make the best of what’s available and to respect yourself for doing so.
Posted by fxckfeelings on November 22, 2016
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Young people in search of their vocational calling are often told to “find a job you’ll love.” What they aren’t told, however, is that most people love eating, having a roof over their heads, and getting to keep all of their teeth, and it’s easier and better to find a job you hate that helps you achieve those beloved goals than to search endlessly for work you’re passionate about while homeless and hungry for soft foods. Job satisfaction is never guaranteed nor fully under our control, so if working a shitty job is often unavoidable, working hard, whether your job calls to you or not, should be a source of pride, not shame.
I started my own business almost ten years ago, and it’s since grown really well with a staff of about 17 or 18. The problem is, I don’t enjoy the business I’m in very much at this point, so I am grappling with whether I should stop and do something else, or just carry on putting up with it. It’s hard to give up on something I’ve invested a lot of time and effort in, the business is doing well, I don’t want to put all my employees out of work, and I’m scared that I’d be throwing something valuable away and live to regret it in the future. My goal is to figure out whether (and how) I should stick to a job that I can no longer stand. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on February 18, 2016
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When you’re deep in the throes of anxiety, it can be hard to manage your breathing, let alone your thoughts. Still, for some people, like our reader from earlier this week, anxiety can find a way to take over. Here are five ways to manage anxiety and launch a preemptive counter-attack before things get out of control.
1) Learn to Recognize Real Catastrophe
Tame your inner “Chicken Little” and learn how to appreciate how easily a fear of catastrophe can make you feel a catastrophe has actually occurred. Once you get better at reining in the overreacting, you can respect the way fear can help you run faster, and avoid the way it can run you into a wall.
2) Work with the Worst Case
If you’re stuck fixating on every possible impending disaster, then try using your almost-Casandra-like abilities to prepare instead of just giving yourself an ulcer. Do what you can to improve your odds, taking pride in your ability to act and make rational risk management decisions despite the urge to run and hide.
3) Gain Anxiety Expertise
Instead of looking for the one treatment that will work, become knowledgeable about all of them (which, given the limited number of treatments, is not too hard). Then try them out, looking for several partially effective treatment to provide some relief some of the time. Learn enough about treatments so you know what to do if it gets worse and your usual attempts to manage it stall out.
4) Reject Relief
Whatever relieves your anxiety—work, drink, hiding out and playing RPGs for days at a time—may become addictive, so be prepared to limit your favorite relief activities if you have to. Limiting them will, of course, make you more anxious in the short run, so relief can never be your biggest goal, because then you’re just replacing one issue with another.
5) Get Back To Your Goals
If you dropped certain goals figuring that anxiety would make reaching them impossible, pick them back up again and keep trying. Success isn’t based on how normal you feel or how much you were or weren’t able to achieve compared to your healthy self, but how well your life reflects your usual values, and how much you can still accomplish, in spite of the distracting, painful burden of anxiety.
Posted by fxckfeelings on February 16, 2016
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Despite the bad rep it always gets, we like to remind people that anxiety can be a blessing and a curse. After all, anxious people sometimes do better work because they’re afraid of failing (and were once better at survival since they were afraid of being eaten). On the other hand, sometimes their fear of failing prevents them from working or doing anything at all. So if you’re an anxious person, learn how to use your anxiety to your advantage. Then, when it flares up too much, you will know how to use it for motivation while protecting yourself from the curse of paralyzing panic.
I recently completed several large and important projects at work in a brief amount of time. I am satisfied with my work and proud of myself for finishing, but due to the emotionally and mentally taxing nature of this work, I am exhausted in every way that it is possible to be exhausted. I find myself getting sick a lot, and I have had two anxiety attacks in a single week. Because I have a tendency toward anxiety, introversion, and depression, my exhaustion takes the form of wanting to withdraw and shut down. My supportive spouse is willing to shoulder more work at home (which leaves me feeling guilty), but, as much as I would like to, I can’t reduce my workload at my job at the moment. But I find it very difficult to deal with people there without feeling panicky and irritable. What I really need is like a month’s vacation, but I know that I am not going to get it without destroying my career. If I hang on for one more month, I will get a week off, but I have to make it until then. My goal is to get through the next four weeks without totally collapsing or burning bridges with colleagues and friends.
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on February 11, 2016
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Unlike with love, ‘tis better to have always been broke than to have known big bucks and lost them all. If, like our reader from earlier this week, you find yourself in the latter situation, you don’t need to find yourself poor in both cash and self-respect. Here are five ways to build pride when you’re poorer than you used to be.
1) Forget Myths About Former Success
You probably think your prior success was due to hard work, strong ability and perhaps some unique talent/chosen one status. If you re-examine the role of luck and remember the people you know who worked just as hard and got nowhere, it’ll become clear that you weren’t quite so chosen as you recall. When you realize you don’t control success, failure becomes less personal, and future success, should you be lucky enough to find it again, becomes that much sweeter.
2) Judge Job Quality Objectively
Since we’re often far too hard on ourselves, evaluate your employment situation as if you were considering a friend in the same position, using objective criteria to define good performance (and being a friend to yourself, as well). Never use criteria like how much you’re making, whether it’s more or less than before, or whether it’s more or less than your friends or, worse yet, enemies.
3) Don’t Avoid Downsizing Decisions
Cutting back has undoubtedly required painful and sometimes humiliating sacrifices, not just for yourself, but for your family, and often within judging distance of the neighbors. As much as you’d like to forget them, list them instead to remind yourself you had the courage to do what was necessary, even though it hurt.
4) Value Evaluation
Using the friend POV again, ask yourself how much you respect someone who is hardworking, happy, and rich versus one who lost his dough and is now hardworking but unhappy and poor, perhaps to the point of suffering. Remember your answer whenever you feel like a loser, and don’t hold back from reprimanding yourself for being a judgmental jerk.
5) Rate Effort, Not Outcome.
Without comparison to your former self or dreams of obscene wealth, evaluate your efforts to do a good job using the mental equipment and other resources that you actually have, not what you wish you had. If you’ve prevented discouragement from diminishing your effort, give yourself a high score. Just because you lost your good luck doesn’t mean you’ve lost your ability to work hard, try hard, and value what you do; you may have lost your wealth, but that doesn’t mean you’ve lost your worth.
Posted by fxckfeelings on February 9, 2016
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If you find yourself going from a higher income bracket to a lower one, you don’t just lose income; you also find yourself changing where you live, whom you socialize with, and how you feel about yourself as person. So don’t allow the lingering humiliation of downward mobility make you feel like a failure. Work hard, not just to climb back up, but to remember what success really is.
Although I know that the best thing to do is to live in the present, I have been reliving and brooding over my past mistakes (mainly professional ones) quite a bit recently. I had a much better financial situation in the past than I do now, what makes it almost impossible not to beat myself up since I keep comparing the “today me” with more successful “past me.” My goal is to be able to start again, fresh, having learned the lessons of such mistakes.
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on January 21, 2016
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At the start of a new year, you don’t have to be like our reader from earlier this week—someone in an usual career going through an usually hard time—to feel motivated to get your shit together. Here are five easy steps anyone can follow to get back on track no matter how rocky the terrain of your life happens to be.
1) Get A List of Goals
Obviously, if you’re trying to figure out how to get organized and motivated, you need to know what’s important enough to you to work for. Define these goals in terms of values, not results, e.g., include making a living, not making a mint. Think about what’s necessary, healthy, and fun in the long run, not what your wildest dreams are made of.
2) Put Together Your Priorities
The hardest part of prioritizing is learning to both accept the fact that two or three things deserve highest priority and the skill of juggling them all at once. It gets easier over time, and in the process of learning, you also get better at figuring out whether some of your priorities are actually worth dropping or putting aside.
3) Choose a Coach/System
Without a domineering spouse, day job, or ticking bomb in the basement, most people have to develop a system for self-management, particularly when they have to juggle their own obligations on top of their spouse’s, kid’s, dog’s, etc. Since most schools don’t teach you executive functioning skills, take a course and/or hire a coach. It’s amazing how much better you can do with a good to-do list, a set of urgency categories, and an omnipresent schedule.
4) Suss Out a Schedule
Assuming you have lots of responsibilities, limited time, and a strong desire to have fun, you need to create a schedule. A schedule helps you develop habits and shortcuts, so that you can reduce procrastination, deal with top priorities first, and make time for the things you really want to do. Again, don’t hesitate to take a course or use a coach.
5) Learn Your Limits
Many people experience endless feelings of responsibility once they engage in a serious task and those feelings can become consuming, particularly if an outside source (boss, spouse, parent, etc.) believes your share of responsibilities is never big enough. Train yourself to judge your responsibilities objectively by comparing them to your job description, taking into account your resources, and determining what a good person should do. Then you can remain focused on what’s really important, not overextend yourself, and not only get your shit together, but get shit done with a real sense of pride.
Posted by fxckfeelings on September 7, 2015
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Whether you’ve been unjustly fired (like our reader earlier this week) or cheated on or just ripped off at the car wash, it’s takes some time to get yourself together after being taken advantage of. Here are five simple things you can do to get your head together after being duped.
1. Don’t blame yourself for being a train wreck
After you’ve been hit hard, you can’t help feeling wounded and sensitive; when somebody punches you, they should feel guilty about the bruise, not you. Remind yourself that you’re not a loser, no matter how thoroughly you wiped out. Life is sometimes unfair to all of us, and unfortunately, your number came up.
2. Don’t mistake rumination for self-understanding
You won’t learn good lessons until later, after you’ve accepted the unfairness of life and recovered your abilities. So if you spend too much time in the aftermath dwelling on what happened to you, you’re just stewing and sulking, not making any inroads to self-discovery. Better to focus on moving forward and leave the learning until the dust has cleared.
3. List your priorities
Figure out what your most important, post-getting-screwed goals are; these usually involve work, friendship, independence, and healthy activities. Do not include getting a fair outcome, changing other people’s opinions, or feeling better soon, because none of those things are included in the whole “getting screwed” process, and aiming for them is bound to prolong your feelings of being cheated and wounded.
4. Get busy on a recovery plan as soon as possible
Once you’ve made your list, start figuring out what you need to do to reach those goals and start taking actions as soon as possible, using a coach or therapist if necessary. Getting going will help you stop thinking about what you’ve been through and get you focused on a whole new area of positive problem solving.
5. Take your time
Don’t rate the success of your recovery by how soon you recover your happiness, wealth, or reputation; you can’t control those things, so they aren’t an accurate reflection of your efforts or a reliable measure of results. Instead, take into account the amount of work you put in, despite how unhappy or humiliated you feel, and take pride in pushing yourself to get back to normal, even if it’s taking longer than you’d like.
Posted by fxckfeelings on September 1, 2015
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Sometimes, the good guys win, but when that happens, it’s usually followed by closing credits and an argument with your friends over whether it was all worth seeing in 3D. In real life, the bad guys don’t just win more often, but they make you feel like such a huge loser that you sometimes feel like your life is over. The good news, if there is any, is that your feelings of failure aren’t exactly real, either; if you’re working to get back on your feet, despite what you’ve been through, then you’re like a big screen hero. Later in the week, we’ll spell out the exact procedure for doing so.
I recently lost my job thanks to some crazy bosses. They made sure they lied and set me up so that I wouldn’t be able to get unemployment. Now I technically have the time to focus on some other projects I’d put on hold, but I’m so stressed out from losing my job and not being able to help my husband out or even have the money to start my business that I can’t focus and get anything else done. I feel totally stuck and completely screwed. My goal is to figure out how to get my mind straight so I can get back on track.
When you’ve been unfairly knocked down and don’t immediately have the resources to pull yourself back up, it’s natural to feel, to use the aforementioned clinical term, “completely screwed.” You feel powerless to fight back, pull yourself together, or do anything but curl into a ball under a bunch of blankets with a bag of Doritos for the immediate future.
What you have to remember, of course, is that you’re not responsible for doing the impossible, just for dealing with total shit as well as you can. Between your state of mind and the state of your finances, immediate recovery is just that, impossible, and when you’ve already been knocked down so hard, there’s no reason to kick yourself even lower.
Your goal then isn’t to find energy and concentration that aren’t there, or start a business with money you don’t have. It’s to take good care of yourself while you get over trauma and depression and then get back to your old priorities.
Fortunately, there’s nothing wrong with your priorities or, apparently, your marriage. Depression will get better with time but, whenever it’s disabling or not, there’s good reason to seek treatment with therapy and, if absolutely necessary, medication. With time, you will learn much from the collapse of your last job that will help you find better work in the future.
Your husband doesn’t see you as a failure or slacker, so don’t judge yourself by unfair standards. Being screwed is a normal part of life and you’re learning how to survive and recover. You’re probably not even doing it badly, it’s just hard not to feel self-blame and despair. So don’t apologize to your husband or retreat from your friends. Instead, let them know you need their support while you work out a way to keep busy, exercise, and resume work.
Once you’ve been screwed, you have to accept that it’s going to be a while before you can get back on your feet. In the meantime, remember that there’s nothing about this experience that makes you a failure. Eventually, there will be much about it that will guide you in better directions, starting with up from under the blankets and off the floor.
“I feel shattered, but that’s a natural reaction to a normal-yet-shitty experience. I earned my pain the hard way, by working hard and running into trouble I didn’t cause. I will recover as fast as I can and as well as I can.”
Posted by fxckfeelings on August 21, 2015
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Back-to-school time can bring emotional issues bubbling up to the surface as personality conflicts and intense power dynamics pop up and throw you and your family off-kilter.
Here are five all-too-common back-to-school issues and our advice for dealing with them.
1) Your Kid Hates His Teacher
It’s terrible to imagine your child feeling miserable for an entire school year, but as your kid’s number one teacher (tenured in perpetuity), you’re the one to help him manage frustrations and make the best of them. So take time, gather facts, and see if there’s something you can do to improve teacher-child communication or their attitudes towards one another, or have a positive talk with the principal about finding a better match for your son. Otherwise, do your best to teach him that learning is more important than any single teacher, that surviving the year is more important than showing your teacher he can’t get away with being a jerk, and that he can get through tough times like these with his family’s support.
2) You Hate His Teacher
Of course, if you hate your kid’s teacher as much as he does then you can at least validate his views, although it will take a lot more discipline and self-restraint to get through the year. If your kid is fine with his teacher but you aren’t, then you’re stuck keeping your feelings to yourself, at least at home. You could try having another positive pow-wow with the principal, listing reasons why a different match would be more successful. If your kid seems happy in the class, however, then you’re probably better off following common logic and avoiding the principal’s office entirely. If your kid can survive a year with this jerk, so can you.
3) You Hate The Other Parents
If you don’t like the values or characters of other parents in your neighborhood—and, given how passionate some parents can be about their specific choices and yours, this is not an uncommon scenario—school can be more alienating for you than for your kid. Your job is to keep your frustration to yourself and help him feel he belongs in class, whether or not you feel you belong. Your hope is that the kids are better than their parents and that your kid will find friends he likes in his class, even if you can’t.
4) The Other Kids Hate Your Kid
If your child is being picked on, definitely try to work with the school and other parents to stop bullying, but be prepared to get a lot of defensive responses because no parent wants to admit that they’ve spawned a bully and schools often lack the resources to really tackle the problem. Coach your child on how to handle bullies or just avoid them, but be sure to let your child know that you think he’s fine, even if he’s a social outcast for the time being. There may currently be no friends at school, but there are always friends at home.
5) You Hate Your Kid
Every parent fears having a kid s/he really doesn’t like, so commend yourself on surviving this living nightmare. You can see a therapist or ask yourself whether you’re overly irritable with everyone and need to improve your behavior and/or try medication for improving your mood, but if the answer is that it’s just your kid that’s a jerk, then you’re stuck. So if you’re burdened with unavoidable negative feelings, build up your ability to be a true professional, regardless of how you feel. Teachers have to spend huge amounts of time with kids they hate, so you can, too.