From work-life balance to bad bosses, your career can bring you down. But by re-examining some old career myths, you might figure out how to be happier at work.
There’s an epidemic afoot. It’s not new, but it’s escalating all around us.
It’s people who are miserable at work. If they’re not miserable, they’re relatively unhappy. If nothing else, they’re just stressed out. A lot.
Perhaps you can relate.
To blame? The growing list of career myths: the old-fashioned, sometimes-twisted notions we continue to hear – and believe. They’re hurting our chances of success, damaging our very happiness. And they need to die if we’re going to learn how to be happier at work.
Here are three major myths that need to be banished for a better outlook on your career. (Click here to tweet these three myths.)
Career myth 1: Work-life balance? Yeah, I can get that
No, you can’t.
Why not? Because, for many of us, the notion of work-life balance means that if we just organize ourselves and set some boundaries, we can have it all. We can advance our careers at lightning speed, impress our managers and clients with our incredible drive, and still get home in time to make dinner for the kids, have an adult conversation with our loved ones, and end the day with a bubble bath.
Here’s the thing. With only 24 hours in a day (and less if you’re getting anywhere near the amount of sleep you need), there just isn’t enough time to have it all — all of the time — and do it all perfectly.
It’s not having it all that’s stressing you out. It’s thinking you can in the first place. Instead of trying to have “it all”, you must focus on having “your all.” This means deciding what (and who) are most important to include in your life right now, and what (and who) need to be let go. For now.
Give yourself permission to not have it all, and enjoy everything you do decide to do.
And all of this “work/life balance” stuff? It just needs to go.
Career myth 2: my boss makes me miserable, but I just have to suck it up
No, you don’t.
It’s amazing how many people find themselves in their dream jobs, only to have the whole experience ruined by a bad boss.
Here’s the thing: you have a say in this.
A bad boss isn’t necessarily a bad person. He or she is just the wrong boss for you. You might like lots of independence and he prefers to monitor your every move. You might want lots of support and she is always out of the office. You might prefer direct communication and he or she is passive-aggressive. (Ick.)
When you look at new positions, make part of your research figuring out who your boss will be. Even before that, figure out just what kind of boss you want, and what you’re willing to settle for. During the interview process, ask about your potential boss’ expectations of you, and put your relationship expectations out there as well — gracefully, of course. If it’s not a clear fit, rethink the opportunity.
What if you’re in a “bad boss” situation now? You must address it. Different bosses will require different strategies. Some will require direct discussion, others a more delicate touch. If it’s not fixable, then you might need to get creative, considering other positions in your company or ways to shuffle around your supervisory situation. Or you might need to go.
Make your bad boss situation better, and everything will be better.
And all of this “I’m stuck with my boss” stuff? Time for it to end!
Career myth 3: I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I’m screwed!
No, you’re not.
Gosh, this one is annoying. So many of us have been told that we need to determine what we want to do in life by our teens and 20s. From an early age, the adults around us began saying that we need to figure this stuff out so that we can begin our careers, and then stay in them so we can move up, up, up.
But everything changes. I guarantee that all of the things you wanted in your teens are not all of the things you want now. You’ve changed. You’ve experienced things. You’ve recognized what (and who) delights you what (and who) doesn’t.
Yes, it’s important to figure out “your all” and go after it. But just know that “your all” is a “for now” thing. Life is a big testing ground, so before you go thinking you’re stuck in a career or a relationship or a book club forever, know that you can change it any time you want to. It’s not always easy, but you’re not stuck.
And all of this “figure it out early and stay in it forever” stuff? It may not be for you. And that’s OK.
Got a career myth that needs to die? Well, go ahead and share it!
Deirdre Maloney is a published author, national speaker, and proud president of her training and facilitation company Momentum LLC. Her books include Bogus Balance: Your Journey to Real Work/Life Bliss, Tough Truths: The 10 Leadership Lessons We Don’t Talk About, and The Mission Myth.