Thursday isn’t Friday Eve: QUIT living for the weekend and start living!
Recently, a friend noted that hating your job is like another full-time job. If you have ever had a job you hated, you know this is the truth. I used to work at a non-profit where the office was clean and tidy, there were ample snacks and bottomless coffee, there were holiday parties, and people generally seemed to get along with each other. All this was negated by a few repressive regulations that made employees feel they weren’t considered sovereign beings capable of making adult choices. For example, the company had an irritatingly old fashioned dress code; skirts had to be below the knee, and pants couldn’t reveal an ankle, hello Victorian Era! But generally, the organization was healthy with a diverse team, fair working hours, and average pay (when you factored in the excellent benefits).
With all of that, it was difficult for me to understand why by Wednesday, people were already saying, in the knowing tones of co-conspirators, more than halfway done (with the week)” and “we’re almost there.” By Thursday, well, we didn’t even have Thursday. All of my colleagues were ready to be done with the workweek by Thursday and had deemed it, “Friday eve.” The bottom line was people didn’t like working there.
For some reason, this Friday-eve mentality affected me deeply. I found it depressing and deflating. I liked my job. I felt good about the work I was doing was pleased to be serving my community. I tried to figure out the origin of my colleagues’ feelings. It came down to two things. First, the disrespect inherent in a strict dress code. And next, the simple fact that as a culture, we’ve evolved past the 40-hour workweek. Many companies have employed me over the years, and except for on-demand positions like cashier, food service, and teaching, a focused employee can often get the work spread across 5-days done in 2-3. It’s time to rethink the standard 40-hour workweek and cut the fluff. That said, I think it’s counter-intuitive to spend time loathing what you do. It drains your very precious energy. And more significantly, the whole, ‘is it Friday yet?” mentality is a subtle attack on the self, discounting the value of your work. This is true even when your office is hostile or toxic, expending energy hating your job males it even harder to get out, it drains more of your resources. Trash-talking the way you spend 40-hours of your week subtly undercuts your self-esteem. It also puts all the expectations of an entire life on the fantasy of a very brief weekend where you can truly live and be yourself. It treats the week as a time when you have to disconnect and be a lifeless robot-automaton. It’s mentally and physically unhealthy.
It’s true that at work, most people share only a limited amount of personal information. There are aspects of your personal life that have no place in the office (though I’d also contend that if being unable to share is negatively impacting you, maybe you need to find a more suitable office environment). Still, there is always a way of being yourself while not completely revealing yourself. This is one of the key differences between maintaining your integrity and feeling diminished. You can be you even if you can’t cover your desk in crystals, hang tapestries, and burn incense in the office. You express the core of who you are through all of your actions and attitudes.
There are myriad reasons to stay in a job that drains you. Maybe you need the money and haven’t found anything better yet. Perhaps you are feeling too tired and depressed to look for a new job. Or you may feel a diminished sense of self-worth after being at a job you despise for a while and lack the confidence to pursue something new. These reasons and any others you may have are all very reasonable excuses for being (temporarily) stuck in a position that doesn’t suit you. Unfortunately, the price you pay for hating what you do can be higher than you may realize. In addition to physical and mental health issues that can result from work stress, inevitably, it bleeds into your personal life and can cause conflict and dissatisfaction at home.
If you’re stuck in a toxic office, or one that doesn’t challenge you or compromises your true nature, you’re in danger. Hitting snooze, taking mental health days, and suffering from the Sunday evening blues are all strong indications your work is negatively impacting your life. If you’re thinking about your job after work or dreading Monday all weekend, it’s time to take action. I was in a toxic work situation once and was driving home from work when I looked behind me to see police lights flashing. When the officer approached my car, he was furious. “What’s going on? I have been following you with my lights on for three miles?” He demanded. I was shocked. I was so caught up in thoughts about my terrible job that I was driving a car impaired by them. I actually thanked the officer for the ticket I clearly deserved. This kind of work preoccupation is just plain bad for you. Loathing what you do can lead to physical and mental health problems such as:
- Substance use/abuse
- Weight gain
- Sleep loss
And there are other, more subtle impacts.
- Decreased motivation
- Lower immune response
- Lower self-esteem
- Reduced confidence
Beyond Friday eve
If you’re a Friday eve person, below are a few suggestions to help you start building yourself up and living your best life all week long.
First things first:
- Remember that you are not the role; you are a person performing a job. Set boundaries. Don’t let your self-worth get too intertwined with a company or job that doesn’t suit you.
- If you have been feeling burnt-out and negative for a while, it’s important to start building yourself back up. Track the ways you add value every day, keep a journal of all the ways you improve the world around you.
When you’re in the office:
- Get up and move. Take a walk outside at lunch or do a lap around the building to reset yourself when the stress rises.
- Use the extra time you have to gain new skills! There are so many free classes online that enable you to learn new skills during your downtime at work. Nothing empowers faster than learning something new.
- When an opportunity to engage in gossip (*link)arises, avoid it. Steer clear of negativity and those who spread it.
- Take your work seriously, be responsible, and maintain your professional integrity no matter how frustrated you feel. Nothing will drag you down faster than disappointing yourself.
Getting ready for the future:
- If it’s time to move on, first, try to understand what you dislike about your current company or job so that you don’t fall into the same type of situation again.
- Create a dream job profile so that you know the type of company you want to work for, the kind of work you’d like to do, and the ideal company culture.
- If you no longer love the field, you’re in, start looking for ways to acquire new skills. If you’re moving in a new direction, an imperfect situation can feel far less oppressive.
Always remember that you have control over your emotions. You have the power to reset your attitude about work until you’re able to find something better suited for you.