In a rut at work

  • May 31, 2016

Originally published in the News Star and the Shreveport Times on Sunday, May 29, 2016.

Question: I am in a rut in my job and I’m not sure how to get out of it. I just can’t see myself doing this for 20 or 30 more years. But I have no idea what I would do otherwise. I keep my eye on the jobs websites, but there’s really nothing there. Where do you suggest I look?

Answer: Between your ears.

business woman au travail - fatigue burn outEarl Nightingale was a 20th century writer and radio personality. Dubbed the “Dean of Personal Development,” his often repeated motto was, “Your rewards in life are always in exact proportion to your contribution.”

That’s one of those statements that is easy to believe but harder to put into practice.

You wish you work was interesting, rewarding (emotionally and financially) and made a real contribution. But those aren’t choices on the drop down menu of the job search websites you’re been perusing.

If you keep looking where everyone else is looking, and doing what everyone else is doing, what makes you think the results of your search are going to be anything but average?

Borrowing heavily from some of Nightingale’s timeless ideas, here are three suggestions to help you get out of your rut and into your desired future.

Practice thinking. Nightingale recommended a daily practice so simple that most won’t try it – daily idea time.

Select an “idea time” each day. During your idea time, do just one thing – write five new ideas of how to make things better where you work. Keep your ideas in a notebook so you can refer back to them. I want you to start your five-ideas-a-day notebook focused on your current work situation because that’s where you are in a rut. You don’t have to leave your current job to get out of your rut. The job didn’t cause the rut. You let that happen.

Five ideas a day will result in 25 a week Do that all year and you’ll have over 1000 ideas. Most of them will be worthless. Some of these will be interesting, or provoke new ideas. I can almost guarantee you that at least one of those ideas will be life changing.

Discipline your attitude. “Begin now to act as the person you wish to become,” Nightingale used to say. If you want to be a person with numerous interesting friends, act friendly. If you want to be a person people go to for advice, seek and be open to the advice of others. If you want to reap the financial benefits of being a Contributor (as opposed to a Consumer), stop looking out only for yourself and start asking yourself how you can help others.

Another 20th century advice guru was fond of saying, “You can have anything in life you want, as long as you can help enough others get what they want.” That’s the mindset of a Contributor.

Discipline your attitude by acting now like the Contributor you want to one day become.

Keep moving in the mean time. When you decide to change lanes, the last thing you want to do is stop in the middle of traffic. If you commit to a daily idea generation practice and begin to discipline your attitude, you may determine that your job is not worth keeping. Or you may find another situation that suits the new you better.

Either way, something is going to change – either you will, or your job will, or maybe both will…eventually. But as you begin your new way of thinking and feeling about your life, don’t for a minute think you should quit your job to accelerate the process. You don’t.

Too often quitting early actually short-circuits the good that can come from working through a tough season of life.

Work at your thinking. Think about your work. Act how you want to be.

Your contributions will expand. And so naturally will your rewards.

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Byron R. Moore, CFP® is Managing Director / Planning Group of Argent Advisors, Inc. Email him at bmoore@argentadvisors.com. Write to him at 500 East Reynolds Drive, Ruston, LA 71270 or call him at (318) 251-5858. The opinions of any single advisor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Argent Advisors, Inc. No forecasts can be guaranteed. Argent Advisors, Inc. does not offer tax, insurance or legal advice. The information contained in this column should not be construed as a substitute for personalized investment, tax, insurance or legal advice.