How to Have a Personal Breakthrough

I’ve been having what’s technically referred to as “a heck of a time” at work. My job has repeatedly driven me to the brink over the past several months. I would have sworn to you yesterday that there was no hope of redeeming the situation. But I had a personal breakthrough this morning–I simply can’t put into words how much my outlook, attitude, and emotional state have improved. What happened? Well, it went something like this…

I got real. The reality is that I choose to do this job. No one has the power to force me to stay, and I can walk away from it at any time. Yes, it’s been miserable, but I must be getting something out of it or I wouldn’t do it. In this case, what I’m getting is money/financial freedom, health insurance, interaction with my colleagues (whom I love), and well… the challenge. I was acting like a victim–oh poor pitiful me, abused and mistreated by evil agents of my client! Why oh why must life be so cruel? That’s just B.S. I’m not a victim; I’m a willing participant. This realization made me feel much more empowered to change the situation.

I played make-believe. I took a hard look at what I believed to be true about my job. (1) My job makes me miserable. (2) The only way for me not to be miserable is to quit. (3) I can’t stop working right now because we need my income. (4) I can’t change jobs right now because we might be moving. I wrote those statements down and looked at them for a while. It occurred to me that there’s no objective truth there. These things are only true if I believe they’re true.

So I decided to make a new set of beliefs. (1) My job is challenging. (2) I can ask for help with those challenges. (3) I enjoy the benefits of my job. (4) I can make this work. So I talked to my supervisor. Now, I’ve complained to him many times before about how horrible things are, but this time, I did something different. I proposed a solution–what if the client assigned someone to work with me part-time? That person could manage the part of the job that is most frustrating to me, and I’ll do the rest. One phone call and five minutes later, I had a partner. It’s so mind-bogglingly simple that I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner.

I got positive. That simple step–assigning someone to work with me–was enough to improve my outlook dramatically. This person hasn’t actually started working with me yet, but the mental relief of knowing help was on the way was immense. I began to see how negative I’d become about my job. I was missing the good things that were happening around me all the time–the thank you emails I received from my clients, the sense of satisfaction when I achieved a goal after a long battle, the positive recognition from my supervisor and colleagues. I didn’t register any of it. All I saw and felt was frustration, anger, and misery. That was (and realizing this was kind of a blow) entirely my choice. That realization was like a ray of sunlight breaking through the clouds. I don’t have to experience misery and frustration any more. I can choose to experience something else!

Since then, I’ve been on Cloud Nine. Yes, my job is hard. Yes, I’m busy. Yes, things don’t always go perfectly. But I have the power to change this situation, and more importantly, change my experience of this situation any time I want.

Let’s hear it for personal breakthroughs!