Do tears glide down your cheeks on the morning commute? Do you often find yourself locked in the bathroom at your place of employment for periods of time that are longer than normal? Do you roll your eyes (in your head) every time you hear the pitter-patter of your boss’s high heels coming around the corner? Do you nod, smile and say, “Yes, of course, I’m happy to,” when your insides are screaming, No, boss, your requests are out of hand? Do you find yourself fantasizing about all the juicy details of how you will walk out that same front door, never to return?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are likely suffering from Ready to Walk Syndrome. It happens to the best of us at least once in our lives. We find ourselves in a job situation from hell, yet we must stick it out until a better opportunity presents itself. If you hate your job — be it due to your boss, the coworkers, or the actual nature of your work — but you don’t have another job offer on the table, sometimes you just have to stick it out. But let’s be honest, we can only stick it out for so long, right? Eventually, sticking it out evolves to the next phase — Ready to Walk Syndrome — and this is when real battle begins.
Your negativity consumes you, and before you know it, you adopt the attitude of “So what, fire me?” because, well, you’re ready to go! The temptation to walk out the door and never return runs deep. For those of us who need that paycheck to survive, walking out is a great option in our imagination but a terrible idea in reality, and this is what brings on the Ready to Walk Syndrome: The overwhelming sense of defeat that comes from needing to walk and not being able to do it.
It’s a real thing, I know — because I’ve suffered from it. The good news? I survived to tell you that there are ways to cope with the Syndrome, and to reverse the damage that’s been done. The power lies in your own thoughts and actions, so if you want to smile a little more often at work, try the following suggestions.
1. Be an actress.
Use your morning commute to set the tone for your day, and take on the role of actress. When you walk through those doors, you are stepping into your biggest role, competing for the Emmy for best daytime performance. You are no longer you once you cross that doorway; you’re a woman who loves her job and everything about it. You become a woman who is grateful to work in such a wonderful environment. Your character is actually that obnoxious person in the office who is always so positive that it makes others stay an arm’s length away at all times. Become that person. Take this on as a challenge and remember who you are and what you do at the office is not the most important part of your life. Your home life, your authentic relationships, and life’s lessons matter most. Be someone else at work, even if it is the biggest acting gig you will ever take on. Give the performance of a lifetime every day.
2. Be a shining light in someone’s day.
So your job stinks, and you’re kind of miserable. Chances are you’re not the only one. It’s time to look inside to your authentic self and find what it is you have to offer to the people around you. Rely on your character strengths to get you and your coworkers through the day.
If you have the ability to make people laugh, don’t hold that back because your job is terrible. Walk around, tell jokes, and brighten the day of your colleagues. If humor isn’t your thing, focus on being a source of light to those around you. When someone makes you smile or does something kind, recognize it. Say thank you, or better yet, write a good old-fashioned thank-you note. If there is someone in the office who makes a difference in your miserable day, appreciate it, smile, and let them know they brighten your day. Compliment others and remain positive, because life isn’t about reports, paperwork, and team meetings. The job might suck, but you don’t! Don’t let it bring your character down. Challenge yourself every day to bring a smile to a coworker’s face. Smiles are contagious, after all.
3. Live it up outside the office.
It's tempting and easy to bring the work-sucks attitude home and let it eat away at your personal life — but you must resist that temptation. When you leave work at 5 p.m., leave everything work-related there in your office. Put a smile on your face and remind yourself that the rest of the day is yours to live as you please. Use this time wisely, and live it up. For me, that just means staying up a little later to do the things I enjoy in life, like watching Netflix or writing. Some may go out to happy hour on a Monday night or stay at the gym a little longer than usual. Whatever the case, do the things that feed your soul and really take advantage of your time away from work. Do not give in to the temptation to talk about work and how miserable it makes you when you're not there. That simply gives it more power, and it brings the misery home.
Being in a crappy job, feeling like you are Ready to Walk, and feeling defeated because of it is a dangerous place to be. Many have been there before, and the truth is, the lessons we learn from these challenging situations are likely to stick with us for a lifetime. Make the experience count in a positive way. Learn that you will not let someone else defeat you. Stick it out and try to do it with a big smile. And remember that like most things in life, both good and bad, this job is just temporary. You will not be in the same position, with the same boss and co-workers, in the same office forever. It just isn’t possible. It may feel permanent, but that feeling is a lie that will bring you down.
If you fall victim to this terrible Ready to Walk Syndrome, fight it from the inside: Commit to being the best you you can be, challenge yourself to find the light in a dark situation, and be the light to others... all while looking for another job, of course.
This post was written by Suzanne Hayes.