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Does your place of employment feel like a prison? Time to break out!

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

Workplace resource,

If someone asked you whether or not you’ve ever been incarcerated what would you say? According to a recent survey only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their jobs.

So a whopping 55 percent of Americans are reporting to a job they are unhappy with. That 55 percent are doing time on the job. When most people think of being incarcerated, the picture may include a jail cell, a striped uniform, shackles and chains. However, when doing time on the job the jail cell becomes a cubicle, office or classroom, the striped uniform may be a suit and tie and the shackles and chains is the fear of leaving that place of employment and that fear is what keeps someone incarcerated in a job they dislike. Take a moment and answer the following questions to help you determine if you’re doing time on your job. Do you clock in and begin to watch the minutes of your workday drag by the same way an inmate watches the days, months and years of his/her sentence drag on?

Are you constantly looking over your shoulder for ‘The Man?’  AKA your supervisor? Do you see your immediate boss as a warden? Someone you see only when being reprimanded? Can you approach him/her without intimidation to discuss new ideas you have? Now ask yourself are you in the 45% that enjoys what they are currently doing?

Or are you part of the 55% that are doing time on the job? Here’s the good news if you are in that 55 percent. You can begin to plan and execute your own escape. But before you bust out of (Shawshank) your current place of employment and run out looking for a new job, that escape you are looking for might not be necessary. The change you need may just be right under your nose, but you’ll need a clear V.I.S.I.O.N. to decide.

V. Variety in your workplace.

Create variety by changing the way your workspace looks and feels. Give your cubicle or office a makeover. If you can rearrange the furniture, begin there. Find a painting or picture that provides inspiration and hang it on your wall where you can see it. Replace those old family pictures on your desk with new updated ones giving your workspace a new updated feel. You can break the monotony of doing the same thing every day by finding variety in the way you’ve done things for the past few years. Example; if you’re used to arriving right on time, go in early and have a cup of coffee and converse with a co-worker you don’t know very well. This may sound crazy, but notify your supervisor of something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do. Learning new things can spark new interest in the workplace and gives you something to look forward to. This will also let your supervisor know that you are ambitious and are willing to try new things in order to support the team. On a side note, the more you know how to do, the more valuable you become. Finding variety is one key to avoiding a life sentence of boredom and monotony.

I. Invest in yourself.

Look for new ways to add value to YOURSELF! For example, are there classes available that teach new innovative ways to do what you are currently doing? This may require a financial investment; you attending classes or seminars on weekends or at night. If these are not options, perhaps there are newsletters or

blogs that you can subscribe to that may give you a leg up when working in a very competitive field. "NEWSFLASH!" today every field is competitive! Maybe there are books, DVD’s, CD’s or a podcast you can purchase to watch or listen to? Find what works for you, but find a way to invest in yourself, as this adds value to YOU, that can’t be taken away or ignored. Learning new things and documenting them can parole you from a current position or rate of pay.

S. Self-Talk.

When the ship is going down, it’s very easy for us to go down with it. Our thoughts are the rudder that guides us. When you find yourself down, pick yourself up with positive self-talk. When your alarm clock goes off, make a conscience effort to smile. Every time you pass a mirror make a point to stop for a second, look at your reflection and smile as big as you possibly can. I will sometimes say something to my reflection like, "DANG, YOU ARE LOOKIN’ GOOD!" Try it and notice what it does to your attitude and your altitude! As you’re heading into your workplace, tell yourself, ‘It’s a great day to be alive!’ Repeat that to yourself a few times. Tell yourself, ‘Today is going to be an awesome day!‘ Do these things and you’ll find that no matter how your day began, your outlook will change. After a few weeks or so, a good attitude will become a habit and it will become easier to accomplish your goals and your job will become more enjoyable. You will no longer see your workplace as a place of penance, but a place of opportunity.

I. Ignore negative people and surround yourself with those that still enjoy what they do.

Find that new employee and instead of telling that person all that is wrong with your job, listen to their enthusiasm and feed off of it. Ask them what ideas they have. You will find that by surrounding yourself with positive people, you will begin to feed off of their energy and come up with new innovative ideas and you will begin to see the positive things that your job has to offer. Surrounding yourself with negative people will do the exact opposite. You will begin to see all that is wrong and your attitude will quickly begin to mirror that of the negative person or people you have chosen to surround yourself with. Like a chain gang, you want to attach yourself to others that are on their way up the ladder and not standing at the bottom with others discussing how many rungs it’s going to take to get to the top.

O. Open your eyes to new opportunity.

Many employees that find themselves incarcerated by their jobs have become blind to the many opportunities that exist in their workplace. Today’s employees must put themselves in a position to shine. On my way to becoming the General Manager of a successful multi-million dollar business, there was a need for a bilingual supervisor, so I began learning Spanish so that I could communicate with everyone. Because I’m not a native Spanish speaker, walking around speaking Spanish did not go unnoticed by the owners of the company and I was promoted. I had a fear of speaking in public, so I joined a Toastmasters organization and upon completing various levels, certificates were mailed to my employer. I was creating value in myself, and kept my eyes open to new opportunities. There are always opportunities available, but we must open our eyes and be willing to step outside of our normal comfort zone.

N. Never fear change.

Most people do not like change, they fear it- Have you ever been asked to take a detour from your normal route? How did you respond when you saw the orange sign that read DETOUR AHEAD? Did you panic because you thought you’d be late to your destination? Were you afraid you’d get lost? Have you ever taken a detour and noticed a restaurant or business you didn’t know was there? Change is an opportunity to find new ways to do things and find new things that may interest you. When you hear the word change you must condition yourself to think OPPORTUNITY! As our economy changes, companies must not only except it, but embrace it. Businesses must look for ways to change what they do and how they do them. Not being open to change can force a business to close its doors and an employee to lose their job. So if you’re an employee, employer or entrepreneur, look for ways that change can help you become better at what you do every day. Change should be looked at as adapting in order to survive. Many inmates that have been incarcerated for years, become fearful as their release day draws near. They have done the same thing over and over the same way, day in, day out. The thought of changing that routine causes many of them to deliberately re-offend in an effort to return to what has become comfortable. Doing time on the job is no different. Employees will remain in a job they don’t like, because it has become comfortable for them and they are afraid of change. Not fearing change is the last key to having a clear V.I.S.I.O.N. do not fear changing your position, or changing your job completely if necessary.

Following these few steps will parole you from doing time on the job!

Feel free to comment or add more useful information and examples.

Motivational Speaker, Ian J. Humphrey is available for Keynote presentations, workshops and breakout sessions for your next event and travels from Colorado. For information on availability, please email us today.

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