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You have options when in a difficult job...

answered 02:06 PM EST, Mon April 23, 2012
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anonymous anonymous
I have a job right now that I don’t really like. Basically I am a new dad and my job demands that I be ready to work at any time, even evenings and weekends. The standard work week is probably close to 60 hours a week but it can be worse than this in busy periods. The work pays very well and because it pays very well there is a lot of pressure to perform up to a certain standard, no matter what is asked, and no matter whether you’re, for example, on the beach on vacation with your family or not.

I am tired of this lifestyle and I am tired of only getting to see my young son for a few minutes per day after getting home late in the evening. The problem is I really like the people I work for, especially my boss. In the past, I have had a lot of problems with a couple of bosses that were really riding me hard and this led me to have some anxiety and panic attack issues which it took me a lot of time, and medication, to get a handle on.

I am thinking that I want to change jobs so I can spend more time with my family. But every time I think seriously about actually making a move I start to imagine a situation again like I have had in the past with terrible bosses and I can feel my chest tightening and my heart racing in anxiety again. I know it sounds crazy to stay in a job I don’t like just to avoid a possible future bad boss, but the anxiety I was having before with one particular monster boss was just so bad and so debilitating that it is very scary to imagine going back to anything like that again.

To be honest, right now this is preventing me from making a move because I just can’t force myself to take active steps towards a move away from this high workload but low-anxiety situation. I don’t want to be on my deathbed some decades in the future though and realize that I stayed with a terrible job for 30 years because I was too afraid to do what I needed to do. How can I get past this so that the idea of something doesn’t cause my so much anxiety that I can’t even take action to try a new situation?

Dr. Katty Coffron Says...

Hi there,

I am familiar with the challenges you are facing as I've personally known the pressures of the high-tech world, such as the long work days, having to be away from family, and having to deal with office politics.

There are likely several options that you have in your situation, and a counselor or therapist can help you explore them all.  A couple that come to my mind are:

1. To address the anxiety you feel when you think about leaving your current job, you might want to consider a form of treatment called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.)  I suggest this approach, as it seems clear that a big part of your fears of moving forward come from the negative, maybe even traumatic past experiences you have had with former bosses. EMDR can help you put these past experience in perspective, reduce the anxiety you feel today when considering looking for a new job, and even prepare yourself with empowering responses in future similar experiences that could trigger some of the old fears.

2. On occasion, our fears get in the way of asking important questions in our current job that might help us or our employers make adjustments that would make the current job workable.  While this isn't always true, sometimes a well thought out conversation with a safe, thoughtful boss can lead to solutions we never imagined possible.  Having been a boss in a large high-tech firm, I know I appreciated the opportunity to understand the concerns my staff had and when possible, make the changes necessary to keep a valued employee. Again, a good therapist can help you explore this possibility, and evaluate if there is a way you take advantage of this option.

There are more options than I can possibly list here.  I do hope you explore these and others, because as you say, you don't want to let fear trap you in a terrible job for 30 years!  You only have one life to live and you want to live it well!

Good luck!

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Page last updated Apr 23, 2012

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