I was reading a few posts to one of my latest blogs (I read

all of them by the way – even if I often don’t have time to reply), and I am

sometimes disheartened by the negativity of people’s responses—not toward me or

my posting, but to their job situations. If you comb the TR discussions or any

board where people can comment, you can find a lot of hostility and pent-up

frustration. Partly, this is a function of this kind of medium—in that people’s

responses are a way of venting in a safe place. However, I think there is more

to it than that.

First, there is the fact that working in a support function

(which IT typically is in most organizations) is very challenging. You have to

try to meet the needs of everyone, and for the most part, attempt to keep your

customers happy. Customers, by the way, who are stressed, as overworked as you

are, and often have no clue about or desire to learn more about the technology

tools provided to them.

Second, your work is often involved in/with organizational
change – which is one of the hardest tasks to perform.

Third, if you go by many of the posts, decent managers are

few and hard to find. (I happen to think there are plenty of good ones as well,

but few write about them).

Now, given that I have just supplied you with three excuses

for why you might have a bad/negative attitude toward your IT job and some

objects of blame for it, I am going to say that our attitudes are our own

responsibility. What we bring to work, how we approach our work, and how our

work affects us is a function of our own personalities and personal choices

that we make every day.

Let me give you some examples of what I mean. I knew someone

who liked to grab every last minute of sleep he possibly could before waking

up, and when the clock went off he entered a frenzy: shower, mess with the

hair, shave, take care of a pet, and blow out the door as if his hair was on

fire. He would grab breakfast on the way to work and build ZERO flexibility

into his schedule so that any delay caused him extreme stress. Needless to say,

when he actually arrived at work, this frenzied mood stayed with him throughout

the day. While he was extremely effective at his job, he was not a happy person

at work.

Another person I know worked in a non-managerial support

function in an organization. She performed her job well, but was overly

concerned with the performance and decision making of management in her

organization. And while the concerns were legitimate, she did not have the power

to change things.

In both of these situations, much of the individual’s job

stress was self inflicted. For the first person, all it took was getting up 30

minutes early to change how he approached the work day. Suddenly, the day

didn’t start as a crisis, and he had a major attitude change. The change was

somewhat forced upon him by a spouse, but over time he came to see the wisdom

of this shift.

The second individual failed to realize that the thing she

was stressing about the most simply was not in her job description or pay

grade. While workplace stupidity can be aggravating, it is also pretty common,

and it’s something you need to be able to deal with. That’s not to say that you

can’t attempt to change your organization for the better, but keep in mind what

YOUR responsibilities are and don’t sweat the things you can’t control. Do your

job as well as you are allowed to do so.

I know another individual (me) who worked for an

organization that paid him well to perform a task but then placed every road

block possible in the way. This organizational ineptitude did not keep me from

successfully performing the task. I worked my tail off to accomplish the

objective, but during the time I was working on it I was extremely unhappy. I

finished the task on time and on budget, and then got the heck out.

In our jobs, we often fail to take a reality check of our

situation and to step back and examine things as an outside observer. Is the

situation at work truly intolerable, and whose fault is it really? How much of

your misery is contributed by yourself? Only you can control your attitude and

emotions and how you react to situations.

We also box ourselves into situations that, in fact, we have

the power to change, but we may not have the guts to do so. Many people stay in

bad work situations for many years hoping for a miraculous change or because

they feel that their circumstances prevent them from leaving. In fact, we

usually create our own jail.

I went unemployed for nine months at the height of one of

our nation’s worse job recessions primarily because I limited my job search to

my hometown or somewhere nearby because of family. I had also just built a new house a few years before and didn’t

want to leave it. But you know what? No one wants to live with a miserably

depressed person simply for the sake of staying in one place. I could have had

other jobs during that time – had I had the conviction to move. Eventually, I

came to my senses and realized that hard decisions had to be made and that some

changes were going to have to be made in order for life to get back to normal.

While it was hard to do, I left my new home, my friends, my extended family,

and my wife and I relocated in order for me to find the kind of job I wanted.

It wasn’t easy – but life goes on, and we are doing better now career-wise than

we ever have.

All of this is to say that we have a great deal of control

in shaping our realities. If you hate your job, try to rationally determine

why. It may be you, it may be the job, and it may be a combination of things.

Figure out what they are and DO something

about it, whether that is changing personal habits, getting training, going

back to school, talking with your boss, seeking counseling, moving on to

another opportunity, or even a new line of work. Just don’t suffer due to

inertia or fear.

Lastly, there is no such thing as the perfect job.

Even if you are in one of those situations in which your work is also your

passion, there will be things that make you want to scream. That’s why it’s

called work and that is why they pay you for it. So take a deep breath, make

some private time, and do a self assessment. It’s a healthy thing to do and it

keeps you growing, both personally and professionally.