Workplace Stress and Career Decisions
This last week I was contacted by a woman, who I will call Sally. Sally was very interested in pursuing a new career path after almost 10 years. What was driving her to make a change? Her boss!
She was in an abusive relationship with her boss for the last year. I have written about this topic in the past in the post Are You Leaving an Abusive Relationship, I Mean, Job?.
This violates one of my general principals in job search, run to your next career opportunity and not away from one. Unfortunately, stress at work will trigger our fight or flight instincts and if we are deep in stress we can make some really lousy decisions.
Quitting Your Job
Sally and I talked on the phone about her situation. She has good skills in a decent job market. it would be all about putting her through my evaluation, appropriately branding her and then pursuing a targeted job search. I sent her a proposal and we were negotiating a payment plan when Sally responded that she was turning in her resignation the next day. She was so stressed out by her boss that she was in crisis.
Sally and I got on the phone and discussed her situation.
I asked her – Do you have any sick days available”
Sally responded – Lots!
I responded – Take a sick day tomorrow and maybe the next.
Sally was able to schedule an appointment with her therapist for her sick day. She had a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication and took some.
Quitting your job in the middle of a stress-related anxiety attack is not the right thing to do, though it seems logical.
Healing on the Job
Sally is likely going to leave this job no matter what. She is pursuing taking some time off and getting a doctor’s order to do this. They could let her go in the next few months but that would have bought her some time to think things through and get healthy.
I have another client who is very driven but it was killing her. My advice to her is do not care so much about doing a great job at work. She has taken this advice and backed off. My client is now just doing her job, working from home, and meeting the job requirements. When told to take on extra work she refuses although politely and politically correctly. She is now healing on the job.
She will eventually be the target of the next layoff. The difference is she will be mentally and physically healthy.
Finding a Job When Under Stress
Finding a job when you are running away from a stressful situation is fraught with danger.
I wrote previously about this topic in the post Hate Your Job, Miserable, and No One Will Hire You?
When you are so miserable at work, you need to figure out how to fix it or at least how to reduce your stress. This might be taking a vacation, calling in sick, avoiding stressful situations, or even disappearing for long lunches. Your number one priority should be YOU!
Once, you have reduced your stress to the point where you can think straight, then is the time to pursue a new job.
Does Sally’s situation sound familiar? How did you handle it?