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Shake Off the Old Job to be Happy at Work

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My first full-time role after earning my master’s degree, literally imploded one afternoon in a matter of minutes.

Not that my relationship with the organization had any indication of going sour — it was a great entrance into the world of work — and began gloriously. Over my tenure, I was offered increased responsibility, earned a promotion and worked with a lot of great people. I felt it was my dream role.

However, there was one colleague in particular, determined to make my ride a very bumpy one. (I was entirely unaware of the brewing competitive dynamic.) When all was said and done, I was left standing in front of my car, at 4:00 PM on a Friday with a box of my personal belongings. It was awful. I cried quite a few tears over that weekend. It took time (and work) to move through that experience.

I listen to stories of work and career nearly every day — and if you listen closely, trends do begin to appear. One that I often see, is “leftover” emotions or associations from previous job experiences. Like other negative experiences outside of our work lives, you have to work through completely them before you can offer the next experience a fair chance. If something is left unresolved (whether related to a person or experience), it may rear its ugly head once again.

Consider the following:

  • Note the trends. If you find yourself getting tripped up in the same general area where you have experienced issues previously, acknowledge the pattern. For example, you find you lack trust in your co-workers/supervisor or you patently avoid presentations.
  • Reflect. Be mindful and take a moment to see where the pattern may have originated. What negative experiences are re-surfacing? Were you criticized when making presentations and this now deters you from speaking in front of others? Were you treated unfairly in another role?
  • Keep things in their place. As human beings we tend to draw similarities between situations and individuals that we meet. However, that dynamic can backfire. Your boss from your role 5 years ago may seem much like your current supervisor — however, they are not the same person. You can create new problems, by treating them as such.
  • Share your concerns. Talk to your supervisor, mentor or trusted individual about your concerns. The only way to process the “leftovers” is to acknowledge the situation and speak of them openly. Make every effort to move through your obstacles — it is worth the time and trouble.

Of course, we are all individuals. So, be patient with yourself. Hopefully as time goes on, you’ll find your career is back on track.

Have you had this experience? How did you address it?

About the Author

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist who specializes in workplace success strategies and organizational change. She helps individuals, teams and organizations develop intelligently—to meet work life challenges with a sense of confidence and empowerment.