A bad day will happen sooner or later. As the movie Bull Durham refers to it sometimes it rains and the ball game gets canceled. It is inevitable these times will come and sometimes they even seem to last a few days or weeks. It can be minor annoyances, something not quite working right or something major and even crisis level but you can count on a bad day to happen. I don’t mean to sound down but if you look to all the great wisdom in our world there is a balance of yin and yang and this is just the way life works at times. It is hoped we can see these less than sunny days coming and even be prepared for them. We may even be able to avoid them for awhile but it happens because bad days are part of life.
I primarily see bad days happening at work. It seems this is the one area of my life I cannot necessarily control, adequately prepare enough for or avoid. It is these days I most dream about winning the lottery or even retiring and yet I know those are just soothing comforts that do little to solve the challenges in front of me. There are so many ways to have a bad day but at least for me it seems most of them are manifested at work and for a variety of reasons. When it comes to this I truly believe it is necessary for us to have ground rules and boundaries that we honor for our own health, well-being and financial livelihood.
First of all let’s talk about what a bad day at work should not be like but sadly sometimes is the case. A bad day at work should not because your boss or a coworkers is making your life a living hell for their own gain. This comes in the form of unreasonable deadlines, constant not good enough changes to something or just flat out being blamed for something you had no part in. It feels like a setup for someone else to look good. These situations happen all the time in the workplace because we are situated in a way to compete with each other for top roles that are limited in numbers, promotions and raises, glory and recognition for winning. It is an extreme sport of the most hurtful kind at times but I say treating each other like this should not be tolerated or promoted.
A bad day at work should also not be the result of someone else’s poor planning, decisions and crisis. I am all about helping each other but when someone waits until the last minute for something they needed to do or needed help on and it becomes my problem I take issue with that. My working late while you have dinner with your family as a result of that is also unacceptable. Here too, a lot of us have encountered this situation and we do it even when we don’t like it because well we need that job right? Our day and even evening gets ruined because of someone else’s inability to forecast, plan and prepare adequately.
A bad day at work should not be the result of not having proper effective leaders who don’t have your back when it matters. Yes this too happens all the time. We talk about management all the time but yet effective leadership is a skill not trained or reinforced in most companies. There are way too many poor managers out there and we will work for a few of them in our careers. They have a special talent for making bad days frequent too.
A bad day at work should not be the all too often situation of working so many hours until you have nothing left in your body to give and yet still have hours of work to do. When you dread getting up in the morning to log back into your job that is not a good sign. When you cringe at the thought of recurring meeting with certain people that’s not healthy either. When you lose sleep over what happened in the day or what you are dreading in the tomorrow at work, these are all bad day indicators that none of us deserve on an ongoing basis.
What often happens is we reach a stretch of these types of bad days and we start updating our resume. We hope things will get better but we quietly start looking at the job boards online and even reaching out to some of our network to see how things are going. It may be a quiet activity we are doing in any spare minute we have but we are slowly reaching that break point of putting up with bad days.
While scary as hell a bad day at work or a string of those days are not your fault most of the time. Nor are these situations career ending even though they constantly feel like you’re going to be fired from them. You may indeed get blamed but most often is the case they realize you’ll put up with this bad behavior and keep you around for that purpose. The important part to remember as you stay in that situation is to not let it define you, what you are capable of and how you are as a person.
I have had a lot of bad days at work in my career. The trend I see is that sometimes changing jobs is the right choice, usually it is. Once a place goes toxic like this even though you otherwise like the company you will never fully escape it until you leave entirely. A company that lets that occur in any sector of its organization is a company that allows it anywhere. Now this is however is truly important to realize, almost all companies will have this one area or two where this is going to happen, regardless of where you go.
The options to dealing with this are to put up with it as long as you can or until you find a new job. If you choose this please don’t let them see you cry, sweat or give it back to them in the same way they dish it out. Trust me, you do this and you lose every time. While what they are doing is wrong, your outburst against it will not end well for you. Human Resources is also not your friend. Their job is to protect the company’s interest from lawsuits and other public situations. They are not your advocate. They will view this as you being the problem and that manager even though they are the worst thing ever will keep their job most of the time.
The other harsh truth is you can spend your entire career going job to job and even moving up the ladder but these situations will happen in every single company. I know first hand this to be true. There are jerks everywhere who are only out there self-serving their own interests because well we all need to take care of ourselves and this is how they have figured out how to do that. You won’t change them. You also need to be mindful of what this does to your physical and mental health because the stress of these situations can be significant.
The option that so many have turned to help in these situations is a side business or job. Something that offsets the pain, frustration, challenge of their primary job and maybe eventually will replace that primary job’s income. It gives us a release to let us know we are not the problem. A space we can see it is truly not our skill, experience, capability or anything about us at all. It also gives us income that we can grow. Investing in the right thing here is critical to seeing long term residual income that can prosper and give us that hope we don’t have to put up with another corporate career that treats us poorly.
For me that consisted of creating Dragonspit Apothecary and pouring any spare minute I have into making this grow. I was tired of those corporate toxic situations and burned out from it all. I was really starting to feel like it was me that was the problem. My self-esteem, confidence crushed on the floor while my health suffered with weight gain from emotional eating and no time to workout or take care of my own needs. It was how I thought life should be lived in order to earn a needed paycheck and I realized I was the only person who could change that story.