We all get into patterns with work that can be hard to break free. Before we can make meaningful changes and create a more positive work life for ourselves, there are certain steps we need to take. Here are my five recommendations to help anyone recalibrate or reframe their relationship to their work.

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How to change your attitude at work in 5 steps

Step 1: Clarity

Before you can recalibrate or reframe your relationship to your work, you must be clear on what your current relationship to your work is. At Pavo Navigation coaching, the tool we use to gain it is the “Sword of Clarity.” The metaphorical sharp edges cut away illusion, confusion and anything that blocks what is true. The Sword of Clarity is always in service to help create abundance for all and only cuts away what is not real. Clarity creates space and opportunity for choice. You can start by using these few prompts to get an idea about what the truth of your work relationship is today.

  • Are you fulfilled?
  • Does it get you excited, bring you joy?
  • Do you feel drained and depleted at the end of the day, or the beginning?
  • Are you regularly feeling overwhelmed and/or stressed?

Step 2: Permission

Once you have clarified where you are at with work (perhaps you admit you are deeply unhappy, angry, resentful, scared or just plain exhausted) give yourself permission to feel every and all emotion that comes up for you. Pavo Navigation regularly reminds our clients that we have been taught to surface only “appropriate” emotions, especially about work. These are emotions that appear to be positive, productive, nice and for women, caring, and committed. When we do not authentically feel this way about our work but don’t allow ourselves to be honest about it, we are shutting ourselves down. Stuffing away the “perceived-to-be inappropriate” emotions only makes them expand and grow. So, let yourself honestly feel what you feel about your work without judgement! Choose from the following to release them from your body and mind.

  • Write them down on paper and burn it (safely), symbolically letting them rise into the universe with the smoke.
  • Shout them into a pillow, hit or throw it hard onto the floor until you can’t anymore.
  • Dance, jump or otherwise move your body to music that feels like purging, energetic tunes of release.
  • Journal.

Step 3: Own it!

Congratulate yourself for being honest about your relationship to work! We have been taught to just keep going, grind it out, get through it. Focusing your will on cutting away the illusion allows you to own the truth. You are a courageous person and therefore unstoppable. Once you take this bold step of bringing awareness to what is real, you are changing the habits and patterns of your life and the energies that go along with them.

  • Own that you have been a part of creating the current reality of your work environment. And let it go without judgment.
  • Own that you have been following a narrative society has given you about sticking it out and climbing the ladder, and now look at that as only a story.
  • Own that societal stories have been driving your professional decisions (“If I admit I am unhappy, I will lose everything,” “I have to stay or I will not find anything better,” “A real professional is tough and unaffected by toxicity and dysfunction,” etc.).
  • Own that once you see the stories motivating you, you have a choice.

Step 4: Choose

A foundational tool in the Pavo Navigation toolbox is realizing that we have choice, not control. This is a critical distinction. The narrative that has shaped us and the way we do business (whether corporate, start-ups, non-profits, recreational or religious) teaches us that if we plan well enough, build the right process, checklist and manage the project perfectly we will get the outcome we want. The reality is, we are not in control of any outcome. The power tip is this: we do have choice and that is far more powerful. You get to choose how you interact with colleagues, deadlines, pressure, toxic behavior and the future you desire.

  • Identify the stories that have been driving you in your professional life.
  • Ask, “Do I want to continue to feed this story with my energy, time and resources?”
  • If no, ask, “What story do I want to drive my professional life and how I feel about work?”
  • If yes, ask, “What about this story does not serve my health and life? How can I adjust it so that it does?”

Step 5: Desire and dream

The clarity you have created, the permission you’ve given yourself, the identification of narratives that no longer serve you and the affirmation that you own the power to choose brings you to the final step: expose, see and celebrate your deepest desires and dreams for your life, professional and personal.

It is time to get back in touch with what it is you truly want for your whole life. I strive always to coach the whole person. We are not two separate individuals: one personal, the other professional. We are whole and the narratives (which you have now identified) that shape our behavior in our professional lives also show up in our personal lives. And vice versa. You can use the Sword of Clarity here to cut away old stories, illusions and supposed tos, to reconnect yourself to what you authentically want and desire.

  • What do you dream of resulting from the number of hours you work?
  • What level of flexibility do you desire from your job?
  • How much vacation/travel time do you want?
  • What is the dream compensation package you desire?
  • What do you want to feel like on Sunday when you are anticipating Monday?

All five of these steps can help kick start a process to help you understand your current relationship with work and transform it into one that is more mindful, intentional and healthy. For additional guidance or to speak to a professional, Pavo Navigation is one of many resources that can help you navigate this process in a thoughtful and organized way.

A version of this post was published February 1, 2021. It has been updated.