If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
You’re sitting at your desk, and your soul is slowly being eaten away.
It feels like this job is the worst place you could be. You’d do almost anything to get out.
But you can’t.
You can’t because you don’t know what do next, and leaving without a plan is just too scary.
You’re facing a choice between an uncertain future if you leave, or one that’s more certain, but certainly bad if you stay.
I’m convinced there is another way.
Instead of seeing a choice between our job exactly as it is now, and an uncertain world outside of it, what if we asked a different question?
What if we asked:
What would need to change in this job to make me enjoy it again?
Maybe it’s more autonomy, more responsibility, less interference, a bigger team, a smaller team.
The ability to set your own hours. The being able to work remotely. A slightly different role within the same company.
It might not be any of these, but chances are there’s something that would make a difference for you.
Force yourself to answer the question, and write down the answer. You might be surprised. Small changes can transform how you feel about your job.
Then we can ask:
What would it take to make those changes happen?
What if I asked for those changes?
This will be scary. It will feel uncomfortable. It might even feel cheeky.
But it’s nowhere near as scary as deciding that the only thing to do is quit immediately.
It’s even less scary than suffering forever in a job that’s eating away at your soul.
What have you got to lose by asking?
Think about what no would mean. Structuring your request in the right way should mean even a negative answer is unlikely to mean you get fired.
Maybe you’ll get a flat our no – in which case at least you know, and have more reasons to leave.
But in my (and my client’s) experience, no isn’t the usual answer. You may not get everything on your wish list immediately (and you shouldn’t ask for them all at once) but you are highly likely to get at least a counter suggestion:
You – I’d like to be able to work at home every other week.
Your boss – Hmm, I’m not sure we could do that, but what about if you tried working at home every other Friday?
That would be slightly better than now, right?
You could do that for a few weeks, prove it works, then have a further conversation:
About these work at home Fridays – I find I’m at least twice as productive [shows evidence of super productive outputs] Could we consider upping it to Thursday and Friday? I’m pretty sure I could achieve [big very productive outcome] in a month if we agreed that.
A difficult request to turn down, right?
Yes, this takes a little guts, but a moment of being uncomfortable in the short term while you ask, can have a big payoff in the long run.
This will benefit your employer too. If you agree some terms which are more aligned to what you want, what’s it going to do to your loyalty and affinity to that company?
Chances are you’ll be more productive, and more loyal – because it would be harder to find a a job like that elsewhere. It really is in everyone’s interest to agree to these type of changes.
That’s why you don’t want to ask for everything all at once. Go incrementally, make the decisions easy for your boss and then both reap the rewards.
If it feels like all you have is two choices: the rock of an unfulfilling job, and the hard place of jumping into the unknown, try asking yourself what needs to change and then request that change.
Make one uncomfortable ask and be surprised at how much things improve.