How to Transition from Job Surviving to Work Thriving

David Shindler is a coach, facilitator, speaker, and blogger on jobs, careers and employability development. He is also the author of “Learning to Leap, a Guide to Being More Employable”.
The old dichotomy was between living to work and working to live. It was either/or and, often, work took over people’s lives to the detriment of their health and wellbeing. Today, the lines are blurrier. Increasingly, work-life balance is becoming an unattainable goal. The online and offline worlds are changing our ways of living and working with a whole life approach a more realistic aim than balance. It presents an opportunity to move from job surviving to work thriving. How can you spot the difference and make it happen?

Cold comfort

If you have been in the same job for a while, there are some things that become comfortable to do. You know how to do them and you perform them regularly. You go on automatic pilot. So long as you still meet requirements, that’s fine – up to a point.

At a personal level, that can get boring or mundane. The energy can disappear and it can lead to demotivation or itchy feet for something better. However, there are times when being in your comfort zone is the right place to be. For example, after a stressful and demanding period inside or outside of work.

Managing yourself well starts with self-awareness and continues with informed decision-making.

Warm feelings

That said, today, employers want their employees to be more like partners in developing and improving the organisation for users or customers. It means being proactive and taking the initiative without waiting to be told to jump. Learning takes place when you operate from a position of confidence, productive energy, and commitment. You are up for it! You experience healthy stretch, challenge, and stimulation in your work.

Hot flushes

Unhealthy stress occurs when you are no longer in control. Stuff gets done to you, you have no choices, demands are unreasonable, and your voice is not heard. You get stuck on job and career tramlines and can’t get off. Depression and burnout can creep up on you without noticing. That’s when it’s too late and you may need help.

What should you look out for?

  • When in your comfort zone, recognise when it’s time to learn and leap. But accept when it’s the right place to be for your wellbeing and job survival.
  • Aim to spend time learning and growing to feed your sense of purpose and motivation, and to truly thrive at work. Use it as a springboard for change in your job or to change jobs and career. Use your mental toughness to be at your best, show your character in action, and seize opportunities when the going gets rough.
  • Retreat from unhealthy stress back to your comfort zone as a way of getting on an even keel again. Don’t leap straight back into learning and growth because you won’t be in the right mindset to benefit. Get back into your comfort zone to rest, recharge, and build your resilience. Go again when you are ready.

Managing yourself well starts with self-awareness and continues with informed decision-making. Spot the difference between job surviving and work thriving. Check your personal thermostat for the warning signs so you can make considered choices about making the transition from one to the other. Take control and then you can learn to leap when the time is right for you.


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