Is it time to walk away from a stressful workplace?

I frequently meet people who dread walking into their place of work and yet they continue entering the same doors. Others are unhappy with their relationships and yet they remain. Why do individuals repeatedly remain in a position or situation that causes them immense stress and fails to bring them happiness?? ?When I ask my clients this question, I hear two common responses: One, they become complacent and believe they will never find anything better. Two, they believe they are not worthy of anything better or they do not deserve a life of happiness.? ?

The latter was me. For years, I struggled to believe I was worthy of a life of happiness, and failed to accept that life was something that could be enjoyed. Thankfully, I have finally come to understand that I am worthy and have arrived at a point where I can say that it is good to be alive. The key, however, was that I needed to create my own happiness. After years of walking around like a victim, I have finally understood that if I wanted change, I was the only person in a position of power to create this change.? ?A significant amount of our lives is spent working. Repeatedly, I hear people say work is causing them to experience so much stress that it takes away from their ability to enjoy life. My question is always the same. I ask these individuals if they have communicated their stressors with their employers.

How do you think the majority of individuals respond? Is this a problem?

If your primary source of stress is coming from the workplace, then it might be a good idea to take a step back and examine your current situation a little closer. Many areas of life are beyond our control, especially the behaviour of the people around us. Rather than exerting energy on what is around you, direct your attention back to yourself. How much control do you actually have over your current situation?

It is well-known that it is not stress itself that causes problems, but rather your reaction to it. If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. To move forward, identify what you can do so the problem doesn’t present itself again in the future. Often this involves changing the way you communicate with others.

Ever since I was a young man, my dad always told me, “If the horse is dead, it is time to get off.” Sometimes, it is best to take what you learned from your place of work and seek out new employment. Your current lack of passion will not serve you well, nor your employer.

I listened to one man struggle to find the words to express how much he dreaded walking through the doors of his workplace. After one particularly long day at the office, he walked out to the parking lot but could not find his car. He explained that he sat down in the middle of the parking lot, cried and experienced his first meltdown. Thankfully, this served as the catalyst for him to seek alternate employment. Within a few weeks he began a new job filled with both passion and excitement.

Not everyone has the courage or ability to walk away from their job, even if it is a major source of stress. People can feel stuck and may not believe they can find happiness elsewhere. Financial reasons or fear of change may also play into their decision to remain.

My friend’s sister, Laura, was approaching her 70th birthday, and was counting down her remaining days of work. Laura had less than two years before she could retire in order to receive a pension. She did not enjoy her job and experienced many moments of high stress. However, she took comfort knowing that she would be able to enjoy life and take time for herself in the near future.

One morning, while at work, Laura experienced chest pain. Concerned, she went to the hospital for further examination. The doctors found some complications, and, sadly, two weeks later she passed away due to heart failure.

Life is interesting — you just never know what tomorrow will bring. Sometimes the only way your body can make you slow down is to shut down.

I recall one occasion when I was driving home after a memorable speaking engagement. As I navigated my way through the beautiful prairie landscape, I listened to Wayne Dyer’s audio book, 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace. One of his phrases stood out like black on white, and demanded my full attention. Dyer said, “Whatever your passion is, I promise you can make a living doing it.” It was in that moment that I decided I would make speaking the focus of my career. With four kids, a wife, a cat, two dogs and a few tanks of fish, I could not jump in with both feet. However, with the support of my wife, I began to dedicate more time and effort on making this passion of mine a reality. If you are passionate about your work, it does not seem like work. Dyer sold me on that simple but profound idea.

Take a moment to sit back and reflect on your surroundings. From your current position in the workplace to the relationships that surround you, you have created it all. You are the creator of your own reality and your own happiness. If you are not content with your life, you are the only one who is in a position of power to create a different outcome.? ?What do you want in life? It is yours to create. This is your journey.

Allan Kehler is a professional speaker based in Saskatoon. After years of perseverance through mental illness and addictions, he now inspires others to speak of their own personal challenges. He is the author of Stepping out from the Shadows: A Guide to Understanding & Healing From Addictions. He has conducted hundreds of lectures while gaining national attention. For more information contact Kehler at [email protected] or (306) 612-3233, or visit