If you’re among the 65 percent of Americans who feel disengaged at work, you probably think you only have three options: Quit the job. Stay and suffer. Or activate that backup escape plan. The first two options are unpleasant. The third? Whether you become a yoga teacher or an organic farmer – it would most likely upend your entire life.
Plus, why quit a job you trained, studied, and practically bled to get? And why lose some of the benefits that come with your nine-to-five, like stability and work-life balance?
But don’t worry. There’s a fourth option. You have more control over the situation than you think.
The key message here is: You have control over what your job looks like.
The relationship between you and your employer is a social contract. The terms dictate that both sides have expectations and responsibilities toward each other. In other words, the relationship must benefit both sides.
Consider sociologist George Homans’s social exchange theory. It puts the give-and-take aspect of relationships through a cost-benefit analysis. It states the importance of evaluating the risks against the benefits. Imagine a friend repeatedly sticks you with the dinner bill. You might one day decide that the cost, or risk, of that friendship outweighs the fun.
So, ask yourself, What benefits do I get from my job? Salary? Achievements? Impact? And What does my job get from my contributions? Is it a healthy relationship that benefits both of us? And since commitment ultimately impacts your level of fulfillment, use this analysis to assess your commitment to the job also.
Knowing all this grants you a certain power. You don’t have to wait for your manager to change the relationship’s dynamic by giving you whatever it is you’re lacking. Instead, you can use this newfound clarity to change the dynamic proactively.
We know that change is scary. But what would happen if you didn’t try? Probably more dreadful days at work, right? On the other hand, imagine how good life would be if you could make the changes that lead to happiness at work instead.