Written by Karen D. Swim
How was your vacation? “Oh man it was great,” she offered with obvious joy in her voice. She then hesitated and her voice dropped, “but it was a mistake to take off two weeks because now I don’t want to go back to work.”
Every Friday night, Eva leaves the office with a bounce on her step. By Saturday afternoon, she is counting the dreaded hours to Monday morning. By Sunday night she is so miserable that she is unable to enjoy the remaining hours of her weekend as she thinks about returning to work on Monday morning. Eva has Sunday Syndrome.
Understanding the Illness
Sunday Syndrome is one of the many glaring signs that it is time to evaluate your job. Over the years I have seen the syndrome so often that I can spot the signs even in absence of the words being spoken. You may be surprised how many people have traded “job security” for happiness. They convince themselves that it is easier to remain with the devil you know than to jump headfirst into the unknown. They are wrong.
Staying in a job that makes you miserable is an injustice to both you and your employer. You’re showing up and doing the work but believe it or not you and your employer deserve better. Your employer wants people who identify, improve, reduce, grow and generally contribute value to the organization. You want to be stimulated, challenged and engaged. When you and your employer are aligned, you both win.
Digging Deeper for a Diagnosis
Assess what really bothers you about your job. Is it the work or the environment? Are the deadlines and demands overwhelming or are you so bored that counting paint chips would be more exciting? Is it the company culture or just your department?
What do you like about your job? What tasks would you gladly perform even if they were not part of your job?
Choose the Right Cure
The obvious cure is to change your job, and if the company, culture and work are what’s ailing you then this is the path you should choose. However, many people fail to explore a less obvious but often viable option – change your job but keep the company.
Job roles and descriptions are not written in stone. Do you have ideas that will improve efficiency? Are there unfulfilled needs that you can manage in addition to your current duties? Can you volunteer for a special project? Are there unmet needs that would result in a newly created position? Prepare a written plan and present it to your supervisor. You should treat this as you would a formal interview for a brand new job. Identify the pros and cons and be prepared with answers. Assess the costs and the return on investment. If your supervisor is not immediately sold on the idea, propose a trial period in which you can measure the results and meet at the end of the period to discuss.
Whether you propose a brand new job, or modifications to your current one, you will never know what is possible until you ask.