26 Nov 2016 14:35 IST

Being happy in corporate life

Disillusionment sets in quite early in people’s careers. Here’s how you can get over it

The last article in this column spoke about how many management school graduates, especially those who have just joined the workforce, are disillusioned with corporate life. While managing expectations is one way of curbing such disillusionment, the other facet is to understand emotional states and their influence.

This is important, especially in the context of the emotional high that management students experience towards the end of their course. Then, the contrast of having to manage the daily routine and job pressures at office makes the dissatisfaction worse.

Atmosphere of joy

Towards the end of any management programme, the academic pressure eases off and a feeling of celebration sets in — celebrating placements, farewell parties, and last hang-out sessions with friends are very common, and all these set the mood for the remaining period on campus. By and large, students are relaxed — they enjoy themselves. Their achievements in terms of a good placement or even just getting the coveted MBA, add to the jubilation.

Most students go back home for a brief period, where there are further celebrations, with proud family members fussing around them. Catching up with friends, sleeping late and other such activities only establish the festive mood more firmly.

Coming back to reality

Soon, the joining date arrives. Most organisations send the new recruits to an induction programme that is filled with different activities. This usually sustains the celebratory mood, enhanced by the excitement of a new job.

But after all this, when the person is sent into an actual role, to do the job he or she has been hired for, the excitement bubble slowly deflates, much like the period after Diwali or any major festival.

Suddenly, the days become full of routine tasks and a million things to complete; suddenly, there is pressure to perform and deliver; there’s no time for anything other than work; the days seem to just flow from one into the other, and they are always filled with work.

In addition to these sudden changes, if a person is unfortunate enough to get a bad boss, the situation turns from bad to worse.

It is no wonder that so many people who start their careers get disillusioned very fast. However, the fact is that this disillusionment is neither real nor permanent. The individual will be able to get over such a challenging phase faster if he/she is aware of the reasons behind this disillusionment.

How to deal with it

One simple way to manage this disillusionment is to have, what I call, a box of small joys. I suggest that everyone starting their career — in fact, even those who have worked for many years — do this.

List out the things you love doing — it could even be something small, like buying a shirt, watching a movie or going on a short trip. Write down, on a small piece of paper, the various things which could potentially give you joy. Keep in mind that the things you write down should be practical and doable.

Fold this paper and keep it in a small box or container. Every time you feel low, take the paper out of the box and do whatever is written on it. Then, consciously link these small joys to your job and the fact that the job provides you with the money to indulge in the same. This will help minimise the disillusionment, if not remove it completely.

Another tip to handle being discouraged and disappointed is to constantly remind yourself that everything has to change — that is the fundamental law of the universe. Therefore, the situation which is upsetting you has to change. This is where a career orientation, instead of a job orientation, will help. You can read more about this in my earlier article, ' Build a career, don't just be in a job '.

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