If You Feel Like You're Wasting a Lot of Time Waiting for Your Circumstances to Change, Try This


Many of you reading this article are going through the motions at work and possibly in your life. You're unable to move forward because you're waiting in limbo. The problem is that you are caught up in what Your Office Mom likes to call the "If only____then I could ____" Syndrome. You are waiting for someone to come along and change your circumstances. Or, you are waiting for something to happen that changes your circumstances. Either way, it's a position of weakness and powerlessness, so consider this work advice your little pep talk.

For whatever reason, that feeling of being powerless is difficult to get past. Here are some typical manifestations of the "If only____then I could ____" Syndrome that you may experience, and there are many more.

  • If only this job were more challenging, then I would be happier and more satisfied.

  • If only I would get that pay increase then I could move to a new apartment.

  • If only my company had better tuition benefits, I could go back to school.

  • If only I could get more training, then I could get into management.

  • If only there were more internal job opportunities, then I could move up in my career.

Notice the similarities in these statements? The "If only____then I could ____" mindset makes you a victim of your circumstances, and it's not a helpful strategy to get what you want in the world. Rather than waiting or pointing the finger at someone else, here are three tips to help you get on with what you want in your work life.

1. Take Control

Nobody ever got ahead or did anything in a position where they felt they had no control or power. You probably have both, but somewhere, somehow along the way you relinquished it. Maybe it's because you feel like you never had it at all, but you do.

You may not have the power to get up and walk out the door if you don't like your job, but you do have the power to do something that impacts your situation. You just have to figure out what that is. And it all starts with your mindset. Learn this early in your career, and obstacles and roadblocks will begin to dissipate.

 2. Change your perception

Granted, you may not be able to change your situation, but you can change your perception. When you change your mindset, you change your perspective and see something through a different lens or from a different viewpoint. So, let's say you feel stuck in your current job, and you're looking for internal and external opportunities. Rather than dreading each workday, feeling trapped, being a passive bystander, and playing the waiting game until that new opportunity lands in your lap, how about changing your outlook about your current situation? How about actively engaging? How about volunteering for a project? How about taking advantage of a learning program on the chance you learn something of value? How about teaching yourself a skill you desperately need? You can discover many ways to improve your circumstances for the better instead of waiting idly by until the stars align.

 3. Make a plan

All too often, people wait for stuff to change on its own. Or, they have a plan, but it's so vague that it doesn't stand a chance of ever being accomplished. According to the author and personal effectiveness expert, Brian Tracy, only 3% of adults have clear, written, specific goals. That's a shame because they accomplish 5-10% more than everyone else. So planning is essential, and you need to be clear, specific, and deliberate in your plan and the required actions. As a young professional, you want to have both short and long term goals and plans to help you get there.

Although you want a solid action plan, you don't want to be so rigid that you miss opportunities. For example, let's say you want to go back to college, but you lack the finances to do so. In the interim, you may feel stuck. However, there are cost-effective or free learning opportunities available online, at a local college, or at work. Yet, you may not sign up because the course is not exactly what you want to learn, or you think you'll be wasting your time. This type of thinking prevents you from actively learning new ideas, that can round out your skillset, and you miss out on an excellent developmental activity.

If you take control of your situation, have the right mindset, and create a plan, you can stop wasting time and waiting for your circumstances to change. You will discover you are much more powerful and in control than you thought.

What is your "If only____then I could ____" dilemma? Take a moment to think about it and determine how these 3 tips apply. And share your feedback!