Are You Suffering from 9-5 Apathy?

Greetings fellow BAs. As you know, I’ve written before about how you are in control of your own career, progress, destiny, whether you wear matching shoes to work, etc. I’ve been thinking for a while about a new blog post and keep coming back to this topic, but don’t want to rehash the same ole’ diatribe. THIS TIME, IT’S GONNA BE DIFFERENT!!!BETTER!!!!HUGE!!!!

I want to talk about defining moments in our careers that can serve to suck the life out of us or distinguish us from others. As the title suggests, 9-5 apathy is a chronic, often fatal disease in which we go to work, do our drudgery during the allotted hours, keep our head down, don’t make waves and go home to our real lives… only to repeat the next day… until we keel over. For some, this is fine. Don’t get me wrong. In my mind, family is the most important priority by a long shot. What I’m getting at is that if you are frustrated at work, unhappy or seek something “with meaning,” I’d like to offer a few thoughts.

You can trudge through the day blind and dull, or you can capitalize on opportunities that appear to be negatives to see how you get through them positively. Seek these and test yourself to outperform what you think you are capable of.

Do I Really Want to Be Part of This?

We all see dysfunction and poor practices, chaos and entropy. Sometimes, it’s hard to fathom how organizations actually keep the doors open, much less make money. These issues have a way of increasing in scope and size, because they are not addressed or become ignored. Just like positive behavior feeds on itself, so it happens with negative behavior. Each time we perform poorly without accountability, act irresponsibly, allow unethical practices, or do the bare minimum to get by, we take one step further toward bad habits forming.

Amazingly, it really doesn’t take much to turn the tide the other way, though it can be difficult in entrenched environments that have those habits formed already. So, you know it’s wrong and you have a a choice on the action you wish to take.

Let it slide?

Join the fray?

How about you take a stand and decide for yourself that you want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror with pride. Do it right and let it be known you did so, along with the reasons why. Not the self-serving ones… the ones that save the firm/your manager money or position it well or conform to ethical behavior.

Is This How I Want My Name Out There?

Doing the right thing and rocking the boat isn’t always easy and can often cause some significant problems for the person implementing changes in behavior. Others can view this as a turf battle, as jealousy, as a slap in their own face, or as an act of conceitedness. At some point, though, that image in the mirror starts to talk back. If you’ve worked hard through school and your career to get where you are, only to find that you’ve been sucked into the cesspool, you begin to realize that your reputation is on the line. Test yourself with this scenario: You have a family who relies on you for income to provide for them, and they think the world of you. If you did the right thing and stood up for what was right/proper/ethical, and the organization canned you, could you face your family?

The business world, especially today in this networked world, is a small community. People know MUCH more about where you work and who you are than is comfortable sometimes. Distinguishing yourself as a proactive leader for change in any environment is a huge plus when you decide you want to seek something else. Knowing that the actions you’ve taken comply with high standards and practices is critical to your reputation and your ability to sell yourself with confidence to the next organization.

This is Wrong! How Can I Affect Change?

Glad you asked! This isn’t rocket science, folks. Just step back and look at what’s going on. Then ask yourself if it is right. No? Do something about it. Research it and bring new ideas to the table for group consideration. Show initiative to take on a problem that no one wants to touch. Re-invent yourself to bring new solutions forward that are based on best practices, benchmarking, case studies and doctrine; and take quantifiable numbers with you to show improvement possibilities. Ask for the chance to make it happen; better yet, do it and prove it works later. This is where you teach yourself how to do things you’ve never done, strive for measures you never thought you could achieve, influence people and practices that pose the biggest obstacles and make a name for yourself. This is where your image in the mirror returns the smile before you sleep undisturbed.

We all know that there comes a time in which it’s simply time to go to greener pastures, but one who strives for change and new challenges/capabilities will start that journey more prepared and wiser.


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  1. Caroline says

    Doug – I read your post a few months ago searching for some inspiration because I felt unappreciated, frustrated and left out at work. All the plum projects were going to others, I was effectively “benched” and my boss was hardly communicating with me. When I found your post and your back story I thought… “Wow, that’s similar to what I am going through!” It’s helped me so much to read your experiences and how you turned things around in a positive way to move forward. I became hopeful that if you could do it, then there was a chance I could too, or at least try.

    Since that time I decided to stop being Ms Negative Nelly and quit complaining about the way things are in my day job. I stopped making snide remarks and pointing fingers. I tried to see the positive in everyone and everything that happened. I found things to do for my business customers by asking people where they needed help, instead of waiting for it to be handed to me on a plate. I asked one of my more difficult customers out to lunch and, to my surprise, found out that she also is going through the same issues I am. We made a commitment to go out to lunch each week and now we are comrades!
    Outside of work I volunteered to startup a website at my son’s school and got it up and running. I also started going to our IIBA Chapter Meetings and offered to volunteer there too.

    Professionally I am also trying to move forward. I have no mentor here who knows or understands BAs so I am reviewing the BABOK study group notes and tracking my hours on every project to log my experience for the CBAP application. I spend a lot of time reading on the internet (thank you Laura and Doug and Adrianna!) Part of my frustration is that my boss doesn’t think the CBAP is worthwhile and also won’t send me to any BA training. I can’t afford to fund my own training so I am finding every free seminar I can on the web and keeping up my skills that way until that situation changes.

    In spite of all this I am still very angry and frustrated at work. For various reasons I am not ready to move on. However, recently I was picked to work on an intranet project because of my volunteer website experience and because I’m not radiating so much negative energy. And I can take a glance or two in that mirror and smile. Thanks again for posting and for making yet another positive contribution – I really appreciate it!


  2. Doug Goldberg says

    Great to know that there are people like you willing to try the untried. We here a BTG would love to hear your stories of accomplishment (and failure) in doing this. Feel free to keep us updated!

    Well said and bravo! to your efforts to help the rest of us through our day. Don’t you find that your efforts pay off handsomely in unforeseen dividends?!


  3. Scyrus Cartwright III says

    Great article Doug. This 9-5 Apathy is a deadly disease that many people don’t realize is contagious and transmittable. I see it every day in the hospitality industry, employees just come in to do their jobs and go home. For me, that is not enough. I need to see to it that i can make someones day. Pass off some positive energy. Makes someone smile, or make their day go from bad to good. Once we pass on happiness to others we will see that there will be more creative juices flowing and there will be more positive energy spread.

  4. Katie Metcalfe says

    So true Doug! It’s easy to fall into the “auto pilot”mode in life and work. Through networking and continuous learning I think we can all find ways to offer more in our workplace and in our personal lives as well. For me, when I learn new ideas or concepts about business analysis I want to try them out at work and share the ideas with colleagues especially when they address our challenges.

  5. Stephanie

    Great news on your new initiative; you will feel much better about you and what you do. Sometimes it’s hard to pull yourself out the mental muck, so don’t worry it too much. If I can be of any assistance, you know where I am.


  6. Stephanie Ritchie says

    Great post Doug and could not have had better timing. I often feel this way in my job and have (I admit) taken to doing what I need to and no more. But I have found the last month or so, that I am feeling less motivated, even at home. Thanks for the positive advice and I am going to start thinking more along the lines of changing things in a positive manner.

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