#84 Stress Means You Care, Right?

stress means you care

“If I don’t stress about my job, I must not care about it.” Is this true… does stress mean you care? Find out why the answer is no!

Employees Who “Don’t Care” 

Have you met the person who was openly cavalier about their job? As if they didn’t care about raises, reputation, or status. As if they had more important worries (such as free time, hobbies, or family).

If you have met this person, did you find yourself judging? For example, did you quietly believe, “Oh my gosh, they just don’t care about their job… they’re not dedicated… what’s wrong with them… I care about my job, they should care about theirs, etc.”

No need to feel bad or guilty! If you found yourself judging, was there a tiny part of you that also found yourself admiring?

Society has groomed us to want to “care” about our careers. Many people don’t know any differently. And this “caring” can be taken to extremes, resulting in despair, burnout or worse.

Which is why this is a critical norm to explore – stress means you care… or does it?

Challenge the Status Quo

If stress means you care, then logically speaking, the absence of stress means you don’t care. Therefore, stressing over your work is a way of showing you care. Or so the thought goes.

Here is where it gets really messy – some people have been led to believe they MUST care about their jobs. As if this is status quo. 

If you MUST care about your job, then you MUST stress about it… hardly! See Post #59, “How Can I Care Less About Work.”

Is it true – do people have to care about their jobs? I suspect most people want to care, at least somewhat, about their jobs. Or, at a minimum, they want to portray an appearance of caring.

The deeper question is: can you care about the job without experiencing stress?

If I told you the answer is yes, allow me to share what this could like for you.

High-level Steps For Autonomy

Below are some common sources of stress, according to many clients I have coached:

  • I have no support at work, my boss is out
  • I can’t get a promotion, I’m not doing or saying the right things
  • They skipped over me because I was on leave
  • I was told I have to get better at the skill of XYZ but I don’t know how
  • My voice doesn’t count

These lines of thinking are a small example of what career attachment can look like. In the simplest terms, career attachment is emotional reliance on things that happen at work… things usually outside your control.

If you find yourself a bit attached, try this oversimplified 3-step process. For a more detailed approach, see my webinar replay Career Satisfaction: When Work Isn’t Working for You.

Step one is to do your best work at work. Try your hardest (given the day and the way you feel). Find ways to get along with the difficult people. Every day may produce a different level of effort, but for each day, give it your all. 

Step two is knowing you did your best – with the information you had available. Go to sleep recognizing you did what you could do to make impacts, to improve others, to grow yourself.

Step three is start a daily habit of knowing you gave it your all DESPITE the outcome that may ensue.

Take Control

What I am suggesting is this. Focus on the things you can control – such as your:

  • level of effort
  • personal growth
  • personality
  • emotional maturity
  • thought patterns
  • responses

In simple terms, challenge yourself to build the habit of focusing on the things you get to control – which includes your internal state.

Over time, with repetition, you will become less emotional over job outcomes and more concerned/satisfied with yourself. Less anxiety, less stress and more peace.

Caring does not have to equal stress!

For more information with detailed examples, see my webinar replay Career Satisfaction: When Work Isn’t Working for You.

If you enjoy this content, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and ask me about free strategy sessions for your career!