I don’t know what’s wrong with me these days. I have a beautiful home and a wonderful husband. (We’ve been happily married for 24 years.) We have two grown children with successful careers, and I have a good job making a six-figure income. And yet I’m feeling completely and totally miserable—thanks to a horrible boss who regularly uses fear, intimidation, and bullying tactics to “motivate” his employees. I do the best I can to protect my team from his tirades, but I come home every day feeling angry, frustrated, and exhausted. I’m keeping a daily journal of his bad behavior and have spoken twice with our HR Department. However, he has been with the company for 18 years and is “good buddies” with the CEO. I’m good at my job but catch myself daydreaming regularly about walking away and starting my own business. You would think that, by the age of 58, I could simply “suck it up” and be grateful for my many blessings. However, I don’t want to feel miserable for the next seven years—just to make it to retirement. I’m feeling utterly stuck and would appreciate any advice you have to offer.
Miserable in Montana
I’m so sorry to hear about your plight, having personally experienced the ecstasy of two Horrible Bosses in the not-so-distant past. It sounds like you’re doing the right thing by protecting your people, maintaining a Cover Your Posterior (CYP) journal, and apprising HR of the situation. What particularly captured my attention, however, is your dream of starting your own business. How long have you been considering this option? What business would you start? What’s stopping you from pursuing you dreams?
Six years ago, yours truly found herself in a maddeningly similar situation. I had spent the past 12 months watching two new “superiors” (what a savage concept) systematically dismantle a company-wide program I had spent years developing. To make matters worse, my latest immediate supervisor — who was new to the company and wanted to please the new director — decided the best way to deal with me was to pretend I didn’t exist. Fantastic, right? When we passed in the hall, she would look the other way and say nothing to me. During meetings, she would look past me as if I wasn’t there. She offered virtually no guidance, direction, or assignments, which drove me completely bonkers since I no longer had a program to lead. What part of this description screams stellar management skills? She was fiendish and brutal.
As a result, my mental and physical health took a steep, downhill slide — landing me in the emergency room of a lovely nearby hospital. I was particularly annoyed that I couldn’t remember the ambulance ride—my one and only ever.
As I recovered consciousness in the ER, I found myself the subject of considerable interest, with one doctor, two nurses, and a gaggle of junior volunteers peering curiously at me. (The teal polo shirts and khaki pants were iconic.) Turns out, almost nobody in the room had seen a no-kidding case of transient global amnesia resulting from extreme duress. That’s me – always the overachiever. The doctor told me that all I could say over and over again was, “My boss broke my head.”
That’s the moment I decided to walk away (more like SPRINT) and pursue my own dreams — rather than helping someone else pursue theirs. I left a six-figure job and spent every waking moment of the next three years launching a fun, fabulous digital magazine, earning three life-changing coaching certifications, and starting my own dream coaching company. Along the way, I lucked into this sweet, little gig as an advice columnist—clearly my forte as a brilliant writer.
I’m not saying that starting your own business is right for you. However, I can say that we all have extraordinary gifts to offer the world. If you haven’t started exploring other career options, get going NOW! You’ll feel a sense of empowerment, discover your singular purpose and, best of all, reinvigorate your mojo. In the meantime, you can leverage your current salary to plan a viable off-ramp to your Next Chapter. Now that’s a worthy investment.
Best wishes on your journey, my dear.