You know you’ve done it. Somewhere along the line we’ve all done it.  You faked it.  You just wanted to get it over with – the day, the meeting, the week – so you delivered an Oscar-worthy performance and, surprised by how easily others can be fooled, you did what you needed to do and then got on with the rest of your world.

And then you did it again. And again.  Until one day you admit that deep down you know you should be getting more out of this than a paycheck…which you desperately need.  But don’t you deserve to enjoy it a little?

Yes, you deserve to enjoy what you do for a living.  And, your employer deserves an engaged employee.  So what happens when you know that you aren’t happy where you’re planted but, for whatever reason, you aren’t ready to make a move?

First, ask yourself this revealing question that I ask all of my career coaching clients:

Are you being  a (designer, teacher, sales manager), or are  you a (designer, teacher, sales manager)?

If you ARE what you’re doing from 9-5 you probably answered with certainty and a feeling of, “Duhh, how could I possibly be anything else?  It’s what I am.”

Clients who answer like this typically seek tactical guidance to get them back on course. We may work on their resume, focus on job search strategy or pump some new energy into their LinkedIn profile to get them to the next step of what they already know they are.  The feeling of faking it often dissipates as they begin to make some strategic adjustments.

If you are BEING your title from 9- 5, you probably answered with a sigh of frustration and something like “I’m BEING a _____, it’s not what I am.”    (a.k.a.  “I’m pretending.  I’m faking it.”)

Clients who answer this way usually want to find work that is aligned with what they know about themselves, or a way to bring more of themselves into their current situation. Many times they aren’t even sure where they belong.  It’s a different level of faking and they are drained and uninspired for most of their work day.  Even though they may be good at their job, there is no communion between who they are and what they do.

First of all, it’s important to note that probably at some point in your life you’ll find yourself being  something in order to cover the bills. It may be during your early career as you are paying your dues or during a financial or family situation that takes priority.   When that’s the case, you have to try even harder to are it  in other areas of your life to make sure you aren’t depleted.  So, if you know that you’re being it  (faking it) from 9 –5, begin to notice when you are it  outside of your day job. Who says you have to define yourself by your 9 -5 title anyway?  Oh, that’s right…the world.  Don’t listen.

I’m not saying that passion can’t equal a paycheck.   It certainly can.  But it doesn’t always.  And, rarely at every stage of life are you getting paid for doing what feels perfectly right.

Sometimes there is a little faking involved as you put in your time, try things on and discard titles that don’t fit. But you don’t want to be placed on a performance improvement plan, and you don’t want to look like a slacker,  and you don’t want your reputation to be affected just because you’re putting the puzzle together.  You also don’t want to feel this level of detachment from your work forever.

Try these mind tricks to help sustain you and keep you as engaged as possible:

  • Start telling yourself (and others if you want) your story in a new way: “I’m an organic gardener and I work as an accountant from 9 to 5.”   I’m a musician but I work as an office manager during the week.”
  • Begin to subtly infuse value into what you’re being  by seeing how it contributes to your ability to are  outside of a paycheck. (The money you make being it  affords you the resources you need to are it  in your private life.)
  • Love the one you’re with. Seek other areas in your organization that might sound interesting. The more you experiment, the more you learn. Sitting still is like dying a slow death.
  • Find ways to try to bring some of your are  into the daily being.
  • If you have ideas of what you really want to get paid to do, start taking meaningful action steps to determine what it will take to make that a reality. Doing is the bridge from BEING to AREing.

I really don’t believe that we were born to fake it through life. Even at work.  If you find yourself in that pattern, it’s a signal for you to pay attention and make some adjustments.   Play some mind tricks to create a subtle shift in perspective and to help you get unstuck.  And then, when you feel a pull that can’t be ignored, start building a little bridge….you may find what you are on the other side.

Image:  Pi from Leiden, Holland via

Barbara reveals people to themselves. - TG

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