A common theme of people who email me for help with their career is that their jobs are terrible, their bosses are unreasonable, and their pay is too low.. The problem is, you can only change your own actions. While people will react differently if you behave differently, you have to make the changes to begin with.

So, this morning, I stumbled across this quote on Twitter:

"The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny."

Yes, you can blame your boss for your misery, but it will only make your life miserable. You have options. (And yes, you always have options.) For instance, you can

  • Find a new job.
  • Quit your job and move in with your mother-in-law.
  • Go back to school to train for a better job.
  • Accept that there aren't other great options and say, "My boss may stink, but this job allows me to provide for my family."
  • Apply for an internal transfer.
  • Document any illegal behavior your boss does and report it to HR.
  • Change what you are doing at work so the boss doesn't bother you anymore. (Yes, the boss may be irrational, but she's still the boss.)

Each of these options requires actions by you. Yes, your boss is a jerk. I totally accept that, but only your actions can change.

Quitting your job without another lined up and moving in with your mother idea is probably a bad idea and I don't recommend it (as a general rule), but if you choose to stay at the job to avoid that consequence, own it. You are in control. You really are.

This can apply in all areas of your life. Your spouse is awful? You can decide to stay or go, get counseling, or complain to your friends, but it's your choice. Your car breaks down? You can decide how to change your life to get a better car, get your current car fixed, or you can embrace public transportation. 

Once we recognize that we have control over our own lives, we can make decisions and take responsibility for them.

This doesn't mean bad things don't happen. Of course, they do! You can't control that a drunk driver ran a red light and hit your car, but you can control how you respond to it. You can't control a company layoff, but you can control how you respond.

This is my motto for 2019. It's my life and my carer and my problems, so I will take control and make my own decisions. Please join me!

Published on: Jan 2, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.