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Trapped by Familiarity?

Andre Agassi's shocking autobiography. He describes how trapped he felt doing something he hated

Andre Agassi's shocking autobiography. He describes how trapped he felt doing something he hated

The husband and I sat down to watch Andre Agassi on 60 Minutes this evening.  His autobiography, Open, comes out tomorrow, and is full of juicy and scandalous revelations.  He was addicted to crystal meth.  His iconic hair of the late 80s was a weave.  And perhaps most surprising, he hated tennis, and still doesn’t like it very much.  I found it shocking – he was so good at it, it was his whole life, and he hated it!

But then… I could relate.  I have an MBA and had a great job in human resources at a Fortune 100 company.  I was good at my job and it was part of my family’s livelihood.  It was difficult to imagine life without it.

I’m guessing for Andre Agassi, his feelings were similar, but times a thousand.  Tennis was literally all he knew.  His father drilled tennis into him almost as soon as he’d started walking.  He hated it, but I would hazard to guess he had a very, very, very hard time imagining life without it.

That’s a huge stumbling block for many people who want to get out of the office and work at home – for their current employer, or for themselves.  That cubicle or office is very comforting… it’s there every day, it’s familiar, it’s like a beige cocoon of stability and predictability.  But to work at home, you need to be willing to step outside of that comfort zone and embrace the change!  Here are a few steps and things to keep in mind as you are gearing up to take on the challenge:

1.  Changing is the brave thing to do.  It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be nervous or downright scared, because it’s a huge thing and it probably should be a little scary, because that fear will help you get all your ducks in a row.  Bravery is not the lack of fear, it is being afraid and acting anyway.  It’s OK to be nervous.  Embrace it, and let it guide you to approaching the change in a responsible way.

2.  If you’re considering a work-from-home scenario because of a situation that was not your doing – perhaps you were laid off, or your company went out of business – keep in mind that great things often come of involuntary change such as what you’re going through.  My company went through a few rounds of layoffs before I left, and with the former co-workers I keep in touch with who were laid off, they repeatedly say that getting laid off was so scary, but it was also the best thing that ever happened to them.  A good friend of mine who was laid off found a better job that was a better fit for her.  A former boss that was laid off started his own consulting business and is making his early pension from getting laid off *and* a bigger income from his new business, apart from that pension, than what he was making at my company.

3.  Make sure you know what you’re getting into.  Do you have the right technologies in place to support working from home?  You might want to consider upgrading your cell phone and getting a faster internet connection, as these will be your lifelines to your coworkers and clients, once you’re not in the office every day.

4.  Consider a gradual transition.  If you’re going to work from home in your current job, try it out for only one or two days a week at first.  Then add more days until you are working from home full-time.  This approach will help you adjust to working at home and allay some of the anxiety.

Again, it’s OK to be scared of the unknown.  For Andre Agassi, that fear kept him in a career for decades that he now admits he fiercely detested.  He didn’t enjoy it, and it nearly destroyed him.  Change is scary – but hating what you do and where you do it can be much worse.  Put together a plan to make that change, and go for it!

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