The holidays are the perfect opportunity to see those friends and family members you’ve “really been meaning to catch up with” and answer the questions you’ve avoided asking yourself all year.
That’s right folks, the season is upon us, and you’re about to come face to face with your denial.
If you’re getting together with people you don’t see often, you’ll probably get the vague and terrifyingly open-ended, “So, how’s work?” Maybe it’s someone you make an effort to see quarterly so they’ll have a more specific scab to pick at like, “Last time I saw you, you’d just had a really tough feedback meeting with your boss. How’s that going?”
Both of these – and anything in between – might induce a tiny panic and a BIG sip of whatever is in your hand, but if you can’t get out of it, these are some ways you might be able to respond.

  1. Dig deep into your memory to find that thing that your aunt Susan accidentally revealed last year and deftly change the subject to it. Reminding her of something she doesn’t want to talk about either will shut that convo down real quick.
  2. Spill your drink – on your conversation partner, on yourself, on the glazed ham. Who cares, just get yourself out of there.
  3. Respond honestly. “I didn’t get that promotion; work is still crushing my soul, and I don’t have any kind of plan to do anything about it. I also have a feeling that my boss is an alien sent here to break the spirit of the human race so we’ll be ready for colonization.” and allow the conversation to come to a depressing, crashing halt. Aunt Susan’s probably looking to spill something right about now.
  4. Lie. “Work is great; they’re actually putting me in charge of this [insert “vague project Susan definitely won’t remember” here]!

Obviously, the correct answer is 5.) All of the above. (What, you thought you wouldn’t be quizzed? Expecting the unexpected is truly the only survival motto you need for this holiday season.)
In all seriousness — yeah, shine those shoes and pay attention — you may not have a good answer. You may be in the exact same spot as last year because you sat melancholy at your desk, doing what needed to be done, and being pretty unfulfilled the whole time. Or maybe you are in a better spot (congrats), but you’re still not feeling totally right about work (and you still can’t outshine Cousin Jerry).
My holiday gift to you is to remind you that it absolutely, positively, 110% DOES NOT NEED TO BE THIS WAY.
I can’t gift-wrap the perfect career for you and deliver it in the dead of night, but I can tell you that there is a tested and credible way for you to make a difference in your work-happiness and overall career.
Truth is, there are always going to be compromises to be made in your career, but if you’re consistently compromising on the important stuff without really giving the short- or long-term management of your career any thought, it’s no wonder things don’t feel very good.
The anxiety dreams you’re having about answering these work questions this holiday season means that maybe it finally is time to do something about it. Career coaching is a way for you to take a targeted approach to the thing(s) at work that aren’t working for you and get some real solutions. If this sounds like something you need (or maybe something someone you know needs), shoot us an email here, and we’d be thrilled to help.
Cheers to a fulfilling, exciting, and spectacular 2019!

Nora Philbin

Nora is a co-founder of Happy Spectacular, which she still can't really believe, and she's on a lifelong quest for the world's best cheeseburger (applicants accepted).