The Mid 20s is a magical age. Most of us break the shackles of our mainstream life to leap into the one life we desire to create. We dive into activities that lead towards creating our identity. It is a process that shapes us exactly for the future we will have, not necessarily the future we want. This leaves many among us confused and lost in the battle of both personal and professional choices.
What do we seek when we are roughly 24-25 and leave the campus? We seek happiness but tend to find happiness in a job. I have always found it like a bear trap created by us, for us. From my personal experience, I have encountered uncounted numbers of individuals from this age group who are still looking for a place to settle yet having no plan in life. I wonder how they survived this long?
Today, I won’t be briefing my understanding that deep. Rather, I will share my views, mistakes, and learnings at a workplace that stirs one of the most toxic emotions in mankind, “stress”, which obviously I learned the hard way. You might be thinking right now, how legitimate will my perspective be given I am no Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos. If you are not thinking such, then thanks. But if you are, then I would still want you to give a read to the rest of the thing. Maybe I’ll be able to give you some food for thought if not some life-changing hacks on how to manage stress at the workplace.
So, to begin with, I will firstly give an idea of the expectation of a sound workplace. To me, it’s a state of mind that turns into a place where we get to grow as a person of the profession. The easy dub would be: A sound workplace understands the need of the employee and gives him or her the environment that shapes them into a better version of themselves in terms of expertise and professional development. A sound workplace is a hive of opportunity to grow where the chain or relationship among the employees and leadership creates a holistic network that generates possibilities for everybody while taking the organization itself forward.
Now my question to everyone who recently started their professional journey and confused at their choices; does this place sound familiar to you? If not, then I am sorry to break it to you, but you are under stress, my friend.
“Stress”, despite the easy pronunciation, the word carries significant power that can steer or guide a morally weak individual towards all the wrong choices in life. I have always believed that stress is one of the emotions that weakens our creative thought process while making us agitated while pushing us into taking fast decisions. As I have actively found myself being in stressful scenarios at the workplace more times than I ever anticipated, I can surely vouch for the fact that, if we are unable to find a solution towards this or manage stress at the workplace, the impact stretches to even personal life, which ultimately becomes the fulfilling cycle of stress itself. Simply put, you will be then giving a winning trophy to a life where you have failed both to your acquaintances and to your family.
There are multiple reasons why stressful situations occur at a workplace. For many, it’s when their perfect plan of action doesn’t go as they expected. For some, it’s when their higher authority expects more from them than they should. Or when we have to take the blame for someone else’s fault. And many more reasons like when the work pressure is high, the deadline is tight or the office relationships, which are always kind of confusing and take time to get a hang of it. To be honest, at this point there is no simple way to eradicate stress in the workplace. And every day, this is becoming a coal in the dark that nobody really talks about or doesn’t know when is the right time or who is the right person to talk about this.
All of this creates such a stiff invisible wall around us which slowly but constantly devours the open space making the workplace a harder place to breathe. At this point, if you are thinking there is no way to break free of the closed wall that intoxicates our minds and in the long run, I might still have some light to shed on your hope.
When I faced stress at the workplace, it really made me question my existence in the organization while I dig a hole in me and dive to learn about myself. Yes, I have taken the timeout to think and I believe you should too. It is the first step towards fighting against stress and the poisonous effect it is planning to bring in your life. I questioned my choices to learn if they really aligned with my priorities, my needs. Once you ask yourself this question why you joined the organization in the first place, it is time you be totally honest about your answer. Because this is going to matter as you take the next steps to fight your stress at the workplace. While you are stressed, the one thing you should clearly avoid is to throw the outcome of your stress, which is your frustration, on people at your left and right. Believe when I say, this leaves a mark on people how you behave with them, in and out of the workplace.
The second step after you have found your answer to the first question, is to fill the void you feel inside you. Stress can give you a feeling of emptiness and this hypothetical hole in your heart is what weakens you as a person and makes your judgment weaker. In this step, you must seek affection from the people you know you care about and the people you know who matter in your life. You will see that they never ask for any explanation from you as long as you willingly share your burden with them. This is why relationships matter. They can be your parents, your siblings, your friends, junior or senior and if you are lucky the way I am, a lover. Reach out to them and tell them how you feel. Magically, they will always make you feel better instantly as they remind you how important your wellbeing is to them.
As you have now felt a lot better after the second step, you will suddenly feel right. You will suddenly feel strong and take long inhales as you have somehow found a bigger place to breathe. But let me remind you, the work is not over yet. There is still a reason that exists at your workplace which made you stressed in the first place. But now you are strong enough to face it. Your will is strong enough to take the scene. This final step remains the most practical step of all as it requires process and perseverance.
At this point, you should ensure to take the matter that is bothering you around the organogram. You will need to take the matter to the right person with the right justification. If the reason for your stress is entirely professional, then you might not be the only person who is stressed because of it. But there will always be only one person who figures out the right process of managing the stress at the moment and makes sure this does not become a reason for another acquaintance’s stress. This is where you become an example not just to your fellow co-workers but mainly to the higher management. I believe the workplace is becoming dynamic every day as it becomes a safer place for employees all around the world. As my employer once said, “We spend most of our awake time at the workplace with our colleagues and less with our family at home. And that signifies the importance of being truly happy at the workplace.” And this made me realize when we join an organization, one big responsibility is never mentioned in our job descriptions; Being part of the process where we become responsible for making the workplace a better place for the people of the organization.
I am taking this opportunity to address the employers who reserve even bigger responsibility in their hands. Their core promise to give their employees what they truly deserve. A sound workplace. A place where all the employees take their steps towards becoming the best versions of themselves. Sometimes a higher power comes with a package of pride. This pride takes away humility and injects the constant reminder of the higher power. This practice can take down an entire organization leaving the people inside it lost, confused, and mostly hurt. As we talk about stress at the workplace, it is both the employee and the employer who place different yet similarly significant roles from their ends to walk half the path towards each other where they can shake their hands with understanding.
I have always considered myself lucky for learning the lessons the hard way. That’s how the learnings stick to us. But if I was able to take at least one person on a journey with me and able to help him or her take care of their stress at the workplace, I consider myself even luckier. With that note, I would like to share one very personal lesson which I have learned from my experience at the workplace; “Most of us prioritize the wrong things in life. If we really think about it, we might realize, we don’t really need much to be happy at the workplace let alone in life.”
Mazbahul Islam an impact-driven entrepreneur and a business graduate from Bangladesh. He is the co-founder of Safewheel, an emergency medical transportation services provider dedicated to serving the last mile of the country. Currently, Mazbahul is responsible for the marketing and outreach of Safewheel.
Mazbahul Islam is also working at YY Ventures as a content manager, a social business company backed by Yunus Centre and guided by Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus. He was recently awarded as the Global Graduate in Design Indaba 2020 conference in Cape Town, SA as a speaker and also invited to The United Nations in 2019 to pitch Safewheel in the Hult Prize 2019 Global Finale. With his work, Mazbahul is able to change the economic structure of the rural communities of Bangladesh as he promotes social business towards creating a world of three zeros; zero poverty, zero unemployment & zero carbon emission.