Signs You’re Not Cut Out for the 9-to-5 Life

Many of us were raised to a subtle beat (or loud gong) that went something like, “Get good grades. Get into a decent school. Get a solid desk job. Be happy.”

Problem is, for some people this formula doesn’t lead to career fulfillment. In fact, for some, it’s a formula that ultimately makes them want to crawl out of their own skin or run screaming. Could this be you? What are some signs that you may, in fact, not be cut out for a traditional, 9-to-5 job?

Here are a few signs, plus what should you do if this speaks to you.

1. The Office Makes You Feel Like a Caged Animal 

It is not always about resenting authority. For some who aren’t cut out for traditional jobs, it’s the endless sea of desks that makes them want to run screaming.

What to do if you feel trapped?

If your job requires you to sit in one sp and stare at a computer all day (and you actually don’t mind the work), you may consider requesting the option to telecommute a couple times a week. If your role doesn’t really mandate sitting in one place every day, start planning your day (or requesting to do so) in a way that gets you out and about at least a time or two every day.

2. You Don’t Like Working Regimented Hours

Similar to the feeling that a cubicle may give you, being required to punch in and out each day can make some feel like they have no say in their career or life (and having no say make them want out).

What to Do If You Despise Set Hours

If this is your job (and it’s making you nuts), you may want to consider a new position or line of work. If the imposed hours are arbitrary, perhaps you could put together a proposal that shows your boss how you can achieve your goals outside of the current schedule.

3. You Resent Being Told What to Do (by Anyone)

If you feel a bubbling rage when asked to attend a meeting you don’t want to go to or work on a project you don’t think is a priority, this could be a warning sign. If you don’t think you shouldn’t have to arrive at a certain time or put in a request for vacation time at all? The writing’s on the wall.

What to Do If You’re Not Having it with Authority

If you’re feeling super resentful about having to answer to anyone, it may be a clear indicator that you’re meant to be your own boss. This isn’t us saying, “March right in and quit.” In many cases, this could be reckless. But if you truly despise working on someone else’s agenda, consider how you might earn a living as the one who gets to make the agenda.

If you’re simply not cut out for a 9-to-5, find strategic, creative, or brave ways to redefine your current role, or create your own.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Icons Who Will Inspire You to Never Give Up

“Never give up.” It’s probably one of the most cliché phrases you’ll hear as you’re building your career. But there’s a reason this saying is common—you never know when success is around the corner. 

Believing that is easier said than done, so we collected the following stories of icons who definitely never gave up, including J.K. Rowling and Stephen King, for starters. These folks are now household names, but they didn’t become one easily. Read on and get inspired!

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling had just gotten a divorce, was on government aid, and could barely afford to feed her baby in 1994, just three years before the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, was published. When she was shopping it out, she was so poor she couldn’t afford a computer or even the cost of photocopying the 90,000-word novel, so she manually typed out each version to send to publishers. It was rejected dozens of times until finally Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, gave it a second chance after the CEO’s eight-year-old daughter fell in love with it.

Stephen King

King was broke and struggling while writing his first novel Carrie. He lived in a trailer with his wife—also a writer—and they both worked multiple jobs to support their family while pursuing their craft. They were so poor they had to borrow clothes for their wedding and had gotten rid of the telephone because it was too expensive.

King received so many rejection letters for his works that he developed a system for collecting them. In his book On Writing, he recalls: “By the time I was 14…the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a railroad spike and kept on writing.” He received 60 rejections before selling his first short story, “The Glass Floor,” for $35. Even his now best-selling book, Carrie, wasn’t a hit at first. After dozens of rejections, he finally sold it for a meager advance to Doubleday Publishing, where the hardback sold only 13,000 copies—not great. Soon after, though, Signet Books signed on for the paperback rights for $400,000, $200,000 of which went to King. The beginning of his success achieved!

Tyler Perry

Perry had a rough childhood. He was physically and sexually abused growing up, got kicked out of high school, and tried to commit suicide twice—once as a preteen and again at 22. At 23 he moved to Atlanta and took up odd jobs as he started working on his stage career.

In 1992 he wrote, produced, and starred in his first theater production, I Know I’ve Been Changed, somewhat informed by his difficult upbringing. Perry put all his savings into the show and it failed miserably; the run lasted just one weekend and only 30 people came to watch. He kept up with the production, working more odd jobs and often slept in his car to get by. Six years later, Perry finally broke through when, on its seventh run, the show became a success. He’s since gone on to have an extremely successful career as a director, writer, and actor. In fact, Perry was named Forbes’ highest-paid man in entertainment in 2011.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah’s dealt with a lot throughout her public life—criticism about her weight, racism, intrusive questions about her sexuality, just to name a few—but she never let it get in the way of her ambition and drive. When you look at her childhood, her personal triumphs are cast in an even more remarkable light.

Growing up, Oprah was reportedly a victim of sexual abuse and was repeatedly molested by her cousin, an uncle, and a family friend. Later, she became pregnant and gave birth to a child at age 14, who passed away just two weeks later. But Oprah persevered, going on to finish high school as an honors student, earning a full scholarship to college, and working her way up through the ranks of television, from a local network anchor in Nashville to an international superstar and creator of her OWN network (we couldn’t help ourselves.)

Jim Carrey

When Carrey was 14 years old, his father lost his job, and his family hit rough times. They moved into a VW van on a relative’s lawn, and the young aspiring comedian—who was so dedicated to his craft that he mailed his resume to The Carroll Burnett Show just a few years earlier, at age 10—took an eight-hours-per-day factory job after school to help make ends meet.

At age 15, Carrey performed his comedy routine onstage for the first time—in a suit his mom made him—and totally bombed, but he was undeterred. The next year, at 16, he quit school to focus on comedy full time. He moved to LA shortly after, where he would park on Mulholland Drive every night and visualize his success. One of these nights he wrote himself a check for $10,000,000 for “Acting Services Rendered,” which he dated for Thanksgiving 1995. Just before that date, he hit his payday with Dumb and Dumber. He put the deteriorated check, which he’d kept in his wallet the whole time, in his father’s casket.

“Never give up” still might be one of the most cliché phrases you’ll hear (even after reading these amazing success stories). But our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to better explain why ‘never giving up’ is important when it comes to your career and life. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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5 Brilliant Tips for Dealing with a Difficult Boss

In an ideal world, we would all have fantastic managers—bosses who helped us succeed, who made us feel valued, and who were just all-around great people.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. But whether the person you work for is a micromanager, has anger management problems, is a flat-out workplace bully, or just isn’t very competent, you still have to make the best of the situation and finish your work.

To help out, the Ignite Your Potential coaches have gathered the best advice for dealing with a bad boss. 

1. Make Sure You’re Dealing With a “Bad Boss”

Before trying to fix your bad boss, make sure you really are dealing with one. Is there a reason for the behavior you’re seeing? Are you being too hard on him or her?

“Observe your boss for a few days and try to notice how many things she does well versus poorly. When she is doing something “bad,” try to imagine the most forgiving reason why it could have occurred. Is it truly her fault or could it be something out of their control?” Fast Company

2. Identify Your Boss’s Motivation

Understanding why your boss does or cares about certain things can give insight into his or her management style. It’s also a way to “manage up” (understanding what the demands are on your boss and how you can best support them. There are plenty of additional articles online specifically about this topic. Think of this as an opportunity to learn this useful skill.)

“…if the rules are totally out of control, try to figure out your boss’s motivation. Maybe it’s not that he really cares about how long your lunch break takes; he actually cares about how it affects other employees’ morale and the perception of their superiors.” Brazen Careerist

3. Don’t Let it Affect Your Work

No matter how bad your boss’s behavior avoid letting it affect your work. You want to stay on good terms with other leaders in the company (and keep your job!) If you are unable to do this… it’s time to begin a job search and leave before you sabotage yourself.

“Don’t try to even the score by working slower or taking excessive ‘mental health’ days or longer lunches. It will only put you further behind in your workload and build a case for your boss to give you the old heave-ho before you’re ready to go.” Work Awesome

4. Act as the Leader

When dealing with an incompetent boss, sometimes it’s best to make some leadership decisions on your own.

“If you know your area well, there is no reason to not pursuing a direction you know will achieve good results for your company. People who do this are naturally followed by their peers as an informal leader. Management, although maybe not your direct boss, will notice your initiative. Of course, you don’t want to do something that undermines your boss, so keep him or her in the loop.” Careerealism

5. Avoid Future Bad Bosses

When interviewing with a new company, do your research ahead of time to make sure you’re not getting into another situation with a less-than-ideal manager.

“Have coffee or lunch with one or more staffers at the new company. Ostensibly, your purpose is to learn general information about the company, how it’s functioning, and its culture. However, use this opportunity to discover as much about your potential boss as possible, without appearing creepy of course.” Inc.

Need more tips on how to deal with a difficult boss? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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6 Ways to Manage Your Email Inbox—According to People Who Get 100+ Emails a Day

Between sifting through spam, crafting the right responses, and keeping tabs on the messages that require follow-up, staying on top of your inbox can feel like a job in itself. That’s why the Ignite Your Potential coaches curated a list of tips from professionals who have figured out the secret to efficient, organized inboxes—despite getting hundreds of emails a day.

1. Only Keep Emails Requiring Immediate Action in Your Inbox

No emails in your inbox might be too lofty an aim, but by being ruthless about which messages get to take up real estate in your inbox, you can get pretty darn close.

“Most days, my email inbox has fewer than 25 messages in it. This is intentional. I want to be able to open my inbox and immediately see what is most urgent and requiring a response,” says Leigh Ann Newman, a senior program manager at an international government consulting firm. “This habit pushes me to take action on items in an extremely timely manner.”

2. Create a “Waiting Folder” for Action-Pending Emails

So, where do emails go if not your inbox? Create a “waiting folder” for emails that require action from someone else before you can respond. “This is a huge time-saver,” says Darcy Miller, a workplace expert and founder of Pin and Pivot, who for many years was barraged with more than 150 emails a day. “That way those emails aren’t junking up your inbox, and it’s a great place to look each day or week to remind you of what projects are still pending.”

She learned this trick the hard way when, during the first year of her first job, she couldn’t find an email attachment she needed. “I spent half of a day looking for that email, among the thousands of emails that were in my inbox at the time,” she says. “I vowed from that moment on, I would take control of my inbox!”

3. Make Subfolders or Labels Your New BFF

Across the board, inbox mavens recommend creating an easy-to-decode subfolder or label system. Nate Masterson, CEO of Maple Holistics, estimates he gets upwards of 250 emails some days, so organization is paramount. “Email labels are your friend,” he advises. “Use them to group together important email chains, so when you need to look at something for reference, you can do so easily.”

4. Don’t Let Junk Mail Languish in Your Inbox

Feel like you’re playing whack-a-mole with promotional emails? Be swift with the unsubscribe button. Davis Siksnans, CEO and Founder of Printful, uses a three-strike rule for promotional emails and newsletters. The third time he deletes a newsletter or promo email from a specific sender, he unsubscribes from the list.

5. Set Aside Time Blocks for Checking Email

You probably wouldn’t leave your schedule open for meetings of unspecified times and lengths around the clock, so why give email free rein to intrude on your day?

“I don’t leave my email open all day long; I set specific times during the day to go through each email and thoughtfully respond, archive, or save for later. This way I don’t multitask, and I can get through all my emails more quickly because I am actually focused on the task at hand,” says David Mitroff, a business consultant. “I recommend that people start out with three different half-hour blocks a day to read through and respond to their emails and keep their inbox closed the rest of the day and adjust as necessary from there.”

6. Squeeze in Mindless Email Tasks During Downtime

Ensure email accounts are effectively synced to your phone and use idle moments to do quick inbox clean-up. “Lots of the messages I receive don’t require direct action,” says Ben Taylor, founder of HomeworkingClub.com. “Spam can be deleted, other things can be filed, and you can deal with plenty of these just while you’re in a two-minute supermarket queue.”

Wanting to know other organization tips to keep your inbox in optimal shape? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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