What does "walking dead" mean anyway? I started using the term about ten years ago when working for a large corporation when I started noticing a number of individuals “putting in their time” and apparently feeling trapped in a job they would likely hold until they retired. They were always tired, many had an ashen complexion and often suffered from a number of health issues, such as back pain, migraines, lethargy, stress & anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and weight creep. Their days blended into one another as they went through the motions, seemingly with little purpose other than get through the day.
CAUTION: Morphing into a member of the walking dead is insidious!
Like any chronic condition, you can be afflicted to varying degrees. It seems to get worse over time as an individual becomes increasingly resolute that his/her situation will not miraculously be changed by benevolent external factors. They are unhappy and have essentially decided that it’s the way it is and that they will be happy once their remaining sentence is over (aka "retirement"). They have fallen victim to the fallacy that they have no power to choose. Fear of the unknown is a powerful force.
ARGH!!! Seeing these people day in and day out in the corporate environment drove me crazy. Why do they stay? Why don’t they change something? Worst of all: OMG, will I become one of them?!
In a way, I felt lucky to encounter such creatures every day. They served as a reminder to do a periodic gut check to ensure I was not undergoing the slow transformation.
Are you concerned you might be afflicted? If so, take a look at the list below to determine whether you are experiencing any of the following symptoms?
- Dread Sunday evenings and Monday mornings.
- Watch the clock increasingly often throughout the day until it’s time to go home.
- Use coffee and lunch breaks as daily pacifiers, enabling you to put in another few hours of drudgery.
- Constantly fight the urge to get online because it would be much more interesting than the work you have to do.
- Spend money because you deserve to feel good to compensate for how you feel at work. Retail therapy anyone?
- Avoid any kind of demanding work by dodging it or finding every reason that it can’t or shouldn’t be done.
- Know exactly the number of days until your next vacation and/or your retirement and it just can’t come fast enough.
- Drink or eat excessively to feed a lack of fulfillment.
- Feel the need to measure your accomplishments with the accumulation of "stuff" as opposed to professional or personal achievement.
- You don’t see the need to put in the effort to learn anything new for its own sake. What’s the point anyway?
If You Scored 1 - 3
Beware! The symptoms are telling you that you may need to make a change if what you are experiencing cannot be deemed a temporary situation. A periodic “gut check” may be in order to see if it’s time for a change.
If You Scored 4 - 6
Can you consider changing something about your current situation? A wholesale change might not be required, but maybe looking to modify your job by turning it into one that can fuel you could save you from impending doom. Or, maybe you can change jobs within the same organization or possibly move to a different company. Don’t dismiss the idea of a job/career change. It may be just what the doctor ordered.
If You Scored 7-10
YIKES! You may not even make it to retirement due to the stress chronic unhappiness can cause, and if you do, will you cherish the valuable time you spent doing something unfulfilling day in and day out for YEARS, maybe even decades? Likely not. What a huge personal cost to you to maintain the status quo! Is the money you are waiting for, or the fear of losing your current lifestyle, worth not taking a chance at finding something better?
Whatever the progression of the disease, please, consider what action(s) you can take to spare yourselves years of drudgery. Your future self, and likely your family and friends, will thank you for it.
Are you a member of the walking dead or are you alive and on fire? I’d love to hear your story.