Sleepworking? Ask Madeleine

Dear Madeleine,

I have been managing a team in the insurance industry for the last fifteen years. There has been a lot of change—mostly reductions in staff size and increases in work load—but basically it is pretty much the same stuff, just a different day, and has been for a long time. 

My last kid will graduate this coming spring and already plans to travel the world working odd jobs to pay for it. All day long I dream of doing the same thing. I am actually envious of my kid.

I am so bored with my job that I literally dread going to work. I watch the clock all day. I used to care so much that I would take work home and work on weekends. Now I literally leave things undone, but either my boss doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. I had committed to myself to stick it out until retirement, but that is a good ten years from now. 

For a while I was just kind of asleep, but now it is feeling like a nightmare.

What to do?


Dear Asleep,

In our business, we call this condition “quit and stayed.” You are not alone. There is something about human nature, especially for people of certain temperaments, that too much security and sameness puts us to sleep. Your business isn’t happy about it, even if you haven’t seen the evidence yet. If you are senior enough to have a big salary but you aren’t inspiring your people and going the extra mile, I guarantee you are in somebody’s sights. What I want for you is to be at choice so you can make the best decision for your immediate future before someone makes it for you.

I have two words for you. Wake up.

You have so many choices—with the two ends on the continuum being (A) stay and make it work and (Z) go travel the world. You can stay where you are and decide to re-engage: take some training, get interested in developing your people, get trained for a new role. You can craft a plan to leave: stay in your job, reduce your expenses, save up for a big adventure. You can volunteer, get involved with new committees at work, take up yoga. The beautiful thing about envy is that it gives you data about what your heart truly desires. If travel has seized your imagination, maybe you can get a transfer with your company and go do your job somewhere else.

It is possible you have lost sight of what is important to you and what your strengths are.You might take a look at the Values in Action assessment to re-connect with what makes you wonderful and what  is most important to you.

If you really can’t snap out of it by yourself, go talk to a professional. You may be suffering from depression and it has sapped you of all verve and imagination. One thing is for sure, though—if you aren’t already depressed, trying to stick it out with no changes for another ten years will certainly do the trick.

This situation is not your fault. It is part of being human. But now that you know the reality of the situation, you need to take action. Talk to your friends.Talk to a professional. Make a plan and follow through. Don’t put it off. This is your life, and I would hate for you to regret not having taken advantage of this moment of clarity.

Love, Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!

2 thoughts on “Sleepworking? Ask Madeleine

  1. Ohh many thanks for giving the chance to read your consultancy posts. . It really gives us some direction when we are not sure what to do . I love to learn throughtout the life and share it with people ❤🎈i hope i can be a coach like you who is strong , realistic, leader and woman entrepreneur. Regards ,

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