Do you know the Geissens from RTL2? Then you know what luxury problems are. When Carmen’s fingernail tears in the middle of Saint-Tropez is hungry because his sweetheart is still sipping champagne at the hairdresser’s. Called First World Problems. It is also noticeable that many of my clients use the word luxury problem when they tell me about their concerns in career coaching. They are unsure whether they really have a problem because they know that many other employees are worse off. Are such luxury problems in the job just whining at a high level? No, not at all! Why you should no longer downplay your supposed luxury problems, but take them seriously and solve them.
Luxury problems at work: examples from practice
Jenny does her work in the office in the first two hours of the day and then just sits down until the end of the day. She surfs privately, reads a lot on the net, and recently started an online training course. And for that, she gets a good salary every month on time. She knows from her circle of friends that many cannot save themselves from work and work overtime. She is uncomfortable telling me about her boredom at work and actually, she is also not sure whether it is not just a luxury problem and whether she is doing too much. But it burdens her, and she starts to cry when she talks about her boss and her work.
Heiko has not loved what he does for a long time and still torments himself to work every day. A lot of routines, no more development, no prospects. But the atmosphere in the team is great, and he gets along very well with the boss, he says. And the above-average salary compensates for the job frustration anew every month. He would like to change employers, but his friends tell him to be happy with what he has. It could hit him a lot worse. Heiko secretly wishes that his employer would fire him, then he would finally be rid of this luxury problem and would have to get going.
Michael is in his early 50s and can look back on a steep career. Most recently, as a manager, he was responsible for a large area in a corporation and led many employees. He has earned a lot of money, a nice house, his two children are out of the woods. He would like to have more time for himself and his family again and take less time in his job. Less responsibility, a smaller team. He comes to me because after several applications he has not been invited to an interview. He also speaks of a luxury problem because he has already achieved so much, but there are still a few years to go before retirement, and he wants to move a lot. His frustration is great not to score points despite his experience and previous successes as an applicant.
Now don’t act like that! – Whining at a high level?
Perhaps you are now thinking that the cases of Jenny, Heiko, and Michael, whose names I have changed, are rare exceptions? Boredom at work, isn’t that possible? Take a look at the many comments below my article from 2015, which has since become one of the most read articles on the blog.
A problem turns into a luxury problem when we feel pressure to act, but is suggested to us from outside – or we convince ourselves that all of this is nothing compared to…
“Don’t act like that, others have it much worse!” or “Compared to before, you have it good today!” or “Be glad that you still have a job!”
We think it’s whining on a high level. The onerous problem is made small and devalued by the feeling of luxury. With many of my clients, it seems to me that they are downright ashamed of what burdens them so much and what has brought them to me. Because they know that they are in a comfortable position and that many other professionals or job seekers are far worse off.
You are not alone!
It helps many of my clients that someone takes their problem seriously, listens to them and does not dismiss their concerns with a hasty assessment of “Don’t act like that!”. It doesn’t matter to me how big a problem is. Who can objectively assess the relevance, burden, or scope of a problem other people have in a specific life and work situation? Who are we to make others feel like their problem is luxurious whining for no reason?
In the comments under my boredom article, many of those affected write how important it is for them to see that they are not alone in the world with their supposed luxury problem. At the same time, this increases your own permission to take the topic and your own feelings, fears, and worries seriously, to talk about it, and to seek external help.
You can also solve a luxury problem
Yes, in the end, it is your decision whether and to what extent you assess a condition as a problem and try to solve it. Jenny from the example above could decide to take the good money with her for doing nothing and give her peace of mind. Or she decides to speak to her boss and demand more tasks – at the risk of her employer getting the idea that her job is actually superfluous.
When conditions are perceived as luxury problems in the job, there is no pressure to act for a change. It’s a problem, but somehow it’s not. Many people then tend to put off trying to find a solution. Out of concern about the reactions of one’s own environment, which could dismiss their attempted solutions as completely excessive, but above all out of my own conviction that everything is not that bad after all. Endurance quickly becomes a convenient solution. Expecting it will go away on its own or get significantly worse before it’s time to take action. A misconception from my experience.
It may sound like a paradox, but why aren’t you happy that your problem is still a “luxury” and not already your existence or your health? That you have not yet given your notice of resignation and that you can apply from an existing employment relationship in a frustrated but relaxed manner. Or that you may also enjoy the financial security of being able to bridge a longer period of professional orientation even without a job.
Make the luxury part of your problem. Use the life or work situation that you still find comfort to have the necessary time, perhaps also the financial means and a free mind, to find a good solution for you and to consciously take the path there.