A little while ago, City Sylvester asked me, “What’s the best strategy for getting out of a job you hate?”
That is a tough situation that can seem absolutely soul-sucking. It can be hard to not run screaming from the workplace every day. (OK, so I’m exaggerating that a little. Maybe.) I’ve been there a time or two during my career, so I know how it feels.
If you find yourself dreading mornings because it means you have to go back to your
slave labor job, the best thing to do is gain some perspective. Your gut instinct may be to find a way out as quickly as possible, but don’t be hasty. Getting introspective about why you feel this way should be the first step you take to clarify the matter before bailing out. Is it a particular set of circumstances that is making you crazy — a difficult boss, annoying co-workers, a bad corporate culture? Or are you feeling burnt out from working in the field altogether? It can be hard to separate out the two causes for the discontent with your job, particularly because the fear of switching careers can be quite strong.
So what are some ways you can figure out why you hate your job?
1. Find a volunteer position that does similar work. If you work in marketing, identify an organization that is working on a marketing campaign for a new program or a special event, and then throw yourself into it. Keep at it for a good 4-6 months. If, as time goes on, you still feel excited about your work, perhaps you should start looking for positions with other companies. On the other hand, if the same feelings you are having about your job are starting to surface in your volunteer work, that may indicate that it’s the type of work you are doing that is the issue.
2. Take a trip down memory lane. I’m not talking about some leisurely meandering as you fondly recollect times gone past; I want you to focus in on those parts of your life that have directly led you to your current career. With all the positions that you have held in this profession, what has happened? Did they all end the same, with you feeling like you hated your job? Or did some of them end on a good note? When you were in school, did you enjoy your classes? Or did you think, “I hate this, but this is just something I need to get through. Working in the real world will be totally different!” Remember why you got into this field in the first place — was it a subject area that really excited you, or did you have to be talked into majoring in it by some well-meaning friend/relative who kept saying, “Oh, you’re perfect for this!”
3. Write it all down. Thoughts that are stuck in your head tend to get all jumbled up and can lead to more confusion. By writing down specifically what you like and what you hate about your work can bring a great deal of clarity to the situation. Also write down the pros and cons of leaving the position. Then, prioritize the points in each list and compare the two. By taking what you think about your job and holding it up to your thoughts on leaving that job, you can easily see what matters most to you and which decision (staying or going) will allow you to be in better alignment with your priorities.
4. Sleep on it. This is your career we’re talking about, so the choices you make in it deserve some consideration. None of the above suggestions should be done in haste. While you can’t get a 100% guarantee that staying or going will make you happier, acting rashly will increase the odds that you will regret the decision you made. Plus, a night or two (or 30) of good sleep can do wonders for gaining clarity!
Are you in a job you hate, or have you previously had a job like that? What have you done to help you figure out the right course of action?
Image courtesy of Alan Cleaver
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