I’ve been working since I was 18 years old and I am now 47. I’ll let you do the math. Oh, never mind, I’ll do it for you, that’s 29 years of working.
In that time, I’ve loved many of my jobs. I mean the kind of love where you literally jump out of bed and can’t wait to get there, you have a big smile on your face most of the time, and just adore the environment and the people you work with.
And then there have been the OTHER jobs. Like the one where the boss would call me from Chicago (our office was in Scottsdale) and yell at me for at least an hour every day for no apparent reason other than I was a low level employee and he felt like he could get away with it.
Or there was the time I worked for a real estate company and my boss would call me in to describe, in detail, the porn he and his wife watched together just so he could see me squirm. Yes, I was being sexually harassed and no, I didn’t do anything formal I just quit. I know. But it was 1990 so that’s what you did.
Those are extremes but there were also many times when I just hated my job. Not because it was an abusive situation, I just wasn’t happy AT ALL and wanted OUT. And when that happens to you (and if you work for any length of time it WILL) you have a few options. And if you’re reading this right now and this is you, let me say to start that you are NOT trapped no matter how you may feel. Because we all have choices and we can all make changes. I want to walk you through 3 questions that will help you decide what to do and how to be strategic in this situation. Are you ready?? Let’s go.
Am I part of the problem?
You have to start here. Because sometimes we get so wrapped up in complaining about what everyone ELSE is doing wrong – our manager, our co-workers, our clients – that we forget to take a long hard look at our personal responsibility. Are you showing up every day and doing all you can to make your organization better? Are you looking around to see how you can bring your co-workers up instead of tearing them down? If not, start there. Sometimes just shifting your view to being others-focused can make a world of difference.
Have I expressed my concerns to someone with the power to make change?
This is important. Because we all vent to co-workers. ALL THE TIME. But that isn’t the same thing as taking our concerns, in a well thought out, mature way, to the people who are in charge, be that our manager, shift-leader, etc. For help on having that conversation, see my post on having scary conversations. I will even go so far as to say that if you haven’t done this, you are definitely part of the problem. And in most situations, you will be happily surprised at the response because every good leader values feedback from those on the front lines of their organization. If they don’t, they aren’t a good leader. They might not agree with your opinion or perspective, but if they don’t take the time to hear you, it’s time to move to question #3.
Is it time to move on? And am I doing everything I can to prepare for the move?
There have been times when I’ve just been stuck. Scratch that, I just FELT like I was. I’ve checked my own behavior to see if I was part of the problem, I’ve shared my concerns with management, and I’ve seen no change after giving it a fair amount of time. But instead of looking for a new opportunity, I’ve just sat and moaned and complained. This isn’t healthy for me or for the people around me (you can ask Scott how fun it is to be married to me when this is the case;).
When it’s time to make a move, and you know in your gut it is, staying will ensure toxicity. The joy has died for you, and if there’s anything worse than a dead body it’s a rotting dead body. Stay and you’ll become toxic to everyone around you. Not good for them, not good for you, and you’re helping exactly NO ONE. So it’s time to update your Linkedin page, make sure your resume is in order, and to reach out to EVERYONE you know and let them know you’re looking for a new opportunity. Or maybe it’s time to get certified in something new, take those classes you’ve been putting of, or finally pursue that degree. If you can’t leave the bad job immediately, often times WORKING in the direction to leave revives your joy enough to see you through. Kind of like starting a new exercise routine or healthier diet – you’re not seeing results yet, but you know you’re FINALLY moving in the right direction and that can bring much needed enthusiasm to everything else you’re doing.
I realize making a change can seem hard or maybe even impossible. Many of you are primary bread-winners and the lives of your family literally depend on your income. This makes it harder, certainly, but not impossible and you are WORTHY of a job that brings you joy MOST of the time. Because as a manager early in my career once told me, you should be happy in your job about 70% of the time. More than that is unrealistic, because everybody has parts of their job they hate. But if you find yourself hating what you do 30%, 40%, 50% of the time? Time to look around and take a long hard look at your options. Because you’re not where you’re meant to be.
I believe in you. You have talents beyond what you currently understand and potential that the world NEEDS. So take the time to figure out what your next move is. Your life is too short and too precious to be spent in a job that you hate. I’m pulling for you. Let me know what I can do to help.