You wake up on Sunday. Monday is already giving you anxiety. Sound familiar? Half of your weekend ruined because you’re thinking of the week ahead?
It would be easy to quit that job you hate… if you could afford it. The obvious solution is to find a new one, but easier said than done.
So what do you do?
According to a 2015 article in the Telegraph, 47% of all workers in the UK want to change their jobs…
You are definitely not alone. You could almost call it an epidemic.
I get it.
In the early 2000’s I endured a string of 3 consecutive jobs that I hated.
I know what you’re thinking… “3 jobs? Was it really the job… or was it you?”
It was mostly me.
They were jobs I wasn’t suited to, and as a result I was miserable.
Are you in the wrong job?
Is your job worth saving?
Maybe you enjoy the work, but not the people, or the lack of upward mobility, or the commute.
Under those circumstances, it might be worth finding a solution.
However, if you’re just not suited to the type of work you’re doing, a change may be necessary.
If your job requires that you talk to people all day… but you don’t like talking to people, it’s going to be a miserable 8 hours.
You might be an office person stuck working outdoors. Or vice-versa.
It’s NOT bad to go beyond your comfort zone, to learn and grow. But, subjecting yourself to misery isn’t growing.
It’s Okay To NOT LIKE What You Do
“I felt like something was wrong with me and I’m destined to be unhappy”
…said Jenny Blake, author of the book PIVOT, The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One.
On a recent podcast, she discussed her role as co-founder of Google’s career development and mentorship program.
“I wasn’t happy at Google. What’s wrong with me? This is a dream company. Two years into my own business, I’m hitting this wall again. What’s my problem?”
“Am I so entitled or spoiled that I can only work on things I want to work on? What’s wrong with me? Buck up.” You know? “How many people are at jobs they don’t like? Why am I resisting this?” I just had to realize it was because it’s not my strength.”
Whatever your job is, you’re not obligated to be happy. Everyday people quit their jobs (some high paying dream jobs) to pursue something different, or more meaningful.
There’s nothing wrong if you don’t like what you’re doing.
We hear this, especially from previous generations when things were more difficult. Now… I’m 43, so some may consider me to be from a previous generation. 😀
But the point is, they had challenges unique to their time. We have challenges unique to this time. One is not more important than the other. The world has changed and there is nothing wrong with wanting more from life.
Happy THANKFUL You Have a Job.
You’ve probably heard this one before. Maybe your friends have said it.
“Just be happy you have a job.”
It’s true, in most cases… having a job (or a business or a career) is better than not having one. But… being THANKFUL for it, and being HAPPY about it, are two different things.
Why should you be happy you have a job you HATE?
The main reason for this job is money, correct?
So, what people really mean when they say, “Just be happy you have a job” is, “just be happy you have money“.
When did money become happiness?
I can think of a dozen celebrities that are no longer with us… who were obviously unhappy despite having money. A lot of money.
Happy to have a job, is really THANKFUL to have a job.
There’s an important lesson here.
No one is the judge of your happiness (or unhappiness). But people do it all of the time, don’t they?
THAT person should be THIS way, and THIS person should be THAT way…
If I had what THEY had…
But the truth is, we really don’t know what other people are going through… what experiences they’ve had, or what they’re thinking.
When my daughter is down about something, I always tell her “It’s okay to be… NOT okay”.
I could say be happy you have a roof over her head, you have food to eat, and you’re still young with so many years ahead of you.
I can think of any number of reasons she should be happy. But it only takes one thing to bring us down.
Only YOU can judge how you feel, and why you feel that way. Maybe you know the reasons, maybe you don’t… but the reason is yours, no one else’s.
Obviously there comes a point when unhappiness requires professional attention, and that’s well beyond the scope of this article. The message here is simply if you’re unhappy with your job, and it’s no one’s concern whether or not you should… or shouldn’t be.
It’s Not The Job You Hate, It’s Your Lack of Options
The real problem is not the job. No one is holding a gun to your head, saying you have to go to work. You can simply NOT go.
But then what?
You have financial responsibilities. People are counting on you. And if you quit, what are you going to do?
The problem is you either have no options, or the options you have are no better.
You’re caught between a rock and hard place. There’s no reason to sugar coat it. You only have a few choices.
And that’s also the good news. With only a few choices, it’s not that complicated.
You can quit. You can stay (and be miserable). Or, you can make changes that make the job better.
Changes can be external. Confronting a co-worker for example. Or telling the boss you’re not getting the training or support you need.
Changes can also be internal. Being thankful… making a list of things you like about the job. Maybe the hours are good. Maybe the job gives you some freedom, or more time with family than you’d have otherwise.
Each morning, go over your list and be thankful. You might be surprised how much this changes your perspective.
And then… start building options. Don’t get caught again, with no where to go or nothing else to do.
“Wealth is not about having a lot of money; it’s about having a lot of options.”
― Chris Rock
I’ll come back to the topic of options in a moment.
The road ahead is one thing, but you still have to deal with the present situation.
No one wants to be unhappy. It’s even more difficult when it’s your job. And you have to do it reasonably well, or you may not have a job at all.
But you’re there now, so let’s look at it objectively. I know, it’s not easy.
There are 3 suggestions I have. You may disagree (I certainly don’t know your specific situation), but I’ll go into further detail.
- It’s not as bad as you think.
- There is only NOW.
- Life is more than money.
It’s Not as Bad as You Think
When faced with a bad situation, it’s normal to think of worst case scenarios.
Catastrophic thinking is believed to be a mechanism that allowed early humans to survive. When our ancestors were faced with uncertainty, the ones who could imagine potential dangers lived.
Take a dark cave for example. Those that could look inside and imagine a waiting bear, didn’t go in. The ones without that ability, went in and were eaten. Survival of the smartest.
Over many generations, the ones who understood risk survived, and the ones who couldn’t did not.
As a result, today we’ve evolved into a paranoid bunch… always thinking the worst is going to happen.
But it rarely does?
How often do events play out exactly as you had imagined?
So now you’re stuck in this job, imagining how things might be if you quit.
The bills that won’t get paid.
If THIS happens, then THAT will happen. And then if THAT happens, THIS will happen and so on…
The truth is, we have no idea what will happen. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry, and not plan for the worst. What it does mean however, is that the anxiety and fear of what MIGHT happen is NOT REAL.
The Only Thing That Exists Is ‘NOW’
The past doesn’t exist. The future doesn’t exist.
They are both just thoughts in our heads.
Eckhart Tolle, author of the books The Power of Now, and A New Earth talks about the NOW,
“You have never been in the NOT NOW, and you will never be in the NOT NOW“
… meaning, it’s always NOW. We can’t exist in the NOT NOW.
When I was a kid, my Mom used to say,
“Wherever you go… there you are.”
I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time, but I see the wisdom in it now. Another one you’ve probably heard is,
“Tomorrow never comes”.
During one of Eckhart’s seminars (I have many hours on Audible, and apologize I can’t remember which one) he talks about an old pub that had a sign on the wall that read,
“Free Beer Tomorrow”
When people would come in the next day, they’d ask the bartender for free beer. He’d point at the sign,
“It says tomorrow”
Our brains don’t differentiate well between the present moment, and our past and future. In fact, the past and future are heavily favored and the present often ignored.
However, only the present is happening. The past and future are only thoughts.
Why does this matter?
The Question That May Have Saved My Life
I first listened to Eckhart Tolle during an extremely difficult time in my life. I was dealing with a life changing event, and it occupied every thought for weeks.
I had to travel for work. On the drive I was listening to The Power Of Now audiobook, thinking it would be good background noise. An hour or two into the drive, Eckhart asked a question.
He said (or at least I heard), “What problems do you have right now?”
“Wow!” I thought, “Where do I even start?” My entire life was a mess at the time. I had so many problems… that my problems had problems.
But then he said something else.
“What problems do you have NOW? Not problems that you had 5 minutes ago, and NOT problems that you have 5 minutes from now. What problems do you have NOW?”
You mean right now? This very moment, NOW?
I couldn’t come up with any.
What could be so bad? I was comfortable in my car, I was driving (one of my favorite things to do), the sun was shining. I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t too hot or too cold. At that very moment, I had no problems.
It was then that I realized that most problems are smaller than we think.
Nothing had changed. I still had the same problems. Only, I had turned them into a Massive Monster of suffering that really only existed in my head. I was thinking of everything that led to up to those problems… and the years ahead. I was imaging (even experiencing) my apocalypse from the chain of events that might occur.
All in my head.
Even if the worst turned out to be real, there was nothing I could do while I was driving.
At that very moment… I had no problems. So I decided to let 5 minutes (or 5 years) from NOW, worry about itself.
“Remember then: there is only one time that is important– Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.”
Life is More Than Money
Money is important. Having a job is important. But it’s not the only thing.
Our families are important. Our time is important. Breathing is important.
I worked in construction for many years, which keeps you jumping from project to project.
The thing is, not all projects begin and end at the same time. And, between projects there are often gaps.
When times are tough, it can be a game of musical chairs. More people than jobs.
Of course we do what we can to prepare for the lean times, but it’s normal to consider the worst. Now that we’ve learned about Catastrophic Thinking, we know our thoughts are headed there anyway.
Years ago my wife and I were having this conversation. What if we ran out of money?
She was worried so I asked her,
“What’s the worst case scenario?”
“Well,” she said. “We could get behind on the bills. We could lose our cars, the house, go hungry…”
“Sure,” I responded. “It’s possible. Not likely… but possible. But let’s say we get behind on the bills, maybe even lose one of the cars.”
“Our credit will be ruined.” she said.
“Probably. But so what.” I said
She looked at me. It was obvious she thought I’d gone crazy.
Okay… it’s not ideal. In fact, it’s a pretty big problem… a serious setback. But it’s not life or death.
I remember saying at the time, if we ran out of money today (I was between projects at the time)… I’d wake up tomorrow, drive the kids to school, stop for a coffee on the way home, relax and start working on a plan.
The bank wasn’t going to knock on my door that day.
And, this isn’t hypothetical. I actually did put a plan into action… to reduce the amount of money I needed in the first place.
I traded my two vehicles in for cheaper ones.
It wasn’t easy stepping down. But it’s just stuff right?
I still had (and have) my family. Our health. I was still breathing. And I still had opportunity.
I bought the car I wanted once, I wasn’t worried that I’d do it again.
Life consists of many things, and money is just one. It’s not everything. It’s not even the most important thing.
And who knows… maybe taking a step back can be an opportunity to rebuild stronger, better and happier.
Those were my thoughts, and I understand your situation may be drastically different. I’m NOT saying to quit your job.
What I’m saying is, there are far worse things that can happen.
“Rule number one is, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it’s all small stuff.”
– Robert Eliot
There’s a reason I wasn’t really worried. As I mentioned earlier, I had been down this road before.
Years ago after struggling with a string of bad jobs, I found it difficult to find work.
I was clinging to all the stuff I had. The thought of losing it caused me anxiety, worry, depression. But eventually, I lost a lot of it… including my good credit rating.
When I finally did find work, starting pay was about one third of what I was previously making.
But here’s the thing…
I liked that job. Looking back, it’s the job I enjoyed most. Within a few years I had climbed the ladder so to speak, and was managing several locations.
I got back everything I had lost, restored my credit rating and even started saving.
During the time I was struggling (about 15 years ago now), everything seemed so big and important. But from a distance (years later), it was actually quite small.
I was reminded of this recently when I heard Robert Cialdini on the James Altucher Show. He quoted a Chinese proverb,
“The years say what the days can’t tell”
I don’t want to bore you further with my story. I’d just like to say say quickly, what I failed to do during that rebuilding phase of my life, was create options. I should have learned, but I didn’t.
I made the same mistake years later and found myself in a job I wasn’t suited to. Again, I was unhappy and I felt trapped. It was more serious this time, since I had a 3 year old and a newborn at home.
That’s when it occurred to me. It wasn’t the job I hated. I mean… I didn’t like it. But what I hated more, was not having anywhere else to go.
Having options became a necessity, and this may be where you find yourself now.
There are dozens of directions you can go.
I changed my entire career. From the comfort of an office chair and company car, to hauling around a bag of tools as an electrical apprentice. I was working under kids, many who were half my age.
But I promised myself I’d never be stuck without options again… and although it took me 4 years I became a Journeyman electrician.
Along the way I also got a Class 1 license (CDL I think it’s called in the US), and I started an online business. Today, although I know nothing is certain… I don’t feel backed into a corner anymore
What Are Some Options?
What do you want to do? David Allen once said, “You can do anything, but not everything.”
It took me years, decades actually, to figure that out.
So, while the list of things you like to do may be long, you will need to prioritize.
For example, I’ve been working on a novel for years… I’d like to do that.
I’d also like to get more serious about playing guitar, doing martial arts with my kids, and of course… I need to get in the gym on a regular basis, and while I’m at it I’d like to move closer to friends and family.
You get the point. I can choose any one of those things, but not all.
What I was certain of, however, is that I’d never get to any of those things if I didn’t look after 2 things. My physical health, and my financial health.
Since I like to (need to) create and to write (as you can probably tell) I decided that starting a website and an online business was my best option.
Maybe you’d like to start a buy & sell business, or if you’ve got a specific skill, playing guitar for example, you can teach others.
If you could earn just enough to supplement your income, you might be able to afford a less stressful job?
It’s a unique era we live in, with seemingly countless opportunities to earn on the side, and even replace your income from home.
To get the ball rolling, here are a few ideas.
- Become a freelancer https://www.upwork.com/i/howitworks/freelancer/
- Complete surveys for companies doing market research. Check out Survey Junkie.
- Work from home as a virtual assistant, “The Bootstrap VA: The Go-Getter’s Guide to Becoming a Virtual Assistant, Getting and Keeping Clients, and More!”
As I mentioned a moment ago, I started an online business.
My favorite method of making money online is Affiliate Marketing. The program I recommend is Wealthy Affiliate because they have a free membership option.
The best thing about affiliate marketing is it provides passive income, which can free up your time so you can pursue some of the other goals you have.
In addition, there’s no specific skill required, and you’re not dealing with product shipments, warehousing and so on.
Then there are more traditional paths. If it’s possible, returning to school might be an option. Or starting a trade.
I have a friend who built a successful and profitable family photography business. That’s her full-time business now.
Another who took bookkeeping courses runs her own business and has several clients that keep her busy.
It just takes a little creativity, searching and asking.
There’s no magic bullet. I wish there was.
Whether you stay at your current job or leave… your key to a better future is to create options for yourself. We can’t control our circumstances, but we can do our best so they don’t control us.
Another reason to have options is because our economy is facing challenges we haven’t seen before. You may like your next job, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be 100% secure.
In future articles I will be exploring more ways to generate a second income. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found this article helpful.
Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And if you found this article useful, or think it might be helpful for others… Please share.