Whether you are an experienced middle-aged executive or an ambitious young professional in his quarter-life crisis, you have indeed wondered whether your job is a good fit for you.
Let’s make it clear: work is work. Otherwise, it would be leisure. But you can still find fulfilment in what you do for a living. Unless you can’t.
If you find yourself in any of the following situations, maybe it’s time to consider a career switch.
1. Morning sickness
Getting out of bed is a struggle. Monday morning is a curse. Commuting to work is a torture. You always feel your stomach wrenched, your mouth bitter. Scanning your badge at the entrance gives you physical pain. Standing in the lift going up reminds you of the last mile of a condemned man: you wish for someone to save you at the very last minute.
Well, dear, your body, your brain, your whole self is clearly shouting at you to STOP THIS MADNESS NOW. Perhaps you should listen to it.
2. Broken dreams
“I can’t believe this will be my life until retirement.”
“That’s not what I imagined when I was a child.”
“Was that what I long wished for?”
You keep muttering these words over and over. You see your friends and colleagues happily settled in their supposed-to-be-perfect lives, but that’s not your case. Your expectations have been betrayed, and you cannot come to terms with it. You wish a different ending – hopefully a happy one.
Accepting that life is not a sunset walk on the beach pier is common sense. Giving up to a life full of disappointment and regret is self-hatred.
“When did the future switch from being a promise to a threat?”C. Palahniuk
3. Lack of meaning
You don’t like your job.
It’s not about the subject; it’s about you.
It’s not about the environment; it’s about you.
It’s not about the team; it’s about you.
You simply don’t like what you do and don’t give a damn about it. Your lack of interest makes you unconcerned and sloppy. Either you neglect your work or force yourself to perform (perfectionists, I am talking to you).
In the best-case scenario, you are reported to your boss and eventually sacked off. In the worst-case scenario, you drain your energies day after day to meet deadlines, objectives, and others’ expectations. That makes your weeks, months, and finally your entire life miserable.
4. Work-life (im)balance
It’s a cool job. You even like it. Salary is good and makes your ends meet. Your position grants you certain benefits. Your colleagues are friendly, and your working space is modern and agreeable. Or maybe you are self-employed, network a lot, and enjoy an entrepreneurial lifestyle. It would be your dream job if only…
Unfortunately you spend your whole life at work. Your days are long and hectic. Your time off is haunted by late-evening emails, unexpected calls, and urgent matters that demand your full attention even on Sunday morning. You hardly have time to think, let alone relax. You are always overworked and tired. Your health and well-being worsen as do your private relationships.
Work is an essential part of our days. It somehow defines who we are (engineers, teachers, farmers) and what we have achieved (assistants, supervisors, CEOs). But that’s it: just one part of a bigger pie. Don’t let your work eat up your life. There is much more beyond the office door.
“I don’t live to work; I work to live.”N. Gallagher
5. Toxic environment
Although corporate culture has changed in the last decade and team building activities lead the way, toxic working environments do still exist. If your colleagues don’t miss a chance to stab you in the back, your boss is bossy, and you feel isolated and helpless, there is only one thing to do: run.
Harassment stresses you out and undermines your self-esteem. Harassment is also challenging to report for that is often an attitude rather than an actual nasty behaviour. And it is almost impossible to prove.
Endurance is a good quality, but your personal and professional equilibrium is more important.
6. My name is Fake
Let’s be honest: you are not yourself. Whatever it is you feel uncomfortable with, you pretend otherwise. You get into the office in the morning and put on a mask until you check out. You fake it when sitting at your desk. You fake it during the coffee break. You fake it in meetings. You fake it over lunch. Maybe you stop faking it in the loo, but it lasts until someone gets into.
A former boss once told me: “You always look like holding your breath. Relax.” That hit me badly. So does it get noticed? It does. You can show easiness, involvement, satisfaction even, but you will be caught out eventually. That will not stir your colleagues’ resentment or your boss’ disappointment: it will hit you. And it will just be sad.
7. Lost years
Your days look all the same. You don’t know which date is today nor what happened last week. You count the days to weekends, bank holidays, and summer breaks. You long for retirement. Basically you wish for time to pass quicker, for you to age faster, to finally pursue what you truly care about. Meanwhile, you carry on with a life you hate or can’t appreciate enough.
It may be hard to admit, but often we lock ourselves up in our own cages. Take ownership of your life and free yourself. Remember? You Only Live Once.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”S. Jobs
A final note on money
We all need to make money to live. That’s why we call it “earn a living”. And unless you are Paris Hilton, finding – and keeping – a job is a must. For this reason, you just need to swallow your dissatisfaction sometime.
However, you don’t have to do it forever. If you cannot leave your current job, stick to it. In the meantime, build a plan B, C, and Z if necessary. And follow through with it until your current life dissolves in a vague memory of an unpleasant past. It’s going to be exhausting and extremely challenging, and you could possibly fail.
But what if you succeed?
“And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.”G. Mallory
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