Back in 2015, I was fresh out of graduate school and looking for my first real job. Like many people in my age/education range, I had racked up a ton of student loan debt and needed to find some form of employment quickly before the bills came due. During one of the final days of my internship, my supervisor came in my office and asked if I wanted a job with the company. The catch was I only had two days to respond. This time frame eliminated any chance of my researching companies whose missions were more in line with my values and future plans. I was at a crossroads. I had to choose between a guaranteed job that I knew was not right for me or potentially looking for a job for an extended period of time. Under duress, I signed the contract and cried all the way home after. I stayed at that job for two miserable years, three if you count the year I was there as a student. I am not sure I have ever felt so free again as I did the last time I walked out of that clinic, got in my car, and drove away.
The middle of a pandemic might seem like the exact opposite of a good time to leave your day job, but the reality is quite the opposite. The pandemic has forced workers out of their corporate offices and into their home offices in droves. This time away from the day to day grind of the office environment has given many workers the opportunity to take a step back and re-evaluate their job situation and some aren’t liking what they have found. If any of the following items apply to you, it might be time to head over to Linked In and update that profile of yours.
- Dread: How do you feel on Monday mornings when the alarm goes off? Do you feel rested, energized, and excited about starting your week? Or, do you feel a heaviness in your chest and a sense of dread thinking about yet another week at your job? If you fall into the second category, it might be time to evaluate whether the work you are currently doing is in line with your values. To find out if your work is in line with your values, ask yourself the following questions: Why do I go to work each day? What am I passionate about? If nothing were holding me back, what would I be doing with my life? The answers to these questions will lead you down a path to finding work that you will never dread.
- Sickness: Take a moment to inventory your body. Do you feel tightness in your neck? Shoulders? Jaw line? If so, you are experiencing tension which is brought on by stress. Ongoing stress can lead to all sorts of health issues including, but not limited to, chronic pain, headaches, stomachaches, and insomnia. Stress also weakens your immune system so you might find yourself more vulnerable to illnesses like the common cold. If you have been getting sick a lot more recently, you might want to evaluate your work-related stress level.
- Lack of Respect: How you are treated in the workplace can impact your mental health greatly. If you are talked down to or berated at work, this can impact your self-esteem and overall sense of well-being. To return to my personal example from above, I was working at a primary care clinic that was attempting to integrate mental health treatment. The older providers and most staff members were skeptical of us head shrink types coming in and made it clear that we were outsiders who were to be treated as such. I remember sitting in my office and hearing a front desk worker say to one of my clients, “Oh, you are just here to see Sarah.” Notice, she used my first name, not Dr. Lyall. Further, the dismissive nature of the statement belittled, not only me, but my client who was there for treatment. If you are receiving this kind of treatment, consider it a sign that you can do better than the company you are with.
- Relationships Suffering: According to Business Insider, the average person spends 90,000 hours of their life at work. You can imagine spending this much time in a place that isn’t a healthy environment is going to affect your relationships. If you are constantly coming home stressed and retreating to the television to space out, you aren’t connecting physically or emotionally with the people in your life. Even worse than retreating, some of youmay come home moody after a long stressful day at work. This moodiness might make you quick to snap over little, insignificant things like your husband not taking the trash out. These behaviors leave you and your partner feeling less than fulfilled in your relationship. A job is not worth it.
If you found yourself identifying with the items above, know you are not alone. According to Forbes, 53% of Americans (over half the population) are unhappy with their jobs. Luckily, you have a choice. Know you do not have to stay in a position where you are not being treated with the respect that you deserve. You simply have to take action and put yourself out there. Decide what you want and go get it. If you want another job in your field, update your Linked In and start reaching out to your professional connections. Let them know you are looking for a new opportunity. Alternatively, if you want a change altogether, think about taking your transferrable skills and starting your own business. The only limitations you have are the ones you put on yourself. Don’t limit yourself to a job that depletes you, you deserve so much more than that.