As you can tell from the title of this post, I’m making a few blunt assumptions about you.
I imagine that you are currently in a job you are not happy with. One that you might in fact hate. Maybe you are on your way there right now, wishing you could just turn back around and go home again.
If this is you, I know exactly how you’re feeling. I’ve felt this way many, many times in my life.
I’ve had jobs where I’ve cried in the elevator up to the office every morning. Jobs where I’ve drunk copious amounts of water and coffee so that I could take frequent (and embarrassingly long) bathroom breaks. Jobs where I’ve felt so excruciatingly bored/stressed out/miserable that I’ve faked illnesses and literally escaped in the middle of the day.
I’ve sat on so many buses, trains and subways on my way to or from work, with dead eyes, wondering if this is what the rest of my life will be like: early mornings and tired afternoons squeezed in-between strangers with that same glazed-over look in their eyes.
Wondering if they are thinking the same thing, or if it’s just me. If I’m just overly sensitive. If I should just suck it up like everybody else and be thankful that I at least have a job to go to.
No job is fun all the time. I get that. Even the most exciting career has its tired Monday mornings, tedious routines and occasional conflicts. You can’t expect your job to be a never-ending joy ride.
But what about when your job feels like a vampire slowly sucking the life out of you?
What if you have to fasten your fake smile every morning with a staple gun.
What if you spend your work days feeling undermined, under-utilized, unimportant. A replaceable cog in a machinery you couldn’t care less about.
What if you thank the gods when you wake up with a sore throat and can call in sick.
What if you count the hours, minutes and seconds until the end of your shift. The end of the week. Your summer vacation. Your retirement.
And the thought that you might be stuck in this job for even one more week depresses you. Makes you want to self-medicate with alcohol, junk food and mindless TV watching.
That’s when it’s time for an intervention. This blog post is just that - an intervention.
Is it reasonable to spend 40+ hours a week in a job that makes you scream on the inside, or simply feel indifferent? Is it acceptable to spend a third of your day doing stuff you loathe and the remaining two thirds either asleep or exhausted? Should you really “make do” with a life like that?
Not when there are other options. And believe me, there are.
You have options
Even if your current job feels like your best or only option right now. Even if you can come up with countless reasons for staying:
“I have no education.”
“I have no work experience.”
“I have no contacts.”
“I have no self-discipline.”
“I have no confidence.”
“I have no idea what I want to do with my life.”
“I have to take what I can get.”
“I have to just suck it up and not be such a diva.“
“I studied for 4 years to get this job.”
“The pay is good.”
“I really should be enjoying this.”
No matter your reasons, if you dread going to work every day, something’s wrong. And the excuses you tell yourself are your negative beliefs and self-imposed limitations talking.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my career so far, (and from playing lots of video games), it’s that the rules can be changed. We have more options than we think. We have more skills and talents than we give ourselves credit for. And we just have to lift our heads from whatever we’re toiling away in and be honest with ourselves.
We need to have the courage to rock the boat.
Make a decision
Changing your situation starts with a decision. You can decide to suck it up and accept the circumstances you’re in. You can play by the rules and decide that it's "good enough". Or you can decide:
“This is not for me. I deserve something better.”
Isn’t it weird that it’s considered almost greedy to want something more out of your job than just a paycheck? God forbid we should also require our job to be fun or comfortable or meaningful.
I’ll be the first to admit: I’ve always been very greedy. Very bad at sucking it up. Very much a diva.
Early on in my career, I had this hunch that working 9-5 for someone else was not my cup of tea. I did it anyways, for all of the reasons listed above. And some of my jobs were really fun for a while. But every job I took brought me closer to the truth about what type of career I really wanted. I wanted freedom and independence and creative fulfillment.
In your case, maybe you just haven’t found the right occupation or the right workplace for you.
Maybe you should go to college.
Maybe you should go live in another country.
Maybe you should go freelance.
Maybe you should start a blog and become a solopreneur.
I couldn’t possibly know what’s right for you. My point is: you have options. Those options might feel uncharted, unsafe and difficult, but they are doable. If I could do it, so can you.
So what can you do, today, right now, to start moving away from the life sucking treadmill that is your current job and start moving towards something more enjoyable?
Start by making the decision.
“This is not for me. I deserve something better.”
Because you know, the second you make that decision you acquire a kind of superpower: the power to endure a painfully drudging job for as long as you have to before you can move on. And the power to start moving in the direction of your dreams.
How to break free
With this newfound superpower, you can go to work with a secretive smile on your face. Perform your duties to the best of your ability and in the meantime: Plot your escape. Do some soul searching. Do some research. Bide your time. Save up money.
By turning your boredom and despair into quiet determination, you get the fuel you need to break free.
And the next step?
Surround yourself with inspiration. Educate yourself. For me, this meant reading every book I could find on freelancing and entrepreneurship, and listening to podcasts about those same topics.
And finally, if you are in a job you hate, remember this:
You are not alone.
You have options.
This is not for you.
You deserve something better.
Now go make it happen.