I was curious on how much time we spend at work and decided to do some research. Someone calculated that if we work from the ages of 18–67 (40 hours a week), on average, we spend roughly more than 92,000 hours at work in our lifetime.
That’s an awfully large part of our time that we’re spending at work (not counting the work we have to do outside of the office, of course). Therefore, it stands to reason that we should make sure that we love our work and who we work for.
After all, the key to living a fulfilling work life is not working because we have to but because we want to. However, for many of us, that might not be the case. Many of us might take a job because we’re desperate for a paycheck, or relevant experience, or because we don’t think we can get anything better.
The thing is, I’ve been fairly lucky with how I managed to stumble upon the career I have now. I studied Biology and English in university and when I graduated, I was aching to find a position that would satisfy the core wants I had for a career: allow me to be creative, allow me to write primarily, and something that would challenge me everyday.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to find anything for a long time because I had zero experience doing any of the things I wanted to do at work. So I settled for a job at Starbucks (which I was thankful for) and worked the overnights despite being absolutely miserable. Why? Well — it was a paycheck. I worked the overnights for quite some time before I finally decided enough was enough and that I had to actively find something relevant to my career goals.
Two years later, I’ve got exactly what I want.
Unfortunately, many of my friends don’t and maybe you’re in the same boat. Maybe you’re even thinking about quitting but you’re not sure if you should just stick it out and hope that it gets better.
Here’s how to tell the difference.
You’re Professionally Unfulfilled
I’ve always maintained that the best work a person will produce will be when they’re adequately challenged. Who wants to do the same old boring thing every single day? Outside of work, we might have our routine lives; for those of you who are parents, you have to go home, make sure your kids are doing good, make dinner, maybe do some household work, and then sleep. Rinse and repeat everyday. Do you really want the same thing from your job too?
You’re Emotionally Unfulfilled
When I was volunteering with a research team in university, I started off loving what I did. It had the right mixture of creativity, problem-solving, and thinking analytically. But as time wore on, I began to have mixed feelings and then, negative feelings altogether. Similarly, if you’re not happy and comfortable at your job, you need to start thinking why that could be. Is it the line of work? Your general day-to-day responsibilities? Your co-workers? Your managers? Either way, you need to figure out how to make that problem go away because if you don’t, those negative feelings will creep into your life outside of work very easily.
You Dread Going to Work
…because you hate who you work for but not what you do. Many times people think that the only reason to quit your job is because you hate what you do — that’s not always the case though. If you’re unhappy at work, you need to think about the cause; is it the industry you’re in or is it your employer?
You’re Constantly Disrespected or Put Down
Many people might think being disrespected at work is something you just have to deal with. Truth is, you don’t. There’s a difference between your co-workers or employer making you feel mediocre or making you look like a fool and them offering constructive criticism in order for you to reach your highest potential. The latter will give you goals to strive for and the former will leave you feeling inadequate and brimming with self-doubt.
You and Your Employer Have Different Goals
I can’t stress this one enough. If you and your employer can’t agree on the goals of the company, or hey even your position, then you’ve got a problem. Everyone has slightly differing opinions but the focus should be the same. That’s the only way you’re going to be able to take decisions pertaining to your role within the company without constantly having to go to your employer just to make sure you’re on the same page.
You Don’t Feel Appreciated
What many managers don’t realize is how motivating it is to hear them say, “Hey, you did a great job on ______” even if it is in passing. If you’re working for someone who’s quick to point out whenever you do something wrong but fails to say a work when you knock something out of the ballpark, you’ve got a problem. Like I mentioned earlier, constructive criticism is necessary to do better at work but if you do something well, you should be recognized for it — even if it’s a quick ten-second thank you.
You’re Constantly Complaining About Your Job
How many of us catch up with our friends on the regular and talk about work? Majority of us, I’m sure but if you find yourself complaining about your job regularly, it’s a pattern you can’t ignore. Of course, every job has its ups and downs but the second you get into a place where you’re complaining more than you’re celebrating your work victories, rethink your worklife.
Listen at the end of the day, I get it — the job market is tough, especially if you’re a recent graduate desperate to get some experience and make a name for yourself. And if you’ve managed to somehow stumble upon an entry-level position after months (maybe even a year or two) of searching, there’s no way you’d want to just quit, would you?
Except sometimes, you just have to.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you make an impulsive decision and quit on the spot without having something else lined up. But it does mean that you should get off your butt and start looking.
If you do, good luck. I truly hope you find something better. It might take a while but I promise the risk will be worth it.