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5 Reasons Why You Should Stay in a Job You Hate

August 26, 2018

Reading Time: 6 minutes

READ TIME: 7 MINUTES

Since launching this blog and being generally more open about my career ups and downs, I’ve shared that back in August of 2016 – right before my wedding – I left a full time job (with decent benefits) at a “really cool” place to work in New Orleans.

I was VERY unhappy in this role. Dare I say, I hated it?

Yeah – I’ll say it. I hated it.

It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.

{DISCLAIMER: My misery could very well be someone else’s joy – so I would never intentionally disparage this place of employment. It just wasn’t a good fit for ME.}

The environment: A windowless, cinder block cave area – and my desk was directly beneath a (loud) air conditioning unit.

The hours: I was told by my supervisor, who previously had my responsibilities, that she came into the office at 6AM every morning to get the job done – because that’s what this job required. Plus evening events 2-3 days/week and some weekends.

The subject matter: I went into it thinking that it would be fun, and it just wasn’t fun to me.

True story: One of the biggest crises I dealt with was explaining to a higher up that “the color red on a computer screen and the same color red when it’s printed on paper are not going to look the same.” Y’all. It was a serious red ink emergency that required multiple meetings and hours on the phone with our printer. It felt like the twilight zone after working through actual crises like the BP Oil Spill, hurricanes and droughts in past positions.

After a panic attack (or two) in the stairwell, and crying in my car before work – no, I’m not afraid to admit those things, because that’s life – I knew something had to give.

“Crying in the car day” could also be called “the day I filed for an LLC with the Secretary of State’s office even though I had no idea what I would eventually do with it.”

So, aiming to change my circumstances, I drew up a proposal that included three possible scenarios moving forward, and presented it to my supervisors. I’ll even let you WAY behind the curtain and share a summary:

A: Stay, with slightly different responsibilities and hours.
B: Leave, but take them on as a consulting client.
C: Leave.

After the meeting, I walked downstairs to the gift shop and bought a piece of jewelry to commemorate the occasion. For me, this cuff has come to represent strength, resilience, forward motion and possibility.

A few days later, we moved forward with Scenario C – and I gave my official notice.

Cue the sigh of relief.

So – in honor of my two year anniversary of leaving a job that I hated, I’m sharing 5 reasons why you actually SHOULD stay in a job you hate.

I’m using the word “job” in this scenario, but alternate titles  for this post could have easily been:

5 Reasons Why You Should Stay in a Nonprofit Volunteer Position You Hate OR
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Fire that Client You Hate

Let’s dig in:

REASON 1: YOU’VE HATED YOUR JOB FOR LESS THAN A MONTH.

Is it possible that this is just a season or a temporary situation that will pass? Are you deep into a project you don’t enjoy, but can see a tiny, faint light at the end of the tunnel?

The first ounce of tension or discomfort in a job isn’t necessarily a reason to run for the hills and start blasting out your resume. Personal growth can be uncomfortable, and it’s possible that you’re experiencing some growing pains that might actually benefit you once you reach the other side.

If you stick with it and continue to hate your job for a continuous, extended period of time, there might be something there beyond your temporary unhappiness.

REASON 2: YOU HAVEN’T ARTICULATED THE REASONS WHY YOU HATE YOUR JOB.

It’s one thing to say, “I hate my job.” It’s another thing entirely to understand exactly why you hate your job.

If you can’t name 5-10 actual reasons offhand why you feel the way you do, it’s time to put pen to paper and make a list.

Why is this important?

How can you expect to avoid the same recipe for disaster in your next job if you don’t identify what you dislike (and possibly like) about your current job? Awareness is the first step to change, and making yourself aware of the aspects that are causing your misery can help you scope out red flags in the next interview.

REASON 3: YOU’VE MADE LITTLE TO NO ATTEMPT TO CHANGE YOUR SITUATION, OR YOUR ATTEMPTS TO CHANGE YOUR SITUATION HAVE FAILED.

If you can articulate the actual reasons why you hate your job, then you should be able to come up with a few potential solutions for changing your situation. Then, start trying out what you can. Who knows – maybe your supervisor would be amenable to you occasionally working from home, working flex hours or hiring an intern. You won’t know until you try.

For me, I was miserable in my dark, windowless work environment and tried to change my situation by occasionally working across the street in a well-lit lobby with tons of natural light and a coffee shop just a few steps away. But, this was NOT ok with my supervisors who wanted constant access to me.

To address my workload, I lobbied to hire an intern. This was successful and I was able to hand off a lot of my smaller, yet time-consuming tasks while mentoring a pre-college student.

For brevity’s sake, I’ll skip over a few other efforts and cut to the final act:

Creating a proposal with three scenarios was my last ditch effort to improve the overall work situation. You already know how that story ended. 

REASON 4: YOU HAVE ZERO SAVINGS OR SAFETY NET.

This one is huge. You want to be happy, but you don’t want to be broke or find yourself under a mountain of credit card debt. I’ll admit, I had zero personal savings and was over $10K in credit card debt when I left the aforementioned job. I was living paycheck to paycheck, had a car note, car insurance and other financial responsibilities that professionals in their late-twenties often enjoy.

My proposal with 3 scenarios was not created without a lot of discussion with my fiancé (now husband). We mapped out our financial strategy for the next 6 months to ensure that we’d be able to cover our expenses while I determined my next move.

Both my parents and his parents offered to help us financially in different ways in order to make the transition possible for us. We were VERY fortunate to have this safety net in order to figure things out. I recognize what a blessing that was, and that not everyone has the same opportunities we were given.

Your situation may be different. In fact, I truly hope it’s different, because I know how much it sucks to have debt and no savings. It’s downright scary. So – before you start packing up your desk, think through your financial situation and how you can reasonably and realistically make it through 3-6 months without consistent income.

REASON 5: YOU HAVE ZERO IDEA WHAT YOU WANT TO DO NEXT.

If you’ve done all of the above – you’ve articulated why you want to leave, you’ve attempted to make change, you’ve gotten your financial plan in order – but you still have no idea what you want to do next… you need to stick around just a little longer.

I’m not going to tell you that you must have a job lined up before you leave your current job – because that would be downright hypocritical – and I don’t believe it’s necessary.

I will tell you, that you need to have an idea of where you’re heading so you can be laser-focused with your time as you’re trying to get from Point A (no job) to Point B (next job).

Some things to consider: 

  • What marketable skills do you have?

  • Have you created a personal brand for yourself, or defined your core values?

  • What do you actually like about your job, and can you find that somewhere else?

  • Is there a new industry you could explore?

  • Do you want to work for yourself?

What educational opportunities or conference attendance does your current job offer that could be beneficial to your future?

Sometimes I say that I left this job two years ago without a plan and no idea what I was going to do next.

That’s only about half true.

  • I knew that I wanted to work for myself.

  • I knew that I wanted to have control over my work schedule.

  • I knew that I wanted to do work that was meaningful.

  • I knew that I wanted to work for clients that I believed in.

  • I knew that I wanted to encourage others walking similar paths by sharing my experiences.

I didn’t know exactly what that would look like, but I knew where I wanted to start – and accepted that although I might not know what the end result would be, that I had to start somewhere in order to figure it out.

So if any of the above sounds familiar. If you kinda hate your job, or really hate your job, I encourage you to take stock of these 5 things before you cut and run.

ASK YOURSELF

  • Do I hate my job, or is this a temporary season?

  • Do I know anyone who is miserable in their job that could use encouragement?

  • What do I like about my current job that I want to find or enhance in my next job?

  • If I could make my current job perfect, what would I change about it?

LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE

  • Pause to consider how you feel about your current job, nonprofit volunteer assignment or client roster. It’s easy to get so caught up in day-to-day hustle that we get stuck on autopilot and aren’t assessing our feelings.

  • Be encouraging to someone you know who is currently very unhappy with their job.

  • If you lead a team, take some time to observe them and pay attention to their attitudes. Often, a tense exterior is hiding unhappiness. As a leader, taking time to talk with and listen to your team can uncover hidden issues that with minor adjustments lead to increased job satisfaction for your team members.

What will it take you to get from chaos to calm?

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