The Devil You Know...is no excuse to stay in a lousy job

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Posted by Otto Suarez - 20 March, 2020

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Is This What You Picture Every Morning?

We've all been there. That soul-crushing job with a terrible boss. Where we are undervalued, underpaid, overworked, and treated like dirt. But why do we stay at these horrible jobs when it is clear they make us miserable? The answer I hear often is, "the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know."

What we are saying by that statement is that we are not mentally prepared to make a move. We come up with excuses as to why changing jobs would not be a good idea (at this time). Fear of the unknown, self-doubt, finances, family responsibilities, the list goes on. Don't get me wrong; there is validity to all these excuses. That is why they are so compelling.

The reality is that all these obstacles to changing jobs we put on ourselves will not go away if we stay. Your family responsibility, the state of your finances, your self-doubt, etc. will not change or improve by staying at your current job. It might make some of these conditions worse. If your boss makes you feel like your performance is never good enough, you might start to feel like your job is on the line. If you combine that with feelings of self-doubt about your abilities, what do you think will happen to your stress over finances or family responsibility in that situation?

According to a recent Gallop poll, 70% of Americans are unhappy at work. That means 30% of the workforce is content. Of those who are unhappy, only a small percentage take action and change jobs. I already know what some of you are thinking: 'Well, I am not happy but not quite miserable at work." Although that may be true, that way of thinking puts you in a state of limbo, usually reinforced by the obstacles we put on ourselves to changing jobs. It is a way to rationalize your stasis.

Should you stay, or should you go? To answer that question, we need to analyze the source of your unhappiness and your options.

Identify the Source of Your Unhappiness

So, you are not happy, now what? Just because you know you are not happy, doesn't mean the source of unhappiness is easy to identify. Sometimes, dissatisfaction in one area colors your entire work experience. For instance, say your micromanaging boss is intolerable. Before you know it, you are going from, "I hate talking to this person" to "I hate my job!"

This step requires you to be introspective and discover what truly makes you happy. Start by creating a list of things you love about your job and the things you hate. Be as specific as possible. Writing, "I would like more customer interaction" or "more vacation time," will help in determining what the source of your unhappiness is and what you can do about it.

Determine Your Next Step.

Once you identify the source(s) of your unhappiness, the next step is to decide what you are going to do. Below are six ways to approach the situation.

Option 1. Do nothing.

Unfortunately, this is the option most people take. They rationalize their discontent or the reasons why it would be impossible for them to find employment elsewhere. This option is appealing because doing nothing about the situation doesn't add to the discomfort already felt by staying in an unhappy environment. The negative side of doing nothing is that it puts a strain on one's health, relationships, and sometimes finances.

Option 2. Stay at your current job.

Even if you determine that you need a change, it does not mean there could not be an internal solution for you. If the problem is specific to one person, group, or location, you may be able to make a move to another site, department, or division, and remain with the organization.

Perhaps the problem is with the position you hold and not the people or the organization. In that case, there may be other career opportunities within the company. These opportunities may require additional training or education, and that is something you can discuss with your current employer.

If the problem is more cultural or stemming from workplace interactions you can't avoid, then it may be time to look outside your company.

Option 3. Do What You Love in the Meantime

Once you analyze the list you put together, you will see what truly makes you happy. If you can't or won't do the full jump into finding another job, then take a small step and use your marketable skills to do what you love. You will find that quite a few of the skills and knowledge you have attained are transferable.

Maybe you identified that you dislike working retail. Still, your customer service skills are transferable to working at a veterinary clinic, and you love working with animals. You could volunteer at a veterinary office or animal shelter until you gain the additional skills required to gain full-time employment in that industry. Since this is something you love, you will spend time on that subject, and naturally, become an expert on it. You will read books about it, practice it, and ultimately get paid for the expertise.

Option 4. Find Another Job

Once you determine that there are no opportunities in your current job, it is time to make a move. 

The best way to do this is to plan. It is easier to find a job while you have one. Not only will you continue to bring in income during the search, but you will be in a position to negotiate your next opportunity. Make sure you have your resume updated, references lined up, and your skills updated. Reach out to recruiters that specialize in your industry. They have inside knowledge of prospective employers, including culture, benefits, and people.

Option 5. Start Your Own Business

A little less than two-thirds of Americans want to start their own business. The ability to widely determine your hours, pay, and fate seems like an attractive prospect. However, this to not typically the reality of most startup businesses at first. Living without the guaranteed income most traditional jobs provide can be somewhat of a challenge for most people. While starting a new business is exciting, it is also a very expensive process. It leaves little room for personal expenditures until profits rise to a consistently positive level.

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. If you're risk-averse, entrepreneurship probably isn't the right path for you. People who work for themselves tend to love it. However, it comes with the complexity of having to manage every piece of the operation, as well as the stress of knowing that success rides entirely on your shoulders; the rewards are enormously attractive.

Option 6. Quit/Lost Job

Sometimes, you do not have time to plan. You could find yourself in a situation where it has become too unbearable to stay, or you find out your job is on the line. This is probably the worse situation. It does not allow you sufficient time to take the necessary steps to ensure you can ride out the days, weeks, or months it will take to find a new job. There are, however, a few things you can do to improve your situation should you decide to quit or if you lost your job.

  • If you have set aside enough resources to carry you through to period you will be unemployed, it will make this period a lot less stressful. Setting aside funds for a rainy day is a good strategy, no matter where we are in our career.
  • Simplify your life. Reduce monthly expenses, so you have additional resources to weather the time you are unemployed. There are many ways to do this, such as cutting cable TV, buying a used car, moving to a smaller residence, selling what you don't need. See what you can cut, and cut it.
  • Take a part-time job. You can add to your cash flow by finding part-time work in something you like. Hey, you never know, this could be the beginning of you finding a new career.
  • Take the time to develop new skills, knowledge, and experience. It could be getting that certification you needed at your old job or learning a new skill such as public speaking. Now that you have some time use it to gain the skills you will need to make you more marketable.
  • Network. You often hear it is not what you know but whom you know. There is some truth to that. People tend to work with people they like. By networking and getting involved in your community, you will come across other business owners and hiring managers that could be a source of referral for your next opportunity.
  • Reach out to recruiters. There are thousands of unadvertised jobs out there and are only available through recruiters. Find recruiters that are specialist in the industry you want to work in or in the type of position you are seeking. They often know hiring managers at the companies you want to work in and could be the trigger to a job opportunity created just for you.

No company is without faults, and no job is perfect. They don't call it work for nothing! But, when you find a job doing what you love, in an organization that cares about you, respects you, and values you, and you work. With a boss that is open, nurturing, supportive, and cares about your career, the payoff is priceless. Your health will improve, your stress level will go down, and your relationships with friends and family will improve as well.

We at Jobtracks are always looking for talented candidates. If you want to find out what your market value is or if you are interested in learning how we discreetly go about searching for the ideal opportunity for you, click the button below to set up a time to talk. 

JobTracks Team

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