We’re all told right from when we are kids to pursue a career we love. To find that thing we do and do well – that thing that gives us joy and make it our 9 to 5. This is advice to live by, no doubt, but as we get older, we begin to think that we have to fit a certain mold if we must get a job doing something we actually love to do. What we read in the university oftentimes serves as the precedent to what paths our careers will eventually take. Though there are certain conventions one has to abide by, keeping your passions hidden because they don’t follow the normal path is no way to live. Situations around us will always change – that’s a given. Say you read a particular course in the university, but discovered it wasn’t the ideal career path for you once you started working. Forcing yourself to stay on a career path even after discovering it’s not for you is a miserable way to live indeed! The saying “Live each day like it’s your last” is so common, it’s a cliche and you know the thing about cliches? No matter how sick we are of hearing them, we can’t deny that they are true. Sadly, most of us ignore this bit of advice, or feel so stuck in our current appointments, we feel like we couldn’t get a better deal, even if we tried. The thing is, if you don’t take the leap and begin to make the changes you would like to see in your career, it would always be the way it is right now. This is a list of steps for breaking free of a job you derive no joy whatsoever from doing.
- Figure out what needs to change: Is it a new boss? A smaller workload? A new, less demanding client? Or a raise? Ask yourself what it would take to make you happy at the job you hate right now. Maybe it’s unfixable and you just hate what you do and want to do something completely different. But while there’s even a chance that your reason for hating your job is fixable, you need to explore whatever avenues are available to make you derive some joy from your 9-to-5. Whatever the outcome of this self-inquiry, knowing whether the cause of your misery is fixable or not will be helpful in figuring out what next. Talk with someone you trust if you’re not sure how to answer this question and let them help you determine your next course of action – whether or not to leave a job you hate immediately.
- Be clear on what matters most to you: This question will help you decide the trade-offs you are willing to make. Maybe you like your job, but have a horrible boss or maybe the gratitude you get from clients when you go above and beyond for them is what is keeping you at the job. Knowing what your bottom line is would help you decide on staying or leaving. You get to decide that maybe you don’t mind a bad boss, as long as you get to keep doing work that you like. Or maybe in spite of a great boss who inspires you and lets you grow as far as your career is concerned, you are still unhappy and need a change. No answer is wrong or right here, just answer honestly and find out what you are willing to sacrifice or hold on to.
- Search for a new job(discreetly): If the questions above lead you to believe you need to leave a job you hate for something new and there’s no joy to be derived from your current workplace, don’t put off searching for a new job until later. Several people, even after discovering that their current job isn’t for them would still fret that they won’t be able to get a new job with all the perks that the current one has. Maybe you have a fantastically short commute or your pay is really good. Whatever your decisions for staying, always keep in mind that every job has its pros and cons and that you will probably change jobs at some point in the future anyway(unless you’re near retirement). Why not start the unpleasant process now and save yourself the misery you’re currently enduring? If you’ve made the decision to search for a new job, it’s best to go about it in a discreet manner. Your boss could see no reason to keep you when it’s clear you’ve decided to leave soon and it could cause him/her to fire you before you’re prepared to leave.
- Don’t quit before you have an alternative: Finding a new job opening and actually getting employed there could take months, so it’s not advisable to quit just because you can’t wait to be done with a job you hate. If you quit prematurely, you could find that a year later, you still haven’t gotten a new job and your savings are all dried up. Employers prefer hiring already-employed job seekers anyway, so your current job might just be what gets you the appointment you’re seeking elsewhere.
- It’s never too early(or too late): Always keep expanding your network. And not just with people of the same gender or race, but try to have as few limits as possible when networking. The point is to make yourself ready for change at all times. You can never be a 100% certain of your job, no matter how secure it appears to be. Know that no time is too early or too late to make a change. When you realize that where you are is not where you want to be, leaving a job, even if it’s a job you hate for an entirely new career could be scary. But those twists and turns and different paths provide a wealth of experience and lead to a more fulfilling career – and life. We are the sum of our experiences and that unique combination is what will make you the perfect asset to the right company. Keep networking and searching until you find out what that might be.