Hands up if you’ve ever had a job that’s made you miserable?
It seems that holding on and ‘putting up with it’ is more common than we think: Gallup reported in 2017 that 51 percent of employees have a foot out the door, and Deloitte’s 2013 Shift Index found that worker passion was at a lowly 11 percent.
So why do we hold on for so long? Is it the burden of looking for a new role? Fear of change? Economic uncertainty ? Or better the devil you know?
But, based on the experience of clients and my own experience, putting up with the stress of staying in a role you don’s like can leech into other areas of your life.
And considering it takes most job seekers an average of three to six months to find a new role (longer if you’re looking for a senior position), spending 40+ hours a week in a place that does your head in can be psychologically destructive, leading to stress related illness, depression and anxiety, loss in confidence, even residual anger.
I’ve written previously about how to alleviate stress while you’re waiting for the next opportunity, but before we even get there - here are the signs and reasons why it’s time to go
a) easily upset/angry and frustrated
B) bored and want nothing to do with work
Do you roll your eyes at every single thing you do or are asked to do? Would you rather scratch your eyes out than going to staff events and meetings?
Starting to resent your co-workers and boss, becoming utterly bored with your work, or feeling your skills are underutilised may lead to sinking further into a spiral of resentment if you stay.
Even things like always being late for work and disappearing for long periods are signs it’s time to go.
Unless you’re intellectually stimulated or feel like your contribution is appreciated, you’re unlikely to put your in best effort. You risk being reported for lacklustre work, lack of engagement, or worse, being fired because of poor performance. You want to leave on your terms, right?
2. You’re overworked and not being rewarded - with no sign of it ending.
It’s normal to feel some stress, it can even be beneficial in short bursts because it gives you adrenaline to perform at your best.
But being powerless and unable to control how you do your work, the circumstances under which you work, trying to reach unrealistic targets and/or not having adequate support from co-workers and management can lead to sustained periods of high stress leaving you overwhelmed, possibly unable to concentrate or complete your work because you’re distracted, feeling tense or constantly on edge.
Sustained periods of chronic stress can cause more psychological damage than you realise, leading to (or exacerbating ) anxiety and depression, affecting your relationships outside work, and putting you at risk of injury, fatigue and burnout.
3. You’re constantly irritable, negative and all you can talk/complain about is work - even when you’re not at work
Be honest - are you boring your friends and family senseless with how much you hate work?
The dominance of work in your conversations outside of work isn’t healthy and doesn’t give you much life balance, particularly when you already put up with it 40+ hours a week.
The constant irritability and negativity could potentially have consequences on your personal relationships with family and friends. Constant negativity will drive others away at a time when you probably need support more than ever.
Is a job you don’t care about really worth straining, or even losing, these relationships over?
4. Your physical health are starting to decline
Sustained high stress levels is increasingly linked to physical illness, and can manifest itself in ways including fatigue, nausea, digestive issues, disrupted sleep, increased susceptibility to colds and flus, heart palpitations, shallow laboured breath, muscle tension and pain, and headaches.
While you can alleviate the symptoms, these ailments will continue to plague you until you address the underlying cause.
It took three long years to resolve the gut issues I was suffering in my last role, and just a little longer to rehab my lower back without major surgery. My autoimmune disease still slows me down.
You can ignore the signals, but the stress of holding on will catch up with you.
Yes, holding onto retirement or that elusive redundancy is alluring. But you have a choice - is that payout worth your health and wellbeing ?
5. Uncharacteristic Overindulgence
Choose your vice - food, alcohol, drugs. Mine was shopping and wine, and I am the proud owner of many, many pairs of impractical designer 5 inch stilettos.
Be honest with yourself on whether you’re going overboard. And be honest about why you think you’re going overboard - is there an insatiable hole in your life that you’re trying to fill in the absence of a satisfying livelihood?
6. You’re in an unsupportive environment
Whether it’s constant conflict; poor communication between colleagues and/or managers; cultural or value differences; lack of clarity over your role and responsibilities; little job security; or a role that is mentally/emotionally demanding; an emotionally charged environment will take a toll on your mental wellbeing, as would an environment where you’re experiencing discrimination or bullying.
Being honest about whether work is starting to get you down or making you anxious means you can seek help sooner.
There is no shame in having a mental health condition such as anxiety and depression.
And it occurs across all industries: Deloitte found that 84 percent of employees’ experienced mental health issues due to work, and 48 percent said they would be uncomfortable talking to their employer about it.
A PwC report commissioned by the Australian Government found the financial and insurance sector had 33 per cent of people experiencing a mental health condition, with anxiety conditions are most prominent in the IT, media, financial and insurance industries.
While most workplaces have support structures in place, find help in the way that feels most comfortable for you - speaking from personal experience, it’s not a battle you need to fight alone. It’s bad enough to hate your life 40+ hours a week. It’s even worse when it starts to contaminate the rest of your life.
It is not normal to feel the Sunday night dreads all week long. It’s not normal to feel constantly overwhelmed. It’s not normal to feel your confidence decline.
Life is too short to wish your week away, becoming bitter and old before your time.
You have a unique and valuable contribution to offer the world.
Where you are now may not be the right place to let those skills shine … so go forth and find what makes your heart sing.