Over the course of the last two decades, polling organization, Gallup has been diligently measuring employee satisfaction rates all over the world. In their most recent survey for 2014, over 80,000 adults were surveyed, resulting in a staggering statistic: nearly 70% of American's hate their job.
To many, this statistic is no surprise, probably because they fall in the category of “not engaged” (i.e. the opposite of employees who love their job and are committed to it) themselves. With little involvement, commitment, and enthusiasm about their work or a notable relationship with their bosses based on respect, these employees find their love of their job waning. The days of treating your employment as “just a job” have long since passed, and employees have shouted from the rooftop that in order to love their jobs they need to find purpose, meaning, feel useful and use the skills they were given in a positive way.
Sounds like a fantasy, right?
Anyone older than the millennial generation (which has the lowest engagement rate out of all the groups surveyed) will tell you just to buck up and be grateful you have a job. And in this economy, it’s just plain smart to embrace the fact you have a legitimate way to pay the bills, not carelessly quit your job without having another lined up.
But what about when we recover economically, and you still feel your purpose isn't being fulfilled in your current job? Maybe you have a rich personal life and don’t need your job to meet your needs this way, but do you still want to spend the majority of time checked out, bored and feeling useless at work?
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela
A job is never just a job.
It’s a reflection of who you are- your values, inspiration, purpose and your legacy. It’s your footprint and your voice. It's the fulfillment of what you were created to be.
Now that we’ve waxed poetically, how do you get out of the job you’ve been stuck in, the one you can’t wait to escape, when it doesn’t seem there’s an alternative in the near future?
1. Look For Another Job
Yes, it's that simple. As someone who has spent several years in two particular jobs that I simply despised, I will tell you that I put off looking for a new job for far too long. I didn't know what I wanted, I was afraid that I wasn't qualified for anything else and didn’t want to get rejected, I hoped my current job would get better and the worst excuse: I wished a new job would just fall into my lap. Talk about a sense of entitlement!
Once I’d finally had enough, I started looking for a new job- any job at first. I told everyone outside my current workplace that I was looking for fresh employment, and if they knew of anything to let me know. I updated my resume and my LinkedIn account.
People end up in jobs they hate for YEARS, simply because they don’t take the time to look for a new one. Don’t let that be you.
2. Explore Your Passions
Gallup has determined that employees love their job the most when they feel that the work they do matters and that their opinions count. If you don’t know what you want to do, then you’re going to have a difficult time finding a job that meets your needs. Pick up “What Color Is Your Parachute,” (and oldie but a goodie) and take several personality assessments to help guide you (there are countless ones available online). Volunteer, apprentice, shadow. Get your feet wet in an industry so you know if you want to pursue it before quitting your job for one you may grow to dislike quickly. Stop the cycle of wasting your days in jobs you loathe.
3. Be Willing To Do Double Duty
Your dream job may come to you with vigor, but be lacking all the finer points for you to leave your old job in the dust. It could be part-time, may require more experience or not be enough money.
But it has potential.
If it’s something you’re willing to wager on, consider keeping your current job and working your dream job on the side. I worked two jobs for over a year, just to get my foot in the door and keep it there. I was able to establish myself by gaining experience (and a little extra income) and inevitably was offered full time employment and salvation from a job that I hated. You know what else happened? I didn't focus so much on the things I hated in my current job, because I was using my potential somewhere else. Suddenly, I had hope.
It wasn’t easy, and many days I wondered what business I had working two jobs. But I agree wholeheartedly with Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it.”
The job I love didn’t fall in to my lap: I earned it.
4. Set Realistic Expectations
Your dream job won’t always come with a retirement account and fabulous salary, at least not right away. Consider how much you hate your current job. Is having 2 weeks of vacation more important than working with a boss who is dishonest or disrespectful? Is the $2 less an hour better than feeling depressed, which impacts your quality of life?
One of the other contributing factors that Gallup determined was integral to employee engagement was the opportunity to grow and learn with the company. As long as these are options in your dream job, it may be ok to trade off the instant 401k account for a job that fulfills your passions in the near future.
5. Be Patient
The last year of one of my jobs was spent in misery. I was bitter, skeptical, caustic and unrelentingly critical. Nothing they did was right and I chose to focus on all of those things to further compound my reasoning for needing a new job. Needless to say, it wasn’t healthy.
There came a day when I’d had enough. I was tired of feeling so negative, only complaining to my husband about how horrible my job was (never just talking about normal, day to day things) and wondering why I just couldn’t get a new one that met all my needs. While I didn’t let go my concerns and desire for a new job, I decided that I needed to embrace a sense of gratitude that I had a job that paid for my car, electricity and groceries. I painstakingly scheduled out the next two months of meetings I dreaded, but was resigned to attending.
And I prayed. I prayed for patience and deliverance. I prayed for grace and mercy. And after a year of pulling double duty and merely weeks after changing my heart, I left my job of 3 years for my dream job.
6. Remember, This Is Just A Season
When you're in the throes of despising your disrespectful boss and meaningless, busy work, it's hard not to feel like your job is a life sentence. I can’t tell you how many times I prayed that “this time next year, I wouldn’t be dealing with this junk.” Or that “I won’t be here forever,” and “I’ll look back on this and be that much more grateful and appreciative of being able to do work I love. “
Like all difficult (and even good) times in our lives, they don’t last forever. You may need to force yourself to find the good aspects of your job until you find one you love. This season will one day end.
In closing, having a job is a privilege. But just because our unemployment offices are overflowing with people jobless, and our country has exponentially more opportunities than much of the world, doesn't mean you have to settle for a job that is anything less than your dream. It may take months and years to get there, but you're worth it.