The following guest post is from Steven of HundredGoals.com. After reading the post, be sure to visit Steven’s site to follow the journey towards accomplishing his list of one hundred goals!
Many of us work at jobs where there is no opportunity for advancement. If there is opportunity for upward mobility, the positions available may require advanced education, experience which we do not have or maybe we don’t have enough seniority. It may also be that advancement into another position may bring even less satisfaction to an already miserable work experience. Whatever the reason, working at a dead end job stinks.
When you first began working for your company maybe you, like I, had stars in your eyes with dreams of advancement to the top ranks. In no time you would be the one calling the shots, making the decisions, running the show. Your work ethic was unmatched and you made every effort to go above and beyond at every opportunity in order to stand out above the crowd. You took on special assignments, working late & on weekends. You did your best to rub elbows with the big dogs without coming off as an ass-kisser.
Photo by Sea Moon
As time kept marching on you began to realize that despite everything you have ever been told about career advancement, you are making absolutely no progress. Maybe you got a small promotion & an insignificant pay raise, but it hasn’t been the ride to the top you thought it was going to be. You find yourself not caring so much about your performance. It seems pointless to work so hard when everyone else is performing at a level much less than you yet receiving the same treatment. No longer are you willing to sacrifice your free time for this company. No more overtime, no more special projects. Soon you slip into the shadows & become just another employee; a number on the payroll roster.
As the morning sun slips through your curtains & the chirping of the songbirds wakes you from your peaceful slumber you are in no mood for birds or sunbeams. Instead you want coffee & cigarettes, anything to take your mind away from the fact that it won’t be much longer before you are on your way to punch the clock at the daily Hell called work. On your way you drive alongside hundreds, even thousands, of people just like you; eating a McMuffin, sipping coffee and smoking a cigarette. Everyone is on their way to work.
Walking across the parking lot you are greeted with the same pleasantries as the day before. The same conversations with the same people, day in and day out, over and over again. Your mind is numb. The people you once found interesting, whose stories you once hung on every word, are now dull and boring. You turn your mouth on autopilot. “Morning Jim. Beautiful day. How about the Dodgers, can you believe that?” Deep inside of yourself you don’t really care what these people are talking about but you banter back and forth just to make it through another day.
As you lay down for the night, your head sinking into the cool comfort of your pillow, you ask yourself “Is this what work is supposed to be? What happened? I am not happy. Isn’t there another way? Shouldn’t I be doing something that gives me satisfaction and purpose?”
Some may think that it is naive to think everyone in the world can work in a job or career they love. Maybe they are right. There are those people out there who will settle for less than they deserve for a variety of reasons; security, money, insurance, education, even respect. Yes, even people who work in highly respected positions are miserable too. Staying in a position in order to maintain respect, or any reason, is ridiculous. We should be seeking satisfaction in every way possible, including our careers.
Your happiness is no one’s responsibility but your own. If you are unhappy in your job or career, it isn’t up to someone else to bring you satisfaction. It is up to you. Quitting a job isn’t something to take lightly and in today’s job market leaving a job, even one you hate, is a risky decision. In order to quit your job & move smoothly towards other opportunities, keep these points in mind during the transition.
Job Security- If you are staying at a job you hate simply because you feel secure, you are being foolish. As far too many people have discovered the hard way, there is no such thing as job security. Take off the rose colored glasses. At any moment your company could become bankrupt, your job could be outsourced or eliminated entirely. Life is too short to be unhappy, even for a seemingly valid reason such as “security”.
Debt Elimination- One of the most important aspects of personal finance, not just quitting a job, is to get out of debt. Having debt chains us to our job. We must work in order to pay others. Our money does not belong to us. You may think you earn $15 an hour, but really, isn’t most of it going to Visa? They’re the ones making all of the money & you’re doing all of the work for them.
Paying down debt can be a long process. Depending on your debt load, it could take years before you are debt-free. Figure out a plan to pay down your debt, and stick with it. Once you have a plan written down on paper it is easier to meet your goals, especially if it is broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Don’t look at your debt as one big mountain to move. Instead, try to see it is a bunch of spoonfuls of dirt which are easier to move, bit by bit.
Job Search- Maintaining a job while actively seeking other opportunities provides you with the benefit of time. You can search for the perfect position without feeling pressured into taking a job that isn’t right for you. If you are seeking other avenues of opportunity, maybe self-employment, having gainful employment while making the transition into running your own business takes some of the financial stress away. You will continue earning a wage while your business is young and maturing. Once you have established yourself & the money coming in is enough to support you without needing your “real” job, you can quit safely.
Education- One way to find more meaningful work or work that is more suitable for your ambitions is to further your education. Whether you have a degree or haven’t graduated high school, you can always benefit from learning something new. Take classes in things that interest you. If there is an area that needs brushing up, say your language or writing mechanics, take some courses on these topics. Many universities offer evening courses which will mesh well with your work schedule.
Returning to school on a full-time basis may also be something to consider. Returning to school can be costly & requires devotion to your studies, so be prepared. Have your finances in order and do your homework to figure out what the cost will be and whether you can afford to make the transition from work back into school. A part-time job can help ease your financial situation and may even lead to other opportunities. Try finding something through the University which is in your area of study in order to gain valuable experience. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to find a job in your field with no practical experience.
Networking- Networking these days is over-rated. It isn’t all that it is cracked up to be but a few great connections can prove to be a valuable asset further down the road. Don’t just collect phone numbers, really connect with people and form relationships that have substance and meaning. There should be give and take within these relationships, don’t just look at these people as a way to get something you want. If you stick to the standard of collecting cards, you will see why social networking doesn’t work.
The road to your future is paved with the decisions you make today. Tomorrow is a choice you make. Only you have the ability to determine the path your life follows. Taking the risk of quitting a job is a risk many are unwilling to take, no matter how unhappy they are with their jobs. There could be nothing else in this world that we hate more than to have to walk through the Gates of Hell on our way to our desk, our drill press, our counter, our register, our dump truck, yet we still repeat the process each day.
Breaking the cycle is hard. It is scary. It is a process that requires thought and preparation, but at the end of the day, isn’t our happiness far more important than a paycheck?