I have noticed an alarming trend recently when talking to people about what they do for a living. I would venture to say that four out of five people do not like what they do. Worse than that, three out five say they actually hate their job. I suppose it isn’t really a surprise. These numbers tend to support recent national studies which show similar survey results.
In today’s economy, I certainly understand why people remain in jobs that make them unhappy. Changing jobs is no easy feat. In fact, it is right up there on the world’s biggest stressors list. Sometimes it seems like staying where you are and putting up with a lousy situation just might be the path of least resistance. At least in a current position, you know the terrain and have an idea of what you can expect.
It can be even more difficult to consider a job or career change if you are a boomer nearing retirement. Friends often tell me they are just trying to hang in three or four more years until retirement. They may not like their job, but it will all be worth it once they collect the gold watch and can access that well-padded 401K. Once they retire it will be smooth sailing from there on out.
There is only one small problem with that scenario. When you chose to stay in any situation that causes you unhappiness, whether it is a job or a relationship, you place an exceeding amount of unnecessary stress on the body. Living with chronic stress has a significant negative impact on health, and adversely affects longevity. In other words, if you remain in a chronic high stress work environment you can be taking years off your life.
I understand why people choose to ride out an unhappy or unsatisfying career. We all have responsibilities and obligations, especially with mortgages, car loans, or college tuitions. Let’s face it–older you get and the more you acquire, the harder it is to imagine a simpler lifestyle. But one thing is certain, all of the things we spend so much time collecting aren’t going to matter much if we aren’t around to enjoy them.
So what can you do if you happen to be one of the eighty percent that are unhappy with their job? The obvious answer is to make a change. It can be a big one, such as moving into a completely new field. Or it can consist of making smaller changes within your current framework. Could you change departments? Could you delegate portions of your duties that cause the most stress? If colleagues or co-workers are the biggest problem, are there other ways you might deal with them?
If you dread going to work each morning, you might want to take a serious look at what you are receiving for trading away a good portion of your life. As an example, if you are a sixty-two year old male waiting to retire at sixty-five, you are essentially giving away about fourteen percent of your expected remaining years. Is there a way you could simplify your needs so you could keep those years and get more out of the life you have worked to create?
Ultimately, it comes down to priorities. We all decide what is important. Oftentimes we set those priorities early in life, and don’t take much time to reexamine them as we go along. It might be worth pulling those priorities off the shelf and taking a look at them. Do they still serve you or have your circumstances and needs changed as the years have passed?
Being unhappy in your job is a miserable situation. The good news is that options are available. It may require some changes in perspective and priority, but change is always possible. And if you find yourself nearing retirement and counting the days, you might want to consider what those days are really worth to you.
If you are thinking about making a change, but aren’t quite sure how to start, contact me for a free consultation to get you moving in the right direction.