Before I became a life coach, I spent more than a decade in a job I despised. Now, I help people find ways to enjoy their work or to find the courage to bail on jobs that deserve to be hated.
If you're not sure about your job, here are 15 signs that it might be time to pull the eject handle:
1. You spend most of Sunday dreading Monday.
2. You need caffeine, alcohol, or other drugs to get up for work, to come down from work, or to avoid thinking about work.
3. You frequently feel tired, achy, or run down, but you rarely take a sick day.
4. Your spouse hates your work phone.
5. Your bosses, your co-workers, or your clients are abusive.
6. You're often anxious or short-tempered at work.
7. You can't seem to remember what you used to do for fun.
8. You spend at least an hour complaining about work every night.
9. You feel exhausted during work but you can't sleep at night.
10. Your values and your employer's values don't line up.
11. You no longer have the energy to do the things you love.
12. Your work environment is toxic.
13. You think about work constantly…even when you are on vacation.
14. Your strengths and talents are not appreciated.
15. You have so much built-up resentment and anger that even if every one of your work wishes was granted, you still wouldn't want to stay.
If none of that sounds familiar, congratulations! You can stop reading and get back to your super-awesome job. But let's face it…if you're still reading this, it's probably best that you think about making a change.
Before you flip over your desk, consider making an escape plan…
In the Short Term
Do some triage:
How bad is your current work situation? Do you need to quit, like, yesterday? Or can you stick it out a while longer? If your work environment is toxic, abusive, or puts your health at risk, don't hesitate. Consider a lateral move or even something at a lower pay grade. Your health and sanity are worth more than a slight drop in salary or prestige.
No, I don't mean just suck it up and soldier on. I mean, carve out some quiet time every day to soothe your mind and body. Implementing a regular meditation practice can quickly take your tension level from RED ALERT to recharged. There are a ton of great guided meditations available for free online. Find one you like, sit your butt down, and listen. Every day. This is one of my favorites from Tara Brach.
Be kind to yourself:
A soul-sucking job can be really hard on your health, so make you your highest priority right now. Cut back on the caffeine. Get outside at lunch. Make sure you are leaving work on time. Skip your nightly glass of wine, and take a bath to unwind instead. And since having deep, REM sleep is one of the best ways to clear stress hormones, like cortisol, from your body, commit to getting at least eight hours of rest every night.
In the Medium Term
Don't quit without a plan:
If your job sucks but is tolerable, then set aside the next three to twelve months for getting your ducks in a row so you can make a change that really works for you. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, says, "Jump and the net will appear." But it's important to be wise as well—the best time to look for a job is when you already have one.
If you don't have the time, energy, or resources to change jobs right now, consider negotiating for reduced hours. How amazing would it feel to leave at 3 o'clock every day? Or what if you could have Wednesdays off? Even just four hours a week could take you from burnt-out to balanced—plus, it's time you could use to schedule interviews.
Start talking to people:
Let friends and family know you are looking for something new—you never know who they might know. And don't just casually mention it in passing. Tell them exactly what you're looking for and why, and be passionate. Explain what you've got to offer and describe the type of work you'd love to do next.
In the Long Term
If you are going to make this change, be brave. When a job becomes intolerable, it's a huge opportunity to shake things up. Give yourself permission to lean into your dreams. Don't just slide into the same situation with a different company. Take this time to really think about how you want your life to feel. Always dreamed of living near the ocean? Time to see who's hiring in Hawaii! It only seems impossible until you make it happen.
Get help when you need it:
No clue what your next move should be? Hire a good life coach. Trying to figure this stuff out alone can feel like visiting the monkey house at the zoo. When you've been in a crappy situation for a long time, everything smells like sh!t. A fresh, outside perspective can help you sort your dreams out of the dung heap.