Millennials are known for hopping from one job or company to another, while baby boomers and the older generation were known to start and retire in a single company. Have you ever considered the side effects both, mental and financial of staying at a job that you hate for too long?
Job-hopping is now considered the “new normal,” with over 40% of millennials choosing to stick with their employer for 2 years or less, then move on. That has definitely been my experience as a millennial in the workforce, having held 4 different full-time jobs within the last 10 years.
A Gallup survey in 2015 showed that over 70% of American workers are not engaged at work, and those who were not engaged resented and hated coming to work.
More often than not, they leave because they feel undervalued, underpaid or aren’t offered any opportunities to move up in the company. But even still, most of them will stick it out longer than is probably mentally healthy for fear of being cast into that typical Millennial stereotype.
I can tell you from experience that sticking with your emotionally abusive employer is literally the worst thing you can do for your family, mental peace, finances and career.
How a job you hate impacts Mental Health
When you get a new job, it’s exciting and new, and you want to put your best foot forward. You’ve got a clean slate and an opportunity to prove to your boss and peers that you were hired for a reason and won’t let them down.
So, you hustle like crazy for the first few months until your probationary period is over. Besides finally getting access to your work benefits, you may even receive a little bonus to kick-off being a permanent employee. Life is good.
Then a year goes by. You pass your annual review with flying colours, and in your head this signals that a raise or promotion (or both) aren’t too far behind, so you keep on doing your best work, coming in early, leaving late, and always taking on extra responsibilities with a smile.
Then another year passes by and you wonder “Where’s that raise and/or promotion?” Maybe you’re just being impatient. Or maybe you’re not working hard enough. So you hustle even harder to finally get noticed.
Down and down
You’re almost at your third work anniversary now and feel like a train losing steam. You’ve given this job all you’ve got, but you’re still being treated the same as co-workers who put in half the effort as you.
Naturally, you start to psychoanalyze every little thing to death. Maybe you actually weren’t working hard enough. Maybe you’re actually not as good at your job as you thought you were. Maybe your boss hates you and you never picked up on it. Maybe it’s not the company or your boss that’s mistreating you, maybe it’s you and you deserve it!
You start paying less attention to your work. You start calling in sick more. You start taking longer lunches. You start fading into the background because if they don’t care, neither do you.
But you also can’t stop thinking about it. You have stress dreams about work. You start getting anxious Sunday night just thinking about another week at the office. You use every ounce of energy you have to not quit every Friday because you don’t have a backup plan. But you’re exhausted, depressed and feel completely worthless. What started as “Life is good!” has somehow become “What is my life?”
Does this work situation sound familiar?
If you’ve ever stuck it out at a job too long, then this should be a familiar situation for you. When you give a job your best effort and receive nothing in return, it affects your mental health. It just does. It makes you question your value, your work ethic, and can lead to anxiety, depression, and even physical illness.
And what happens when you’ve got anxiety, depression or feel physically ill all the time? You start emotionally spending. You want to buy something that’ll make you feel better, even for just a little while. So, you spend your money based on how you feel instead of what’s logical and smart, draining your bank account and racking up debt on your credit card.
If that isn’t hard enough on your finances, it could also cost you money in medical bills, therapy sessions, float tanks, meditation retreats, or anything else you need to throw money at to get back to the old you who was so full of hope and hustle at the start.
Workplace Stress Could Mean You Getting Burnt Out
Another outcome of working for a company that doesn’t build you up, but instead takes everything it can from you, is burnout. Nod your head “Yes” if you’ve experienced work burnout or workplace stress.
I certainly have. On multiple occasions. But the thing with work burnout is it’s so subtle. It creeps up on you without you even noticing, until one day you find yourself lying face down on your living room floor unable to move due to complete exhaustion.
It’s a terrible feeling to be burnt out. That feeling of not having anymore energy to keep going or to steer yourself in another direction. You no longer have the desire to go to networking events, reach out to your contacts about job leads, or apply to new positions, because your mind has lost all motivation.
Even worse, when you’re searching for a job while burnt out, you’ll take whatever job that comes your way. Not necessarily one that’s a better fit, or has a better salary, or has a better work environment. You’ll just take anything that’s not your current job.
And what’s the point in that? The point of leaving was to go someplace better, not just same same but different!
So if you’re starting to feel tired all the time, always feeling negative and grumpy at work, and maybe even a bit snippy when someone asks you to do something, acknowledge that you might be getting burnt out and do something about it…now!
What to do when you hate your job
At the start of this post, I mentioned how a big reason why millennials feel like they ought to stay with a job they hate is because they’re afraid it could negatively impact them in the future.
GTFO of your Current Job
If you’re hating your job right now, GTFO! Take a risk, update your cover letter, start searching for new positions in your field, start putting feelers out to your network, and get excited about making a big, positive change in your life.
Trust your skills, Invest in yourself
Keep investing in yourself. At the end of the day, when you’re interviewing for a new job, they’re more interested in if you can actually do the job instead of if you stayed at your last workplace for 1 year or 2 years. If you’ve got the skills and confidence to back it up, you’ll outshine anyone who doesn’t have the same skills or confidence but stayed at their last job for 5 years.
Don’t stick around for friends and co-workers
If one of the reasons for you to stay in a menial job you so hate is because you have great co-workers and friends there, then don’t! You can always continue your friendship later on. You guys will be able to catch up for a beer as often as you please and plan vacations the way you want it.
Learn from your past mistakes
If you are one of those who got stuck in a career you hate, then left it much later than you should have, it is fine. Evaluate and see why you stuck around. Ensure you do not repeat the same mistakes once again.
Remember, employers need you just as much as you need them. Perhaps even more. Don’t settle for less.
Things to keep in mind before a Career change
While you should not be stuck in a career you don’t like, nor should your resume show 5 job changes in 2 years. This could be extremely detrimental to your career. Future employers will be concerned on if it is worth their while to hire and train you.
Here are a few things you can do to avoid getting into a job you may not like in the first place
- Research on the job at length. Check out the company culture, read reviews about them, see if you would be able to maintain a work life balance
- Speak with current staff and ex-staff of the employer you are planning to join
- Have a career plan in mind. Visualize if you can do the work you are being hired for. If it is not your cup of tea and money is the main motivation behind taking up the job, you may hate it later on
- Before taking up the job, question the money you are getting for the time you are required to invest in the job. If you are underpaid, chances are you will lose motivation sometime soon
- Cover your bases before taking the plunge and quitting. Ensure you have enough emergency funds for the next few months before you get a new job. Think through other benefits you will lose such as, health insurance etc when you leave your current employer.
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