There are a plenty of reasons that your job can objectively suck:
- Compensation is headed in the wrong direction.
- Your career options are becoming more limited.
- Your workplace feels like a war zone or mental hospital.
You’d be smart for citing any of those as reasons for leaving; however, there are a number of self-deceptions we all suffer from that should lead you to question your motives before jumping ship:
1. Wherever You Go, There You Are
This, the title of one of my favorite books on meditation, captures a trap many of us find ourselves in.
Blaming our jobs for feeling crappy every day, we forget that our jobs often aren’t the cause of our drama; we are.
You can never see your own blind spots. By definition, they are invisible to you. Thus, we often find ourselves blaming our jobs for things that originate within ourselves.
A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with an acquaintance who wanted to bend my ear on all the reasons that he hates his job and why he has no choice but to look for a new one.
After about 5 minutes, it became clear to him that, while he was right to consider a career move, the real reason he wasn’t feeling fulfilled at work was himself.
As he put it, “I used to be the optimistic one, even at the toughest of times people would look to me for a positive spin, but I’ve lost that; I need to start by getting that back again.”
That was his blind spot. And changing jobs wasn’t going to change anything, especially not a crappy attitude.
Solution: Get Perspective
The reason I’ve named this first point after the title of a book on meditation is because meditation, or mindfulness, is one of few ways for humans to get a completely new perspective on our thinking.
Of course, there are other ways. Talking to friends and family can be hard as they tend to reinforce where we are today rather than help us with a new path forward. But other than working with a professional advisor, they may be your best bet.
Beyond this, crack open books and evolve your thinking and yourself beyond what it is in the present moment. Understand where your mindset is in the present before making any commitments about the future.
2. You’ve Got Yourself Stuck
Even though we all have plenty of career options (yes, even you), it’s common to feel trapped, like you’re out of moves.
We’ve all seen this self-deception in one form or another. For most people it’s unconscious, lurking under the surface of conscious thought, and infecting the way they think:
- “It’s just how it is.”
- “There’s nothing else I really want to do.”
- “I just don’t know what steps to take.”
Here’s the thing, we can tell ourselves self-defeating narratives that keep us feeling trapped, or we can tell ourselves new stories and break through the old ways of being.
Solution: Question Your Assumptions
In the same way that we don’t notice the oxygen we are constantly breathing, questioning our own thinking can be hard. But, it gets easier through practice. For instance:
- “It’s just how it is.” Isn’t it how you made it to be, or let it become? What else could it be?
- “There’s nothing else I really want to do.” Nothing at all? Suppose you were fired today and were forced to start fresh, what would you choose to do then?
- “I just don’t know what steps to take.” What’s the absolute smallest step you could actionably take tomorrow to improve your current situation? What’s the next smallest step you could take after that?
So you see, by asking new questions and challenging old assumptions, you can of course, reach new answers.
3. You Believe In Your Fears
There’s a difference between having fears and believing in those fears. You can post a million status updates on being fearless, but people who are fearless are too busy blasting through fears than telling others about it.
Our fear of being rejected for that new job we truly want often leads us to say: “You know, this job isn’t that bad.”
Our fear of failure leads us to say: “I’m better off just staying where I am than taking a risk on a new job.”
Our fear of embarrassment leads us to say: “I’m better off being a silent observer in today’s meeting than risk sounding ignorant when trying to provide value to my colleagues…”
Whether we pin our fears on the wall or hide them somewhere up our sleeves, few of us are beyond allowing the most basic fears to hold us back, fearless status updates or not!
Solution: Feel The Fear and Do It Anyways
Another title taken from one of my favorite books. This one says it all. Just do those things you fear. This is simple, but of course, it can be incredibly difficult. Yet like any skill, the more you practice, the better you’ll become.
First, you have to admit that you are afraid of something. This takes honest self-reflection and assessment, both of which can be painful.
Then, you have to figure out what action you can take today that will confront that fear head-on.
Skydiving, approaching a stranger, asking for a raise, karaoke, whatever. Just do it.
Because once you’ve admitted your fears to yourself, and taken action in their face, they no longer control you. It’s at this point you’ll become free of the self-deceptions that once held you back and start seeing things in a clearer light.
And if you still want to quit your job after all of that, then by all means, what are you waiting for?