Like millions of others, you’re not shy about telling everyone how much you hate your job. In fact, your friends and family are sick and tired of hearing about it. “Why don’t you just leave?” they ask.
But it’s not that easy.
You have lots of reasons for staying put: your salary is good, you like the commute and your pension scheme is secure. Most of all, you fear what may lie beyond. You’ve heard the horror stories and you know the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
You hate where you are, but for some reason, you can’t seem to leave. So, you’re stuck.
Somewhere deep inside, you know what’s really holding you back is fear: fear you won’t be able to get a better job, fear you’ll end up unemployed, fear you won’t have any money, fear you’ll let down your family and (the biggest fear of all) you’ll end up on the streets.
That’s a lot of fear.
So you do nothing because you’re afraid.
But the truth is, you’re choosing to keep what you have. Doing nothing is still a choice. You’re choosing what you have. But while you maintain the status quo, nothing’s going to change. And that means your situation won’t get any better. You’ll carry on hating your job and wanting to leave, but feeling too scared to try something new.
Underneath all this, there’s another huge fear that you’re ignoring. As Dr Wayne Dyer warns, you’ll “die with your music still in you”. You look into the future and you see yourself continuing to hold onto what you have and stay in this job you hate until you retire. Time will pass in a sea of misery and you’ll never discover the work you truly love to do.
Perhaps you’ll paper over the cracks by taking fabulous holidays or buying beautiful shoes or getting a bigger house and a faster car, but the misery will seep out and take the joy out of all everything. In the end, nothing will compensate you for the purgatory that is your working life.
You don’t want to live like that … do you?
You know there must be a solution because you see others moving onwards, making changes, taking risks and being happy.
So what’s the solution? How do you overcome the fear and get out there and live a fuller, more meaningful and more satisfying life?
Listen to a different message
First of all, it’s important you know there’s another way to look at yourself and your situation. It may not always be easy to change how you look at the world, but if you learn how, you’ll be released from your inertia and inaction.
You see, we all have an inner voice that we use to speak to ourselves. In fact, we have two: one is negative (our inner critic) and the other is positive (our inner coach). The problem is that our inner critic is more developed than our coach. So, we end up listening to it more often.
The very simple truth is that if you want change in your life, you need to stop listening to your inner critic. That’s because your behaviour starts with your thoughts: if you think negatively, you’ll behave negatively.
Result: no new job and nothing changes.
However, if you think positive thoughts like “If I leave, I’ll get a job that suits me much better and I’ll feel fulfilled and enjoy my work”, you’ll experience positive emotions such as inspiration and motivation. When you’re in that state of mind, you’re far more likely to start the process of looking for another job.
Result: new job and positive change.
As you can tell, hearing your positive voice is going to produce better results than listening to your negative voice.
But there’s another block you’re completely unaware of and it can keep you stuck more than anything else: your beliefs.
Beware of your beliefs
We’ve been brought up to ‘be careful’, ‘play nicely’ and not take too many risks. We’re taught from an early age that failure is very bad. That means we’re programmed to avoid failure. So you create a belief that change is risky and can lead to failure.
If you don’t recognise or challenge that belief, it’ll be very hard to change anything in your life, even the most mundane things. These limiting beliefs can be difficult to spot yourself. Others will probably recognise them first.
Recognise that your inner critic is running the show and that it regularly recounts your limiting beliefs as a way of keeping you “safe”. So the next time you hear your inner critic telling you a horror story about the risks of leaving your job, thank it for its input. Then ask yourself what you would do differently if you believed you could get a new and far better job quickly and easily.
Not only will this highlight that you’re acting from a limiting belief, it will also help you see it for what it is and challenge it.
Listening to your fears, doubts and limiting beliefs is something you may not have noticed yourself doing before. So it may come as a shock that you’ve become so prone to negative thinking without realising it. But as soon as you recognise the power of your thoughts, you’ll start making significant changes to the way you feel and behave.
Just beware that your old place of fear and inertia may be restrictive, but still holds an allure that’s hard to resist because it’s familiar and it’s safe.
And that spells one thing: danger.
Get out of your rut
Escaping your rut or safe place is not easy. It takes a lot of effort to resist the comfort that safety gives you so you can reach beyond your haven to something better and different. But if you don’t get out of your rut, you’ll never create anything new for yourself.
One way to get out of your rut is to focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want and what you hate. Rather than using your energy to hate your job, build a picture of what you’d like instead. Maybe your boss is a micro-manager and it drives you mad, so the alternative would be a manager who gives you free reign to take on projects and do them your way.
At first, you may find it difficult to form a picture of what you want. Maybe you simply don’t know. If that’s the case, take notice of what you envy. If you find yourself thinking, “that looks good, I wish I could do that/work like that/work there” it gives you a clue as to what you want.
Now that you’re aware that fear is probably driving your behaviour, you can begin to unravel the fearful thinking that’s been holding you back.
After all, who said the next job would be worse than this one? How do you know whether you’ll lose or gain from it? Life is an adventure and it’s risky. What’s more, even holding on to what looks safe might not be, after all. Who’s to say what will happen in the future?
Of course, fear never goes away because it’s normal. It will always be there whenever you do something new that requires you to step into the unknown.
Embrace fear so you can discover excitement
When you strip back the fears around leaving a job you hate, you can consider a wide range of options now open to you.
- Perhaps working as a contractor would be better for you and offer you more variety.
- Maybe you’ve always wanted to start your own business.
- It could be that there is work you’ve always wanted to do but have previously dismissed because you don’t believe you’ll earn enough or have enough job security.
Once you rub away the patina of fear, you will start to see new possibilities and opportunities. That’s when you’ll get excited at your potential and all the possibilities now available to you. The fear will transform into excitement, empowerment and inspiration.
When those emotions take over, you’ll find making changes easier.
The invisible internal obstacles you face can be hard to overcome on your own. Once you consider making a change in your job or career, be sure to seek out professional help. Not only will you get the support you need to keep moving forward, you’ll also get valuable information that will help you make better choices for your next role.
Personality tests, career questions and coaching can all help shift you out of your miserable rut into something better. Having support will direct your thinking and action so you know why you’re doing what you’re doing. That’ll help get rid of the sense of being in a whirl where you’re doing things with no real purpose.
Expert coaching can help you identify the negative thinking that’s been holding you back. Once someone shines a light on this, you’ll have a new awareness that will enable you to replace those negative thoughts with positive ones.
Coaching can also be practical. It can help you discover the work you truly want to do, research the market, rewrite your CV and identify the organisations and roles for you. Equally, if being employed in the traditional sense is no longer working for you, building a career based on contracts or even starting a business could be options worth exploring. You might even decide to work abroad, take time off to travel or decide to invest in training or education.
Discovering what you love
There’s something empowering in discovering work you love to do. It gives you a solid foundation on which to build an exciting and rewarding career. It also helps you handle difficult times at work and make the most of transitions, challenges and opportunities.
If you’re struggling to feel any love for your current role, begin by noticing the tasks you enjoy. What do you like about them and what can they tell you about how you like to work and who you like to work with. Do you love working in small dynamic teams or on your own? Do you like responsibility or prefer to be given problems to solve quietly?
Look at your colleagues and suppliers: do you like who you’re currently working with and do you enjoy working with them?
Do you like your working hours and days? Is the location of your job good for you or could it be much better?
And finally, how do you relate to the company and the division you work for? Is the company and its mission totally in line with your own? Are your values being honoured or are you constantly being asked to implement decisions that feel unethical to you?
The answers to these questions will help you build a picture of what you want from your work. And if you don’t get any positive answers, it’s worth looking at what you used to enjoy and at what you enjoy outside of work. Could your hobby be a clue to the work you want to do? When you ask that question, what positive or negative ideas do you notice?
As you become more familiar with your beliefs, thoughts and preferences, you’ll slowly unravel the ropes that bind you to a job that leaves you feeling depleted and demoralised. Change will begin to feel inevitable, organic and exciting. The shifts may be small and inconsistent, but they’ll ultimately liberate your from your comfort zone and life-enhancing change.
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