Have you ever wondered if there was more to life than going through the same motions of uninspiring job day in, day out? I certainly have. In fact, every time I feel demotivated or frustrated with my job, I have the habit of checking the employment market to see if anything exciting was going on outside of my tiny little world. I also tend to google articles and blog posts about career change, finding a meaningful job which could give me a full satisfaction and make me feel useful.It turns out that I am not alone in this universe who turns to internet to find answers when they are not happy with their careers. If there is one thing I do not believe when it comes to employment and career, it is that there is no such thing as job for life, nor should there be.I think this old school concept of getting into a permanent job and stick to it until your life ends and you are covered with mould in a dusty office buried with million stacks of files and papers is so 19th, 20th century. We have one life, and we all want to make it count and use it for meaningful things which are important to us. Then how come we find ourselves in menial jobs, uninspiring bosses and endless dread and burnouts?! The answer is five-fold:
I put this first, because let’s be honest, we do what we do not only because it is what we are trained for and passionate about, but also mainly because it is our livelihood, bread and butter, our token for a good life. Money may not buy us happiness (well at least not always) but it can certainly buy us some peace, time and commodities which can distract our brains and make them release temporary happy hormones. That is almost as good as true happiness right…?! But seriously, when your bills are paid and you have a roof over your head, it does bring us some peace and security, in the end of the day Maslows’s hierarchy of needs will always rule, our basic needs are the touchstone of our wellbeing and quality of life. And it all depends on money in this capitalistic world. We all know it too well, that’s why it makes it hard for us to leave everything and walk out of unsatisfying, mentally draining jobs not knowing how you will be paying your next bills.
Do you remember Brooks Hatlen from Shawshank Redemption, an inmate who commits suicide shortly after he is released from prison? Red says that Brooks has been in prison for so long that he has become institutionalised. So, what could this possibly mean?! We humans are creatures of habits. It is because our brains function in a way to find easy ways of finding solutions and establish routines and certain level of discipline, so the brain doesn’t have to use so much energy to do everyday activities. In other words, the brain works very hard and burns a lot of energy in a new environment, say when you move to a new city or country. It has to concentrate harder to do the risk assessment, and focus on keeping us alive by finding food, water, and a place where we can be safe to sleep to recuperate our bodies. Once these survival things are established, then it becomes a habit for us where to get our food and how to get home safely, which transport to take and which road to walk to. It all becomes very much mechanical, and anything which might knock this routine out of balance is perceived by our brains as a threat to our safety. In a workplace, it is exactly the same, we get used to the tasks, daily patterns, even uninspiring tasks, and tyrannic bosses can be tolerated as opposed to what could be waiting or not waiting for us outside of this cosy, familiar, at times super uncomfortable comfort zone. Even if it keeps us imprisoned, kills our creativity and exploration of our other potential, the freedom can be so scary. So, the brain takes it as a risk and starts producing long list of things ‘why’ we cannot do it, why we cannot or should not take the risk.
Loss of Confidence
Unfortunately, the downside effect from the above reason is losing confidence. Especially if you worked in ‘mechanical zone’ for a long time, if your work has stopped challenging you and you haven’t grown in your thinking, creating and achieving, your confidence starts faltering. You lose track of what is happening outside of your world, what the new and progressive technologies are, what the recruiters’ expectations are, etc. In fact, the underlining and real reason of all the excuses we tell ourselves to leave the unhappy and miserable jobs is fear. Fear that we are not good enough, and we will fail, because we do not deserve better situation than we are already in. Once you know how to face your fear, it all falls into right perspective. With little planning, research and updating your skills, joining the right network groups, you can find your inspiration again. And once you find your inspiration, you can find the will and inner strength to face the unknown. Because you will have a good plan which will work for you, which can also include a buffer, a safety cushion even if you fail it a little bit in the beginning.
You can’t afford being unemployed for any period of time because of financial/family commitment
This reason is quite complex, yes, it is harder to get up and go when you have a family and large household expenses. You would need to consult with your other half who may not be very thrilled at the prospect of loss of income, or maybe a new job might require a relocation. I work in a sector where the essence of the work demands rotation and relocation all the time. I know first-hand that it can shake the best of us. Single people struggle to find partners with their constant moving, families suffer, because partners can get fed up with following their other halves around the world while de-prioritising their careers, social circles, friends and other interests, or waiting for their spouses from R&R to R&R, the children are affected through this unstable uprooted lifestyle and families fall apart. So how do you deal with such situations?It is all about choices and finding out what is really important for you personally and for your family. See in a broader picture where your future is heading to, whether your partner is on board fully and enthusiastically, or are they just at their wits end with this dead-end situation. The change does not happen easily, it is uncomfortable, scary and at times emotionally taxing. In this life where we pay for things with time, money, or health, whatever you choose you are paying for your choice with one of these resources. So, it better be a good choice which is fulfilling and make you feel content.
Yes, this is inevitable, with rapid evolution of technology and internet, things are changing with the speed of light. It’s not like in previous centuries that if you get a good education and learn few skills, then you are set for life in employment. These days things are changing fast, the organisations and businesses which can’t adopt with the same speed, are losing their supporters, profit and public confidence. I’m a strong believer of life-long learning. Although I do struggle with catching up with all the “cool” and modern technologies with limited available time, I do my best to attend courses and trainings to see what is happening outside of my work bubble.I heard the frustration of stuck colleagues all over the world where I worked so many times and their internal issues are quite similar. They don’t know what is happening outside of our work sector, they are too scared and don’t have much faith that they are employable elsewhere. Some of them don’t even have CVs. Not knowing how to change their situation, they keep going through the same patterns, letting their well being and mental health decline in the process, families and personal lives are affected.