“When the joy of the job’s gone, when there’s no fun trying anymore, quit before you’re fired.” – Michael Forbes.
People spend more time dealing with their work than anything else. It seems a sad reality that family and friends often have to take a back seat as we fit our lives around work. The average company requires its employee to put in an 8 hour day, 5 days a week – plus the pesky overtime (paid or unpaid) – if you add this up, it starts to sound a little overwhelming. Did you know that the average office worker will commit to around 200,000 hours of his or her life to work? That’s the equivalent of 8333 days, or nearly 23 years – without even a toilet break.
If you are spending so much of your life at work, doesn’t it seem to make sense that you should enjoy it? If your work doesn’t bring you joy, if it is killing you slowly, is it time to think about quitting?
The problem is that we get so immersed in our work, that we find it difficult to take a view from a fresh perspective. The stress and boredom become the norm and fail to register with us. Here we’re providing a handy checklist to help you see if you really should be spending the 200,000 hours of your life doing something else completely different.
Lack of motivation
You’ve had several hits of caffeine and you’re walking like a zombie to the office? Are you paying less and less attention in the boardroom? Well, if this sounds familiar, it’s probably a warning that you’re ‘just not into it’ any more (assuming you ever were). Motivation is key to getting recognised in any workplace, and hence being successful. Being unmotivated will get noticed as you appear impatient to get out of meetings, you fail to contribute to brainstorming or discussions, or you procrastinate over your workload. All of these will affect you KPI – and not in a good way. It seems that lack of motivation is a significant sign that it’s time to start exploring your feelings towards your career. It might just be burnout, but you need to be honest with yourself.
The mind works in mysterious ways and sometimes we might not identify the reason we can’t get a good night’s sleep, or why we keep losing our temper. Psychologists say that it’s common for people to fail to identify the causes of their stress.
To help you identify if you are suffering from work-related stress, it’s useful to understand the types of stress that humans face; physical, and emotional, and that they can happen more easily than you might think. Sitting on an uncomfortable chair or being subjected to an annoying noise can cause you physical stress, whereas arguing with coworkers can cause emotional stress. Both of these can lead to behavioural responses to stress – the sleep issues and the nasty temper tantrums being the most obvious. If left unchecked, these behavioural responses become chronic, which can manifest themselves as depression. Take some time to assess how you’re feeling, both physically and emotionally, and try to make a connection between these and your behaviour. If you see any warning signs, it might be wise to rethink your priorities and consider making changes.
Being undervalued in the workplace feels terrible. It might come from your role not being recognised, or your ideas going unheard by your coworkers or boss. Let’s be clear, if these things happen, it’s not because you are not good enough. The company wouldn’t have hired you if you weren’t up to the job. This can happen for many reasons including your ideas being suffocated by an insecure boss who simply can’t bear to give away any of his or her control. Be realistic, if your ideas are good but being constantly rejected, will you ever make progress within this company? After giving your best, perhaps you are simply ‘flogging a dead horse’ and it’s time to go someplace where your ideas will be welcomed.
No life outside the office
When you hear yourself backing out of social engagements because you’re stuck in the office at 9 o’clock at night, is it time to reconsider your work-life balance? Of course, we want to do our work well, and it goes without saying that we expect to be inconvenienced by work on occasion, but having a life outside the office is an important thing too. Humans are social animals who rely on interaction with others to maintain their mental health. A failure to do this can lead to a build-up of emotional stress, and ultimately to depression. If the heavy workload is a temporary blip, then maybe we can let it go, but if the extra workload is down to poor management, then the problem is unlikely to get better any time soon, and it sounds like it’s time to consider a move.
It’s ok to feel the fear of change
Change can seem scary. The fear of the unknown can be, at best, unsettling, and, at worst, terrifying. However, please don’t be paralysed by fear. Ask yourself: ‘What’s the worst that can happen?” The answer is usually nothing very bad at all. Make a list of what you are afraid of, and be very specific. Once these fears are written down in black and white, they usually become very manageable and fade away, thus enabling you to free yourself up for change.