How many people do you know who really don’t like what they do for a living? Anywhere from “eh, it pays the bills” to “I fricking HATE it”?
And are you one of those people?
I was recently reminded of just how many people don’t like their jobs when I had a conversation with a friend of mine. She described all of the things she hated about her job and then, when I asked her if she was going to start looking for a new one she said, “Well, it pays the bill. And the next one could be worse.”
And it’s certainly not just her. A regularly updated gallop poll since 2000 has reported that only 20-34% of Americans report feeling “engaged” in their jobs. (With the rest feeling unengaged or actively disengaged.) And I think it would be a stretch to extrapolate that “engaged” means happy, don’t you?
So let me ask you, would you be satisfied with only a 20% chance of liking your spouse? Or a 20% chance of enjoying a vacation? Or only liking the place you live 20% of the time? Of course not!
So WHY do so many people settle for being unhappy in their jobs? Why do so many people make up arguments like, “Well, my family life is okay, and that can be enough” or “I’m just working for the weekend” or “Well, the pay is decent, so I might as well stay”?
Look, I’m not saying that it’s realistic to expect a career that delights and thrills you all the time. But why do so many people think it’s unrealistic to expect a career that they can just enjoy most of the time? That makes them feel competent and rewarded and fulfilled?
We work for at least 2000 hours a year, and that’s if you only have to work 40 hours a week and you get a two-week vacation. (And that doesn’t include commuting time). Most of us work much more.
From ages 22 to 65, that’s 86,000 hours. That’s 9.8 YEARS. At a minimum. Most of us spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our spouses or even our own kids.
So WHY do people work in jobs that they hate? I know that it’s from fear and I suspect it has a lot to do with fear of the unknown. As in, “Well, sure, I could get a new job…but what if it’s even worse than this one?”
As my Comprehensive Copywriting Academy students know, this is what we call “false logic” because, at first blush, it seems logical but, on further analysis…it doesn’t make any sense.
So we’ve got an “I can’t take a new job because it might be worse than my current job” logic set up. But the problem is that you can’t know if it’s better or worse than your current job until you take the new job. You can’t know what it’s like until you do it—but you’re also saying you can’t do it until you know what it’s like!
There are hundreds of thousands of different jobs out there. Some that require some additional training (so, okay, get some additional training) and some that don’t. Each time you make an effort to finding the right job or career for you, you learn more about what you like and what you don’t like and you get closer.
You ALSO gain new skills and experience that make you more marketable (read: easier to get a job and get paid more for it) for your next job.
So the truth is that you don’t need to know if your next job is going to be better or worse because it will get you closer to your best job no matter what. And if that job happens to be worse, you begin looking for another one. As long as you keep refining what you want AND adding to your skills and professional network, you can find something you love.
It is absolutely unacceptable for any of us to be spending so much of our time in jobs or careers we don’t love when there are SO many jobs and careers out there that it’s inevitable that ONE of them will at least make us happier.
It is NOT too much to expect to love your job. But it IS too much to expect if you think your perfect (or even just a better) job is going to fall into your lap without you doing any exploring, research, or learning.
Become your own advocate. Demand for yourself a better life than what you’re leading—and demand it OF yourself. Is it really so scary to imagine actually enjoying what you do for a living?
As someone who does enjoy what she does for a living (and delights in how her career evolves and changes over time), I can tell you that it’s not scary at all.
It’s f***ing wonderful. 🙂