Ah, work. We have all manner of stuck moments around what we do for a living. And that’s not such a bad thing — because we’re identifying ways we can make our jobs and companies better.
Except if the job itself is what’s keeping you stuck.
When the hours spent at work consistently clock in anywhere from low-level misery to high-grade unhappiness, your most frequent debate is whether to quit or tough it out.
The very liberating answer is that it’s up to you.
More than anyone, you know what’s most important to you now and in the future, what you can and cannot tolerate, whether you can turn it around or need to head for the hills. But it does take honest reflection on your situation and your priorities to gain clarity.
To help with that, we created the Should-I-Quit-My-Job reality checklist. But before (and after) you begin checking boxes, there are a few other things to consider.
1. What a job actually is. A job is an agreement between you and your employer. In exchange for your competent services, the employer agrees to pay you and to provide a physically safe work environment. All the other stuff — company mission, culture, mentorship, advancement, pay raises, policies, process — are your choice to accept or decline. In other words, you are not a victim of how a company operates unless you choose to be. You can adapt, you can work for positive change, or you can step away.
2. No job is perfect. Ever. Even your friends who travel around the world, make a zillion dollars, or party in the name of work have a complaint or two. We all have to decide if what we get from the job outweighs what we grumble about. And 10 grumbles to one piece of praise do not automatically mean it’s quitting time. If you find your work meaningful (the top priority for Americans) but you harp on the inefficiencies, it’s time to examine how much you’ve done — and how much more you can do — to lessen the grumbles. Likewise, if your favorite part of your job is the paycheck.
3. Comfort has a way of sidetracking you. It’s actually a strategy of some employers to offer such outstanding benefits that you’re unwilling to give up the job, even if it doesn’t really suit you. So you stay for the pay or the vacation time or the company softball team. Then, without realizing it, your passion and ambition dwindle, along with your confidence to pursue work elsewhere.
Okay, now it’s time to start assessing whether you should stay or go. Try not to let emotions color your responses on the checklist. And once you have a final answer (the checklist is a tool, not an oracle), explore the resources below to help you with next steps — even if you’re petrified. Once you start seeing the possibilities, fear is often replaced with enthusiasm. Or, if you’re champing at the bit to hand in your resignation, remember that it’s usually better to leave for something rather than leave to get away from something.
Find a new job (before you quit)
• Muse U: Advice on resumes, interviews, networking; job listings
• Linkedin: Networking, job listings
• Simply Hired: Job listings
• Glassdoor: Company reviews, salaries, job listings
Make your current job better
Download the printable Should-I-Quit-My-Job reality checklist
Next week: Unstuck Hero: A vision that delivers dignity to tens of thousands a day
Last week: Is it okay to let someone else call the shots?
Why express how we feel when an emoticon will do? Why ponder a situation when we can Google it instead? Are machines rubbing off on us? Are we becoming automatic, too? And all that time we’re saving — what’s it for? Let’s earmark it for some human-to-human contact.
Stuck moment: I guess I stopped caring enough about what I want. Everything seemed to be going fine, so it was easier to nod and go along with stuff — even if my heart wasn’t in it. But now it feels like I have no say, and that’s kind of cruddy.
* * *
We get stuck as Drifters when we stop acting in our own best interest. Life’s twists, turns, and demands can weaken our resolve, and in those moments we convince ourselves that things shouldn’t be so challenging. At least that’s our reasoning for taking the path of least resistance. Before we know it, the easy way becomes a habit. So instead of directing our lives according our own wishes and hopes, we just borrow someone else’s. Or we reject the idea of wishing and hoping at all.
However you got derailed — there are at least four main ways — the path that directed you there will also provide your ticket out.
Take our mini-quiz to find your best approach.
Think of a time when you were off track with what’s important to you. What did you Feel, Think, and Do? Pick one from each group. This works best when you answer quickly, following your gut instinct.
What did you Feel when you were off track?
What did you Think when you were off track?
A. Someone else will figure it out.
B. I pick my battles carefully.
C. He needs this more than I do.
D. They just don’t get me.
What did you Do when you were off track?
A. Went along with it.
B. Didn’t pick any battles.
C. Tended to someone else’s details.
D. Skirted the situation.
If you chose mostly A answers, read about Backseat Drifters, below. Mostly B’s, you’re likely a Bulletproof Drifter. C’s are Backstage Drifters, and D’s are Drifters-Without-a-Cause. If you had a mix of letters, you’re a hybrid, which means you’ll find parts of yourself in all four types.
After you’ve read the descriptions, download our Course Corrector worksheet and complete the exercise designed specifically for your Drifter type.
A. Backseat Drifter
You’re everyone’s favorite passenger. You let others take the driver’s seat, and trust them to get the show on the road. Why call the shots when it’s so much easier to go with the flow? This way, if stuff goes wrong, no one can stick the blame on you. Yours is a backseat view of the journey of your own life: As you watch it pass, others decide your direction. After a while, you may not even know what you want anymore.
You need to believe that you can steer your own life. You’ve accepted that someone in your life will always know better. You need to figure out why you don’t speak up for yourself — which means taking a good look at moments when you’ve given up the wheel.
Course-correct by reflecting on two recent stuck moments. Get the exercise.
B. Bulletproof Drifter
You’re a realist, and people appreciate your lack of drama — but your equilibrium has been hard-won. Things started with so much promise, but then the leaps you made fell short of where you’d hoped to go. And that was a blow to your confidence. So now you keep your armor up and expectations down, wherever you’re heading. Or, worse, you go nowhere at all.
You need to believe in the possibility of success. Imagining a bigger future starts with changing your attitude toward mistakes of the past. To be successful, we need to develop our ability to dust ourselves off after a fall and try again. Consider some of history’s greatest failures to show you how.
Course-correct by imagining a world in which quitting is the norm. Get the exercise.
C. Backstage Drifter
You have a special ability to help others find their star. Many would say that you’re selfless for the way you shy away from the spotlight as you work tirelessly behind the scenes — but, deep down, you suspect you don’t deserve first choice anyway. So, while you’re busy helping others stage their scenes, your own dreams gather dust.
You need to believe in your own importance. Think of it this way: If you don’t put yourself first now, when will you? Potential may be endless, but time is finite.
Course-correct by looking at how much time is in your hourglass to devote to yourself. Get the exercise.
You’re fighting for your identity in a world that tries to fit you in a mold. You want no part of the “norm.” After all, how could you innovate if your individuality is being crushed in the daily grind? So you reject the usual signposts of success…but aren’t quite sure what to substitute for them. And that leaves you without a goal in sight.
You need to believe that you do have a role to play in the world. A single-minded rejection of convention cuts you off from possibility. Practice appreciating both the world and yourself for what you are — and you’ll find there’s a place for your own unique contribution.
Course-correct by discovering the art of seeing from different perspectives. Get the exercise.
DOWNLOAD THIS PRINTABLE WORKSHEET: Course Correctors: How to get your life back on track
Lemons are a healthy miracle delivered in adorably sunny packages that belie their impressive superpowers:
1. Keep your immune system in fight mode, thanks to the Vitamin C.
2. Balance the pH levels in your body (balance is always a good word).
3. Flush toxins and removes poisons from your liver.
4. Aid in healthy digestion.
5. Help reduce pain and inflammation in joints.
6. Fade acne spots and combat aging (um, yes please!).
7. Strengthen blood vessels.
There is one little catch: You need to make lemons part of your daily food routine. Fortunately, that’s not hard to do.
• Start your day with half a lemon squeezed in a tall glass of room-temperature water.
• Ask for a bowl of lemon wedges at a restaurant so you have enough to squeeze into each refill of water.
• Lemons enhance the saltiness of food, so don’t go crazy with the salt shaker, add some lemon juice instead.
Thanks to REFIT® for this tip. REFIT is a community-centered fitness program that engages the heart as a muscle and a soul. Learn more about this revolutionary fitness community at www.REFITREV.com
You know what fake confidence is, right? It’s that person who “knows it all.” Who always has the answer, even if it’s not right. He’s putting on a show for you and for himself. Meanwhile, the rest of us are working on our C level by wondering, inquiring, and paying attention to the world. Eventually, we feel confident in our confidence, and we don’t have to show it off — unless someone asks.