Do you hate your job?
Did you choose a major in college that seemed prudent in theory, but is now dreadful in practice?
Do you hate the work itself, or have you just already maxed out your job’s potential?
Is your boss pompous and controlling and passes over your work?
Or perhaps, "hate" is too strong a word for how you feel about your profession.
Maybe it’s just "blah."
It induces a bad case of ennui. It leaves you waiting for something, but you don't know what it is yet.
But, you stay because a job is just a job. It costs money to live.
You figure when you leave the office at 5 pm (or 6 pm or 7 pm), you still have the rest of the day to do something fulfilling, be happy and enjoy life.
If that were true, it would be fine.
In reality, your dead-end job isn’t just affecting your professional life; it’s affecting your entire life.
Even if you espouse the “work to live” philosophy, you’re still being negatively affected by your dislike (and in some cases, disdain) for what you do during the work week.
Here are six ways your dead-end job is impacting your entire life:
1. You have a pit in your stomach on Sunday nights.
The pit feels like a boulder inside your abdomen, and the only way to remove it is to fast-forward the five days until you’re free again.
The sense of dread is so intense and pervasive, it obliterates your enjoyment of Sunday afternoon.
2. You squander your free time by complaining about your job.
You meet your friends for happy hour, and all you can do is aggressively vent about all of the menial, banal, frustrating or upsetting things that happen where you spend 40 or more hours a week, 50 weeks a year.
3. You aren’t invested, and so you fall short of reaching your full potential.
I should know. I have a law degree, but I hated every minute of being a lawyer at a firm.
When I was there, I half-assed it. I expended the minimum amount of effort necessary to keep up appearances and draw the illusion I was motivated and interested in the minutiae of securities litigation.
What was my incentive to work hard? I had no interest in moving up the corporate ladder, so why would I be invested in my work?
4. When you don’t reach your full potential, you lose your sense of purpose.
During my time as an attorney, one day blurred into the next. So much so, Monday was the same as Thursday.
My world was colorless. Even though I’ve always been an optimist, I no longer woke up with a positive outlook and the “Today is a new day, and I can do anything” mindset.
After several years of this, I came to the realization if I kept inching along this path, I’d regret it when I looked back on my life in 50 years.
I knew I’d be ashamed if I let myself idle through life, entrenched in my own version of mediocrity.
5. You feel lethargic.
After work, I’d fritter away my evenings with tedious activities. I wasn’t motivated to engage in anything creative, writing or otherwise.
I was completely depleted of energy, even though I hadn’t really accomplished all that much during the work day.
Imagine, for a moment, how you feel when you’re excited about something.
Close your eyes, and feel your blood start pumping faster and your heart rate accelerating.
Do you feel alive? Are you invigorated?
Do you feel the exact opposite of how you feel at your dead-end job?
6. You are not professionally confident.
This point is best elucidated by describing how I feel when I'm working on a project I enjoy.
Writing is my passion, and every time I write on a topic I feel strongly about, I unleash my full arsenal of time, effort and research into it.
This yields a result I'm proud of.
As such, I want to disseminate my work, and share the fruits of my accomplishments with others, in the hopes it influences their lives.
Now, there is no doubt people have a period, or possibly even multiple periods, in their lives when they have to hold down jobs they don’t like simply because they have bills to pay.
Or sometimes, circumstances necessitate taking jobs that aren't ideal because employment is necessary.
Particularly, in today’s tough economy, any job is a good job.
But if you're in a long-term career that is dissatisfying to you, you have the option not to remain complacent. You should not remain complacent.
If you’re not deriving a measure of enjoyment from what you do, take a good, long look at the reason why. Figure out why you're allowing yourself to settle.
Then, cobble together a plan for how you can make a change to remedy this.
Don’t be discouraged if you can’t immediately think of another career.
It takes time, effort and exploration to peel back the layers of your personality and find that sweet spot between passion and a career that generates income.
In the mean time, adjusting your attitude can go a long way toward appreciating the job you currently have.
No matter what, don’t give up on your pursuit of professional fulfillment.
When the 80-year-old you looks back on life, you want it to be with pride for who you’ve become, what you’ve accomplished and the risks you've taken when playing it safe was the easier choice.