A lot of people hate their jobs. They wake up unhappy, go to work miserable, and come home emitting negativity. They argue that they can’t quit their jobs due to financial constraints to maintain their lifestyles.
Fine. You can’t quit or don’t want to quit. Either way, I implore you to honestly ask yourself two questions:
Does your job make you happy?
Does your job make you a better person?
These two questions can guide your decision-making process for other roadblocks like personal relationships but I’ll focus on employment. First, let’s make one thing clear. Even with financial constraints, there may be better opportunities that are more fulfilling, elsewhere. For example, some professionals have left big law salaries of $200,000 for startup salaries of $0.
Does Your Job Make You Happy?
The traditional mantra is that work isn’t supposed to be fun. You go to work because you have to. Put on your facade to go to work and take it off when you go home. Work is work, home is home. Be happy on your own time.
This line of thinking has been prevalent since the industrial revolution, but is it the right view? Considering the role of happiness in our professional and personal lives, there may truly be a happiness advantage.
In the workplace, happiness has distinct advantages. Workplace happiness is strongly correlated with performance, productivity, energy, promotions, and income. The happier you are, the more productive you are — upwards of 50% productivity boost.
Happiness radiates through your personal life as well. It affects how you interact with others which affects your friendships and romantic relationships. Happiness even influences your health — if you’re happy, you’re more likely to have better health and a longer life.
Interestingly enough, money and physical goods don’t make you happy. You can’t buy happiness. As long as you have enough money to cover your basic needs, more money does not improve your happiness level.
I’m not necessarily suggesting that you quit your job to become a photographer or artist; I’m suggesting that you seriously consider whether your current job makes you happy. If not, maybe there’s a more fulfilling opportunity elsewhere.
Does Your Job Make You a Better Person?
Fine, you hate your job but is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Is it a stepping stone to better things? Does it improve your exit opportunities? Are you learning a skill you know you’ll need for your next adventure? Is it part of the journey towards your long-term goals? Does it make you a better person?
A prime example of this would be professionals that require licensing. Many people who study accounting choose to finish their CPA designation despite knowing that they won’t practice and are using the experience (and the “transferable skills”) to transition to consulting, marketing, or to start a company.
Another example of this would be developers who join large companies to improve their skills before going off on their own adventures. They plan to build their own company eventually, but until then, why not get paid to learn?
Even if your current job doesn’t improve your career prospects, it might improve you as a person. If you’re introverted and want to improve your social skills, you might find a job that forces you to be hyper-social.
Does your job move you towards where you want to be professionally and personally?
Happy + Better
Both happy and better. This is the ideal situation. We spend such a large percentage of our lives at work that finding something we love is critical.
On average, we have 28,835 days in our lives. 5,475 days will be spent in the first fifteen years. With the days left: 8,477 are spent sleeping while 3,202 are spent working. Imagine if each day was a jellybean.
Happy / Better
Either happy or better. This is the situation that most people face — and is the situation I faced before I opted to go after both. A lot of people will be complacent or even happy here, but when you look back — in 5, 10, or 20 years — which decisions are you going to least regret?
Neither happy nor better. I would strongly consider this piece of advice from Steve Jobs:
I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Did quitting your job make you happier? Let me know on Twitter (@sebfung).
Like my blog posts? Subscribe.