June 29, 2016

The Lies we Tell Ourselves to stay in Jobs we Hate—& How to get Out.

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It was the mid-1990s. I was getting dressed to go into the office early one morning when the phone rang.

In a frantic voice, someone was telling me that there was a problem with the new helicopter that was supposed to be landing for the press conference. The newspapers were there, the live TV news cameras were there. But there was no helicopter.


Geez. Why did I stay with this job?

It was more work than I could handle, more meetings than I wanted to go to and it gave me actual brain aches from all the problem solving. I dragged myself out of bed in the mornings and dreaded every time the phone rang.

Still, I stuck it out.

I was supporting myself for the first time in my life and there was nobody bringing home the bacon besides me. Simply put, I needed the money.

Every time I thought about making a change, I was overwhelmed with the idea that it would take as much energy to find a new job as it took to stay in the old one.

I didn’t want to face a new learning curve, to “prove myself, build my credibility and new relationships, and learn new ways of doing things.” The devil I knew was better than the devil I didn’t know. After all, there was “no guarantee of [a new job] being any better—it could even end up being worse.”

“Maybe if I stick around, things will get better.”

I had image, respect, visibility and three weeks vacation a year. If I got a new job, I’d go back to ground zero. I lived close enough to walk to work, was able to pick my own hours and was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to duplicate those two things.

To complicate things, the morning of the helicopter phone call I had found yet another reason to stay stuck in the job: my mother.

As I stood in front of my bathroom mirror, I suddenly had a memory of her telling me how she always wanted to try her wings, to have gone beyond being a seamstress and a housewife, to have had the opportunity to prove that she had what it took to go toe-to-toe with the rest of the world.

She hadn’t had that chance though, and in a rush of emotion I realized that part of why I had stayed on at a job I hated was because of her.

I was my mother’s do-over.

It took me six years and lots of soul searching, meditation, yoga, and even therapy to finally gain the confidence to quit, but when I did, I never looked back.

Most importantly however, I realized over time that none of the reasons I had used to justify staying mattered—the money, the perceived security, the length of a new learning curve, even having the chance to give my long-dead mother a do-over.

The truth was, I was afraid and I had been lying to myself.

Looking back, when I did leave, I applied all the creativity, ingenuity, perseverance, and grit to finding a new job that I had been applying to a job I hated.

>> I moved into a smaller house, bought a used car, reduced my overhead to as low as possible and learned to live within my means.

>> Because I was not wasting my energy on a job I hated, I found that I had more than enough energy to invest in finding a new one.

>> I committed myself to learning new skills that were interesting to me and that didn’t take me long to grasp.

>> I made a conscious decision to trust myself and to not pick a job that was worse than the one I left.

>> I decided that being pro-active about my life and my job would in the end result in greater payoffs than complaining and being passive would.

>> I applied only for jobs that I felt confident that I could do, not ones that I felt were outside what was comfortable for me.

>> I worked at temp jobs until I ultimately found one that allowed me to work at home, at my own hours.

I know now that had I not quit that job all those years ago, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. I would be a woman with more money, but in the end, no matter how much money I had, I would still be afraid.

It was worth everything I thought I was risking to find out what I really enjoyed doing, what kind of work fulfilled me and most of all, to set myself free from the fear that was crippling me and making me so unhappy.


Author: Carmelene Siani

Image: via Imgur

Editor: Catherine Monkman; Nicole Cameron

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