Should you quit your job? What does it mean to love what you do as a career?
A point I think I haven’t made clear enough in the past is that not everyone should jump up and quit their jobs because they find the slightest fault with it.
NO JOB IS PERFECT
No one’s job is perfect.
Even people you admire, have jobs that aggravate them 20% of the time.
A lot of people in their self-professed dream careers (myself included), will sometimes gloss over the tough bits because the past is always rosier than what we can remember.
It’s not that we’re purposefully trying to brag and say how great our jobs are, it’s more that we can’t remember what it felt like, so we don’t dwell on it.
We humans have a way of blocking out the bad stuff once the storm is over, and we don’t remember just how we felt in the deepest, darkest trench of our emotional loves.
All we can see in the past is always in hindsight.
The real question is whether or not you can bounce back.
BEING YOUR OWN BOSS COMES WITH A LITTLE TOO MUCH FREEDOM
Small-business owners (of which freelancers are), is not a business for everyone.
It sounds very enticing to people who haven’t been in that position, but it isn’t all fun and games, and sitting around in your pajamas watching videos of cats on YouTube (for the record, do people really do this?)
Here is a small sampling of the bad side of being on your own:
- ALWAYS being harassed, asked about, and judged by your family / friends about WHEN you are getting a contract or as they like to call it “a job”, as if you have forgotten that you need money
- Being told you don’t have a job or that you’re “unemployed” — this one irks me the most and I have reserved my best swear words for these people
- No steady pay cheque to even out income — this weighs heavily on your mind between contracts
- No guaranteed future income — see above, and wondering if you’re better off in a company
- Sensitivity to the economy and any kind of changes in how companies spend money
- Aware that even if you are part of a client’s “team”, you are not their colleague
- Don’t expect to be invited into any inner-colleague circle gab fests
- Nobody to be open, frank or to commiserate with because you are ALWAYS an outsider
- Slight dips into depression and questioning your self-worth
- Unable to handle being alone with no one to talk to / discuss things with
- Being interviewed every single time for a contract – very stressful and arbitrary at times
- Being rejected for stupid reasons – No joke, I was rejected for a contract by someone because he didn’t like that I was a woman (didn’t say it directly, but it was implied in the questions he asked)
I could go on.
It is not a job that is for someone who likes a steady workplace with steady work — you can have dips in stress, but as long as you aren’t stressed 24/7, and colleagues to care about you and for you to care about.
It really isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, to work for yourself and to not have to work for long periods of time.
I am not a person who can sit idle and twiddle her thumbs during down times.
I tend to ramp up on other side projects, write a lot of posts (have you seen my month of March and April? I am posting daily except for Sunday), and search for ways to spend my time.
All of the above I can handle because I’ve been through it and I’ll come out all right at the end, but I know what the bad sides are, along with the good.
DON’T QUIT IF YOU ENJOY YOUR JOB MOST OF THE TIME
If the money is good, the workplace is fair, the employer is just, your colleagues are fantastic folks, and the work itself is not something that you can’t handle and are crying about every night, then perhaps you shouldn’t quit.
Nobody should be thinking: Hey to love my career, I have to want to do it for free!
I love my career, but I love it the most over other jobs I could do, because it pays well and gives me a lot of freedom, as well as free time off to travel and meander about the world.
I wouldn’t do it for free.
Are you kidding?
It’s that kind of mentality that makes you think: Hey I should do my HOBBY as a career, and then they wonder why they fall flat on their face.
QUIT IF YOU WAKE UP EACH MORNING TRULY HATING WHAT YOU DO
Sometimes you have to either understand it is not you, it’s the job… or maybe it’s really you. You’re not meant to do that job.
See if you wake up in the morning and think: I HATE MY LIFE. … it could be a sign that you should quit.
If you go into the office and you see your colleague kissing the butt of your boss YET again, which is why she gets off scot-free doing jack squat while you’re saddled with all the work meant for two people… it could be a sign that you should quit.
If you go to work and wonder how you’re going to pay your electric bill, let alone find money to pay for food at the dollar store…… it could be a sign that you should quit.
Or at least find a second job.
Most people I know, don’t jump up out of bed and run to work.
They go to work, they like what they do, but they don’t LOVE it, and when all is said and done, it is a fine job that doesn’t cause (too) much stress.
A little stress is good once in a while, it helps you focus, and getting out of that stressful funk is all the more sweeter.
They’re happy, even content, but not ecstatic because they don’t think it’s their life’s calling.
IF MONEY IS THE ONLY THING HOLDING YOU BACK
If you love everything but the pay, then you have a few options:
- Ask for more money — if you are a truly good employee and you are frustrated by what you think is not fair and equitable pay, then ask for more money. Don’t just do it to screw the company, because they can only take so much.
- Talk about yourself and your accomplishments — Seriously, say something. Your boss is busy. He or she can’t remember what you’ve done from the next person, but the one who squawks the loudest and schmoozes the best, is the one who will stick in their heads.
- Be a nice person to work with — You can be technically competent at your job but if everyone hates working with you, don’t bother asking for any money. You don’t have to be a pushover or a doormat, but you can’t be a rude, annoying, discourteous, awful co-worker either. People don’t like giving more money to people they don’t like. It’s that simple.
- Leave — Always an option to quit. Maybe they’ll give you more money to stay. Maybe they won’t. You will only find out if you try.
OBJECTIVELY ASSESS ALL THE GOOD AND THE BAD TOGETHER
When it comes down to it, it’s your life.
Objectively write down all the pros and cons (even the little things, like how your boss brings coffee every other Friday or takes everyone out for a lunch for a job well done), and take a hard look at your work ledger.
If it’s about equally balanced, your job isn’t that bad.
If you have more good than bad, treasure your job!
If you have more bad than good, this is where you have to decide whether you want to sacrifice what you think you deserve (for whatever your reasons are), and make your peace with it.
I did something similar for myself quite recently, and my job is more good than bad, even though when I feel I am wallowing in the darkest recesses of the trench, it is still better than my alternative.
Yeah, all jobs are crap sometimes.
If they weren’t, they would not have to pay us to do the work, we would show up everyday because we wanted to be there. We would not call them jobs, we would call them hobbies. The fact that somebody has to give you money to show up means that you will have to deal with crappy things.
And being an employee usually has at least some perks. Where I live, employees get crazy good maternity benefits. Insanely crazy even, at the moment (the law was just ammended); 2 years at 85% salary paid maternity leave. Also, you cannot be fired 6 months after comming back to work. If this not worth hanging around for, I don’t know what is.
Benefits as a self employed person? Well, you have to pay for it, if you want it and it costs a lot in taxes.
Same thing for pensions and health care. As a self employed person, you need to pay out of your own pocket for these and also, you need to deal directly with the state’s burocracy and that’s more anoying than anything.
Sometimes it’s a lot easier to get more money as an employee as well. Put it this way: if you’re scared to negociate your raise with your boss, well then, what makes you think you can negociate your fees with a company for which you are an outside contractor? If you can’t manage the interaction with somebody that you know and have worked together with, at a time when you’re not stressed about your job, how exactly are you going to interact with unknown people, when you’re worried if your money is going to last until your next paycheck.
Being an employee allows you to learn a lot about your industry’s culture and customs and let’s you network on your company’s money and that can prove invaluable when you become a contractor.
However, if your job is making you sick everyday, either physically sick or sick and tired of it, then yes, get going. There are a 1000 paths to more money, but they are all easier to follow if you have good physical and mental health.
That being said, I really envy self employed people :). I think it’s amazing to be able to stop and recharge your batteries for a while.
One of my worst mistakes is not taking the initiative and quitting an internship instead of being fired later. I hated the work that I was doing with a burning passion but couldn’t get myself to quit, I don’t know why. I usually don’t care what kind of work anybody gives me (by this time I had 6 jobs under my belt and have gotten recommendations from each one) but this one was the worst. I learned the hard way that quitting isn’t necessarily a bad thing.