More than half of American workers hate their jobs, according to one study.
And that may well be an underestimate, based on my own anecdotal observation any time I find myself on the train during morning rush hour. The misery hanging over those commuters is absolutely palpable.
There are lots of theories for why people feel so miserable. No doubt a big reason is that those who are lucky to have survived layoffs are left doing the jobs of several workers.
But I think the heart of the problem is that so many people feel trapped in a job or a field they’re unequipped for, either by skill or temperament. At some point they got slotted in to a certain occupation or industry and they never managed to make their way out of that track.
It reminds me of the seminal closing scene from the Breakfast Club:
“You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal…”
Breaking free of other people’s limited (and limiting) expectations is tough. And in a ridiculous economic climate like this one, fleeing the security of a steady job is obviously risky. But I love this advice that was shared at a workshop I went to the other night:
If you’re miserable in your job, do yourself and everyone else a favor: quit.
Easier said than done, of course. I personally feel lucky to have found work that I truly love. But if you’re not happy, start working on figuring out why. There are endless resources, from career coaches to the old classic What Color is Your Parachute?
Someday the opportunity to take a leap will present itself. Which brings me to one more favorite saying, an old Native American proverb:
In the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.