Sometimes I wake up in the morning before work and think to myself,
“Is this what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life? Really?”
and I’m not alone.
Statistics show 80% of people are unhappy with their jobs. It seems that in this country we either have great fulfilling careers or we have high stress blood sucking soul destroying jobs and not much in between. We are becoming an epidemic of people living in quiet desperation. But WHY?
According to a 2013 Gallup survey, only 13% of employees feel engaged at work. High levels of burnout are rampant, even with senior level executives. 3 in 4 employees report stress at work is bleeding into their private lives. Research shows that parent’s who come home from jobs they hate have children who are more like likely to be bullies. Our work is draining us. Our relationships are suffering. Our kids are suffering. But it gets worse…
Did you know if you have a high stress demanding job your have a 23% increased risk of a heart attack? An increased risk for diabetes, accelerated aging, depression, and death? OUR JOBS ARE KILLING US.
Well, my own personal dissatisfaction with work and disengagement with my job has led me on a quest to answer this very question. For myself. For you. For our world that is quietly suffering at work.
So let’s cut to the chase. Here are the most common reasons I’ve found:
- We don’t feel safe, supported or appreciated at work.
We would put ourselves at great risk for our companies if they put themselves at great risk for us. But they don’t. And we don’t. – Simon Sinek
The United States is terrible at creating leaders. Sure, we have lots of managers. Managers that can look at the bottom line and micro-manage the hell out of their employees. Managers that will reprimand, threaten and terminate employees if they don’t do their jobs exactly as outlined. But we are greatly lacking in leaders: people with strong social skills who can INSPIRE others to do outstanding work. Think of what our jobs would be like if we were surrounded by leaders instead of managers?
If you aren’t supported at work, you may feel like your job is unstable. You might fear being “let go” or worry that you will never get a promotion. It’s a relevant fear. You aren’t alone. It’s common and it’s real. Our managers want us to work long hours with little or no breaks. They want us to conform to their idea of a work day instead of allowing us the flexibility we crave. They put little to no emphasis on social connections which really is what helps us feel connected and satisfied at work. They focus on the bottom line and as a result their bottom line is suffering.
2. You are working for the wrong reasons
This is most commonly found when you are working just for the paycheck. I’s good money. You need it to support your family. Well that is a noble reason to keep chugging along but it’s the same as living with a roommate you don’t like: it’s tolerable for a few months but not the rest of your life.
This also happens when you feel stuck. You chose (or fell into) a career when you were young and after several years you feel locked in. You feel stuck. You’ve put in too many years to start over with something you’d love to do. You don’t feel like you are in control of your life or career anymore. Of course this will make you unhappy.
Or maybe your job just doesn’t fit you. Are the skills required to do your job difficult or uncomfortable for you? Maybe it’s not the best fit. It might not be playing into your strengths. Did you know settling for a job you hate is more stressful that being unemployed? Shocking, right? So start thinking about WHY you do what you do. And do it now. It’s important (more on that later).
3. Your job lacks meaning
So you have a job. So it gives you a paycheck. But you sense you are made for something more meaningful and exciting. You long to do something that makes a difference in the lives of others. You crave using your talents to foster your creativity but you have no idea how to do that.
Consider this genius point from Simon Sinek
In the military they sacrifice themselves so that others may gain,
but in business we are willing to give bonuses to people who sacrifice others so that we may gain.
We have it backwards.
Our businesses have the wrong philosophy. They have it backwards. We are cut-throat and dog-eat-dog and it is not fostering meaning in our work and in our lives. It is hurting us greatly.
4. We work too much
Working 8, 9, 10, or even 14 hour days? Working the weekends and putting in overtime to try to get ahead at work? This leads to chronic stress and burnout. But I don’t have to tell you that do I? We all know this. So many of us don’t have hobbies or interests outside of work and it’s really hurting us. Do you live your job? So many of us feel obligated to work long hours. So many of us forget about work life balance. We forget to pursue our hobbies or we put them off for another day. But there really is no other day. There is only the present moment. Don’t forget to do the stuff you love.
5. We lack perspective
Now this is a big one and is comes from the culture of entitlement in our country. We expect to all be successful millionaires. We expect to live a perfect life. We are Americans. But compare your life to that of someone in a 3rd world country. Compare your life and your freedom to one full of systemic oppression. It doesn’t seem that bad now does it? Some of us just need to open our eyes to the fact that we have it better than most of the world. And we need to be grateful for that. We need to be thankful. Every. Single. Day. Because really, we have it SO good.
Another area we lack perspective is our false belief that if we work hard we will be successful. That is not true. Lot’s of people work hard and never become successful. We only become successful if we increase our value in the marketplace. Period. We also have this false belief that success = happiness. Well if you read my previous post, you know that is not really true. Money won’t buy you happiness. I know you’ve heard it. Now absorb it. Stop looking for success to fill your emptiness. We buy more things. Drive in expensive cars. Buy bigger houses. But there is still a strange hole inside of us and we are trying to fill it with the wrong things. Stop tying your success to your happiness. Stop comparing yourself to others. Wake up and look at the glorious life you have in front of you. Stop searching for meaning in empty places.
Okay. So that’s the bad news. We are an unhappy overworked bunch. But there is also good news: we can change it. Each and every one of us has the power to change our lives. Change our jobs. Change our environment. Change our perspective. Change ourselves.
So now we know some of the main reasons why we are unhappy at work. Stay tuned next week for Part 2 in my work fulfillment series: What to do about it.
Are you unhappy at work or do you love your job? Why? I want to hear about it!
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P.S. (Some interesting stuff for your review)