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Should I Quit My Job If It Makes Me Unhappy but Pays Well?

Should I Quit My Job If It Makes Me Unhappy but Pays Well?

Why are you so sad? You’re getting paid, right? And you’re getting paid well, right?

I know why you’re so sad.

Because you dread going to work every single day. You spend your lunch hour crying with your office door closed. You go home and drink alone or stress eat like nobody ever stress-ate before. Or just go right to bed and start the cycle all over again.

The bad news is that this is not an uncommon occurrence for American adults in the work place. A Gallup poll published in September of 2017 stated that 85% of adults worldwide hate their jobs.[1] From this poll, 30% of Americans are engaged at work, which is a better statistic; but this still means that 70% of Americans are not enjoying their 40-plus hours every week at their place of employment.

If you’re one of the 70%, then you have probably considered looking elsewhere to make a living and earn so you can pay your bills. But at what point do you start looking for new work? And at what point do you throw in the towel and just quit? Depending on the intensity of your situation, this could be a fine line or a wide gap.

How Did You Get Here?

In my 25 years working in higher education, I’ve held nine different jobs at nine different colleges and in seven different states. When I say that out loud to others, I sometimes get strange looks…or someone will just say, “Wow.” But my own career trajectory is not that off base of the average American. Balance Careers states that the average employee will change jobs ten to fifteen times with 12 being the standard number of job changes.[2] Meaning I’m below the national average. So take that, Position Tenure Critics.

Still, it would seem odd to intentionally leave a position after 9 months, as I did once back in the early 2000’s. While I did not “quit” that job, I began my exit plan shortly after the fifth month of employment.

Was I unhappy? Not exactly. But I also did not feel supported by my supervisor, and the question of “fit” plagued me on a weekly basis. While my situation was not unbearable day in and day out, there was one major Camel-Back-Breaking-Straw, so to speak, that propelled me into the direction of weekly searches on Higher Ed Jobs.

But I’m very aware that some of you out there are in a situation like I described in the early paragraph of this article and prompted your attraction to read more…

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Why People Stay in an Unhappy Job

For those of you in the miserable job that makes you cry, drink, and stress eat on a daily basis….how would you answer that question? Do any of these ring a bell?

1. This was the first job you were offered after college or graduate school.

When I was in my final year of graduate school, my friend Lori and I were hell bent on having a job in place before commencement. And I had been dead set on moving to Chicago because that’s my hometown.

I had three great interviews in Chicago, all at private schools. One by one those jobs went away and were offered to other candidates. Now it’s April and graduation is less than a month away. My final interview was at a university in Washington.

When I was offered the job, I considered my choices – take the job or hold out for something else. The latter would have made me the only person in my Hall Manager Cohort without a job at commencement. And I just couldn’t have that.

I took the job and moved to the Pacific Northwest. I got married there, too. I met my best friend there. And left the job after two years. It was a matter of fit.

2. It was the best salary you were offered.

I’ve never had the luxury of choosing a job based on the salary, but plenty of my friends have. In fact, I even gave a friend at my current employer a hard time for choosing salary over quality of life issues.

I can’t tell you not to take a job if the salary is good. But if the salary is the only reason you’re taking that job, then I would try and find one more compelling reason why you should say “yes.”

Make sure that you have something to fall back on if the rest of the job turns out to be horrible.

3. Your friends work there.

Who doesn’t want to work with their friends, right? Especially if one or more of them is having an amazing experience and they are just so excited that you are going to be working there too.

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Keep in mind that your friend’s reason for accepting a job may not align with yours. Having that friend at work may be the only blessing at this particular place of employment.

4. Your parents (significant other, mentor, etc.) told you to take it.

Ah…the outside influence. Not always so outside.

It’s tough to tell the people closest to you to bug off when it comes to taking a job. Easy for them to say “go for it,” right? They aren’t the ones who have to go there day in and day out.

Pressure from those closest to us can be really difficult, but in the end it’s your decision. If you find yourself in a job under these circumstances, then you don’t just have to figure out how to get out of the job; you have to figure out how to break the news to the pressure-giver.

5. You were afraid that there would not be any other offers.

You can relate this one back to my story in #1. When you are really desperate to find something because you need to get out of a nasty situation…or if you just get freaking tired of going on interviews, that first offer can be a god-send and let you breathe a sign of relief.

I’ve been down this road. I was not originally planning on leaving Position #7; but when my supervisor told me that this was as far as I could advance in that organization, I thought hard about whether staying was a good idea. I applied for jobs that did have room for advancement as well as higher salaries; and when one was offered to me, “FOMO” (fear of missing out) hit me in the face so hard I couldn’t sleep for two days.

Yup. I took that job. Yup. It was partially a big mistake. But that’s another story for another article.

There are probably another 50 or so answers to the “How Did I Get Here?” question…and you may have more than one that applies.

Questions to Ask Yourself If You’re Unhappy with Your Job

With all that in mind, here are some thoughts related to quitting your day job if you are unhappy but the money is good:

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1. What specifically is making you unhappy?

Is it the work itself? The commute to work? Your supervisor? Your colleagues? The salary? That there are no good vending machines or you can’t walk to Starbucks?

Nail down specifically what is making you unhappy. Then – consider whether you have any power over changing those things.

For example, if you don’t like the work itself but you do like your supervisor, then sit down with her and talk through it.. Maybe she just needs to hear you say you aren’t fulfilled in the work.

If your colleagues aren’t positive people or you just don’t get along with them, do you have the opportunity to switch teams or move to a different cubicle?

Don’t make the decision to quit if you can’t say why you would be quitting.

2. Is your current career field nourishing your passion and purpose?

I worked in certain facet of higher education and student affairs for more than 20 years; and I’d say for 15 of those years (in different increments), the position was fueling my purpose. And the times when I felt “wrong” in the job was usually when I would get itchy to leave.

The idealist in me always says that we work way too hard day in and day out to do something that we don’t enjoy. So why WOULD you stay in a position that doesn’t support your passion or purpose?

3. Are you prepared to make a lateral move?

I am thinking of a recent conversation I had with a counselor over the notion of “would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?” And I think that Jen Sincero said that too. But it makes complete sense.

Would you rather be happy in a position that might be a lateral move? Or would you rather dig your heels in waiting for promotion or advancement to present itself?

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Part of choosing happiness means putting that choice first, and so your ambition may need to take a quick break while you remove yourself from the toxic place currently causing your unhappiness.

4. Do you have a plan?

Unless you have a rich uncle hiding out somewhere who can support you, then you probably aren’t in a position to walk into your supervisor’s office and give notice immediately. You’ll need a plan.

Can you afford to take a month or so off and do some soul searching? Does leaving your job also mean leaving your field and trying something new? Will you need to update your resume and let your references know that you’re searching? There are many things to take into consideration once you start leaning towards quitting.

I have only quit a job once without a new job waiting for me elsewhere. At the time, I was honoring my husband’s desire for a location change (warmer weather). And he had been such a good sport about all the other job changes (at this stage I was on Position #4).

We moved from Illinois to Arizona with some semblance of a plan; but I did temporary apartment leasing for almost six months before landing on my feet with something that felt permanent. If I could go back and do it all again, I would have beefed up that plan just a little bit.

Final Thoughts

Only you can make the choice about quitting your job. You have to be able to make that decision and live with it regardless of where you stand. But weigh every factor first and talk to your close friends and your family while you are deciding.

The grass may be greener on the other side, especially if you have time to fertilize it first.

More Resources About Career Change

Featured photo credit: abi ismail via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Gallup: The World’s Broken Workplace
[2] The Balance Careers: How Often Do People Change Jobs?

More by this author

Kris McPeak

Educator, Author, Career Change and Work/Life Balance Guru

How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position 8 Impressive Questions to Ask During an Interview 6 Important Interview Questions for Employers to Ask Why Job Satisfaction Is Important If You Want to Succeed Should I Quit My Job If It Makes Me Unhappy but Pays Well?

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Last Updated on October 28, 2020

How to Set Long Term Goals and Achieve Success

How to Set Long Term Goals and Achieve Success

Have you ever wondered what you life is going to be like in 5 or 10 years? Will you be doing the same things you are today? Have you taken the time to envision the future through long term goals?

There are only three possibilities for your life in the future:

  1. It will be the same.
  2. It will be worse.
  3. It will be better.

There really is no other choice, so realizing this, which option will you choose?

If you choose option 3, then being able to set long term goals is the best way to ensure that you’ll get to where you want to go.

What Is a Long Term Goal?

A long term goal is what you are planning to achieve in the long-run or in the future.

Where do you want to be in five years[1]?

Everyone has a plan for their life. We all imagine what our future will look like, what we will be doing, how we will be living, and even who we will be living with.

While things rarely work out exactly as planned, it is nonetheless important to set long term goals and work toward them. Without long term goals, we are just wandering aimlessly through life.

The most successful people know the power of goal setting and how to break down larger goals that may take years to achieve into a series of smaller, short-term goals that will keep you focused and motivated.

How to Set (and Reach) Your Long Term Goals

Do you suffer from paralysis by analysis? It’s a common condition that happens when people are faced with a lot of options.

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When faced with too many options, they become obsessed with choosing the “right” one and never make a decision.

Likewise, when faced with a seemingly overwhelming task, they may never even start because they “just don’t know where to begin.”

Before we get started with some tips to help you, you can check out this video on setting goals for success:

By following these 7 easy steps, you can set and achieve almost any long term goal, no matter how big or small it is.

1. Make Goals, Not Wishes

Who hasn’t thought about winning the lottery or inheriting a lot of money from a rich relative? While there is nothing wrong with daydreaming about these things, they are not goals.

A goal should be something that you can work towards during a period of time, not something that falls into your lap through luck.

A goal is “I want to have a business that makes one million dollars a year within five years,” not “I want to win the mega millions within five years.”

2. Be Specific

Remember when you were young and a grown up would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

No one ever said I want to work in the medical field or in government. You said I want to be a doctor, the President, or a policeman. These were specific goals that we had as kids, and while most of us didn’t end up astronauts or presidents, we still pictured ourselves in these very specific roles.

When you are setting long term goals for your life and career, it’s important to be as specific as possible. Get into detail about what you want, and think about it in very concrete terms.

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Instead of saying “In five years, I want to be rich,” think about what that really means to you and what it would look like. Having a more specific goal would be, “In five years I want to own a Ferrari, live in an upscale neighborhood, and be making enough money to take a two week vacation to Europe every year.”

Having specific goals makes measuring your progress more easily. You know you reached you goal to have a Ferrari if you look in the garage and see one. It’s much harder to gauge if you are “rich,” as rich is always a moving target.

3. Write Down Your Goals

A goal that’s not written down is just a wish. Please do not neglect this step!

As humans, we are prone to daydreaming and wishful thinking. We need to take concrete steps to realize our goals.

When you set long term goals, you need to write them down. This single act will take your goal out of the realm of the mind and into the physical (real) world[2].

Just by taking this step, your odds of achieving your goal go up tremendously.

4. Break Down Your Long Term Goal Into Smaller Goals

It can seem overwhelming to say, “In five years, I’ll have a business that makes one million dollars per year.”

How do you get from not having a business at all to having one that makes a million dollars per year? The answer is the same way you’d eat an elephantone bite at a time.

Once you have decided on your long term goals, you’ll then need to break them down into a series of short term goals.

In our business example, you’ll first need to do some research on a business you can start in your spare time. There are a lot of options out there that don’t necessarily take a lot of time or money to get started.

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Then, you’ll want to get competent in the business by taking training courses and networking with others who are already successful in the business.

Once you have a good foundation, it’s time to get started. Launching the business will be the scariest and most rewarding day of your life, but you’re still not close to making a million dollars per year, so break it down some more.

Your first-year goal may be to earn $50,000. Your second year, you’ll want to earn $150,000. From there, you’ll basically need it to double each year in order to reach one million dollars in five years. 

Each of those years can be broken down into smaller goals until you realize you need to make $149 per day. You can break it down even further to say you need three sales per day to make the $149.

At first, you may have no sales, but by experimenting with various marketing strategies that you learned earlier, the sales will start coming in. Then, it’s just a matter of fine tuning your marketing efforts and building on your successes.

5. Remember Your Long Term Goals

You have set your long term goals and even written them down.

Now, don’t just put them in a drawer. We need to have a constant reminder of why we are doing this. Your long term goals should be displayed somewhere prominent (for you). You don’t need to hang them over the fireplace, but they should be placed where you can see them every day.

Things go wrong, and issues and problems arise that no one can see. It’s during these times that remembering your long term goals is important.

6. Reevaluate and Adjust

You should always be looking for ways to improve what you are doing, but it’s especially important in this new internet age. We don’t have to look very far to see how quickly things can change. You must be willing to change course or be left behind.

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Setting long term goals

    Getting back to your growing business, the marketing that got you to $600,000 per year might not be the marketing that gets you to your long term goal of one million dollars per year.

    Always keep your goal in mind, but always be willing to adjust course to get to it.

    7. Don’t Give up

    Realize and understand that the road to success is never straight. You will inevitably come up against obstacles and barriers to your goals. This is not the time to quit.

    In fact, coping with the obstacle or finding a way around the barrier leads to more success than anticipated. Always remember, the only sure way to fail is to quit.

    You can learn more on how to overcome challenges you may face in this article.

    Final Thoughts

    Fear of failure

    is the number one reason most people will never become as successful as they could be. Change is a scary thing, and it’s not easy for people to get out of their comfort zone. Most people won’t unless they have to or they perceive that the reward is worth the risk.

    By setting long term goals and then breaking them down into smaller goals that are easily achievable, you have created your own personalized road map to success.

    And while that long term goal of making a million dollars a year seems insurmountable, the short term goal of making $149 is easily doable.

    While the road to achieving your goals is never a straight line, and there will always be detours and bumps in the road, embrace these things, as they are all part of the journey.

    More Tips on Setting and Achieving Goals

    Featured photo credit: Bench Accounting via unsplash.com

    Reference

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