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Last Updated on July 4, 2019

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

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

Can I Be Creative?

The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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How Creativity Works

Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

What Really Is Creativity?

Creativity Needs an Intention

Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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Creativity Is a Skill

At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

Start Connecting the Dots

Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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