As a career coach and mentor I have met and worked with many people who described themselves as bored at work; felt stuck and miserable and often expressed a desire for more. They felt stuck and miserable – yet they stayed. Over the years, I have heard all sorts of stories and reasons why people stay and some remind me of my own.
The promise of a career leap turned out to be a wrong turn. There were times when the work was motivating and I was happy and productive. Other times, it felt like it something wasn’t working like it should. Even a once- perfect job changed dramatically for the worse. When this happened I asked myself – should I stay or move on?
These question confront us with our fears, excuses and perceived barriers. We stay stuck in positions that no longer fit, in workplaces we no longer like, doing work with people that make life hard.
And so we stay.
We spend over half our available time at work – and this doesn’t even include all the additional hours at work getting that project across the line, time spent thinking about work, time commuting; not to mention all the hours spent complaining about work to just about anyone who will listen. It is well known, half the workforce are dissatisfied and demotivated. The personal cost for this comes with increased levels of stress, deterioration in overall well being and negative impacts on relationships.
So why stay when you are stuck, miserable and hate your job?
While there are many reasons for hating a job, there are just as many for staying. Here are some of the most common:
The Golden Handcuffs
If you have been in a job for any length of time, you are likely to be earning a higher than average salary and changing jobs could mean a lifestyle change that you are reluctant to embrace.
You will lose status when you move on.
Starting Over Means
Losing those relationships and close bonds forged with your colleagues.
Loss of benefits like accrued leave (either annual entitlements or long service leave).
A steep learning curve as you come to grips with the ins and outs of how things are done in the new company.
Having to develop relationships and establish credibility with your new coworkers and your new bosses.
It all feels like hard work.
It’s just easier to stay. We are all great at weighing up the benefits of staying against the discomfort of change.
A new role in a different company could mean a different or longer commute. The hours of work may change or there is less flexibility and more demand on your time.
The new location may impact on your family.
These things mean staying can be more comfortable. At least in the short term.
No Career Strategy
Even though we are dissatisfied and demotivated, we do not know where to from here.
This makes changing jobs or careers even more challenging.
When we don’t know what we want, we stay with what we know – even if we are extremely unhappy.
Fear and Lack of Confidence
When we stay in roles for a long time, we lose confidence that we can compete with those on the job market. If we are older, we may fear competing with younger people who all seem so much more energetic and savvy.
We often fear:
- our skills and expertise have eroded and we are no longer attractive to prospective employers.
- the steep learning curve.
- the loss of status that comes with our current position.
- that leaving may be showing a lack of loyalty and that we are letting our current work colleagues and employer down by deserting them for greener pastures.
Here’s Why These Excuses Won’t Work
Work becomes more difficult when you are stuck and miserable. Your dissatisfaction, bitterness and resentment negatively impacts on other areas of your life. Even if you do make the effort, this underlying unhappiness infects how you come across. When you feel anxious, depressed or lack confidence, it is difficult to project confidence, warmth and motivation .
There are some compelling reasons that it’s time to move on. Staying may compromise your:
- reputation and career
- relationships (work colleagues, friends and family)
- self respect
If you are unhappy, chances are, so is your employer. Staying when you are not showing up as the best you can be at work is obvious to those around you. You may end up losing the trust and respect of your boss. In an attempt to re-engage you, your boss may institute performance improvement protocols. Or, worse still, you may find yourself sidelined. This deterioration of your work relationship may end up in leaving on terms that are not your own.
Wouldn’t it be better to make that choice yourself?
If you are harbouring some vision or ideas for a sea-change in your life and are stuck or have no idea what to do to make it come to life, then talk to me I might be able to help.