This question has been popping up a lot these days. A lot of people are burnt out in their jobs, possibly because of the heavy work load or from the unnecessary stress brought about by their bosses. As physical as these stressors are, these challenges are usually ignored by the people until they start magnifying the psychological stress that finally pushes the person to begin pondering on the question: “should I leave my job?”
Before everything else, it is important to note that if you need your current job for any practical purpose (ie: financial or immigration purposes), the answer is simple: stay in that job! Of course, no one will stop you from looking for other opportunities while you are pretending to be interested there.
The purpose of my suggestion above is motivated more by practical reasons rather than just fear. I hate having my decisions influenced by fear but this repulsion to it should not detach me from the reality that most people work in order to pay the bills.
Practical and physical factors are easy to process because they provide a black and white answer. In counselling, we open up deeper psychological processes and issues that contribute to decision making. For this matter, I will focus on existential matters; as our work, our occupation, or our jobs are pretty much intertwined with our meaning system.
Is the work still meaningful to you?
Finding happiness at work is important, especially if you plan to be there for the next decade of your life. Enjoyment and satisfaction in your job will easily follow once you dedicate yourself to tasks which fulfill your existential needs. This means that your job gets you closer to your life targets and goals.
I have to emphasize that finding meaning and fulfillment is a highly subjective process. Say some people will find travelling tiring and troublesome while for some, it is exhilarating for them to see new places and meet new people. So, know yourself and know your goals! You will be spending your life working towards it.
You will know if your psychological needs are met as there will be times when you would feel accomplished and even refreshed after a day’s work (or after a work week). You come home and process the day willingly knowing that what you did for the day, whether pleasurable or not, truly mattered (as opposed to people who rush home or to the pub to forget everything). After a whole time of toiling and sowing, you know this work was worth it.
On the other side of the coin, if this job feels robotic and automatic, then it probably has deprived you of other opportunities for life and growth. This job has been wasting your time and talents. You are better off in another job that would get you closer to your real goals in life. So, if you do not experience that refreshed feeling and the pride of having accomplished something for your entire stay there, then leave this job.
On a similar note, let me rephrase the question above by asking: am I still growing and developing in this job?
Being burnt out and feeling that a job has sapped the life out of you is easy to detect. Stagnation, however, is a subtle process that usually escapes our radars. There is this danger that we are probably in this phase without us knowing.
Would you rather be the farmer above or this lady here?
If you feel that the job you’re in is ‘dumbing you down’, or worse, that this job is ‘cheapening you’, then listen and trust your instincts. This job is holding you back as you have become bigger than the job you once had. The position you were once in was not able to grow and develop as fast as you have. It is time to go to the next level without these existing baggages.
Deciding to quit or to stay in one’s job is an easy process once you have let go of the fears that cloud your judgment. Fearful thoughts like: “who will hire me next? Or where will I go? What value do I have?” are immaterial as you will have to leave your job if the job is no longer fulfilling your needs. You are not leaving your job because there’s a better one; you are simply leaving your job because it no longer contributes to your goals.
As I always tell my students, your job is what you will spend half your life on. So, make sure you love it!
Here are some suggestions on how to go on about this:
1. Explore the meaning system and determine if the current job is still bringing you closer to it.
2. Explore the fears that are holding you back from moving forward.
3. Explore and be more aware of your true worth and stay away from places that will hold you back.
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