The other day I was having a coffee chat with an old friend of mine.
We talked about life, careers, and how much we hate our jobs.
And while we have been switching through multiple jobs and career options in our paths, changing jobs feels like we are just jumping from one hell to another.
What a devastating thought.
Since when work becomes a torture, a slavery, instead of a way for us to contribute to the greater good in the “help you, help me” way?
And if you think it is only an issue just for millennials, think again.
According to Gallup’s most recent research, the 2017 State of the Global Workplace, 85% of employees worldwide are not engaged or are actively disengaged in their job. That is, the percentage of adults who work full time for an employer and are engaged at work — they are highly involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace — is just 15%.
And for where I live and work i.e. Hong Kong? Only a crying 5% are really engaged as an employee.
No wonder we see so many walking zombies on the street or in the metro during peak commute hours.
And then there are people who hate EVERY job they had.
Does that sound like you? The typical job misery cycle could look like this:
- You start feeling miserable at work, because of either the horrible boss, the boring job duties, the overwhelming workload or for whatever reasons that make sense to them
- Even though you resist, you drag themselves out of bed every morning because you still NEED that job to pay your bills
- You start closely monitoring job boards and sending out tons of applications, religiously waiting for calls
- You are not performing well at work, and people can notice it and could be vocal about it
- You feel even worse until you reach a point where you cannot stand it anymore
- You take the next job offer you can get, not because you are confident that it would be a good fit for you this time, but just to ESCAPE from your current one soonest
- At your new job, you start to realize a similar pattern of problems and issues reoccurring…..
You might then start to wonder if themselves are the root of all the problems they face.Why would that happen? Is that just bad karma?
So Is There Something Wrong With You?
Yes and No.
As many organizational development specialists have suggested, something has to be changed for the currently dysfunctioning workplace to make it more humanize and effective again. A lot of paradigm shifts and enormous changes from the top have to happen.
On an individual level, let’s begin with what we can change first – ourselves.
The above vicious cycle is a typical blindfolded job hopping where we make changes in a state of REACTING to whatever comes up in life.
What if we clarify with what we want from work, first and foremost, before any job search activities happen?
Step 1: Asking the WHAT questions
A very common career mistake people made is, you know what you DON’T want, so you make the shift drastically to the total opposite. Like going from an investment banker to work for the non-profits.
When you are overoptimistic about the total opposite of what you hate most, it is very difficult for you to manage your expectations in a realistic level.
So let’s go back to ground level, and begin by asking,“Imagine you are now working in your dream job; What engages you at work?”
- What problems are you helping to solve?
- What strengths are you using?
- Who do you work with?
- Who do you serve?
- What type of job content are you working on?
- When and where are you working?
- How is the pay for work structured? And how much is a fair amount?
Step 2: Do you really understand HOW you want to work?
You can be in an occupation that you find meaningful, fits your strengths and curiosity, and pays well, but still feel like something is missing.
This happens when you are in the right occupation, but working in an organisation culture and mode of work that is non-aligned with your core emotional needs from work.
So if we haven’t realised what we really want, keep changing employers cannot solve the root of the issue.
Take this 12-question quiz to find out your strongest emotional needs from work.
Step 3: Why you are doing what you do?
Your WHY is the fuel that keeps you going even when things get tough. It could be a meaning cause you believe in, a future vision which you ‘d love to bring into reality, or doing something supportive for your community, loved ones, and personal goals.
An effective reflection exercise to help you find your ultimate why is, asking “why” 7 times to drill down from your surface level reasons to your core motivation.
Why you do what you do – to start a passion project besides a full-time job?
- I feel bored at my current job. I want to try something else. —> Why?
- So I feel more alive, and less like a robot. –> Why?
- Because I am a creative person by nature. —> Why?
- I have a strong curiosity to many different topics, and I can easily connect the dots in newfound ways. —>Why?
- I have some many ideas, and I need an expression outlet. —> Why?
- So I feel seen and heard. —>Why?
- So what I have to say matters. And I matter.
See the magic here? Go now and try this exercise!
So to answer your question: “I hate every job I had; Is there something wrong with me?”
Ask yourself if you truly understand yourself enough, so that you are making choices in alignment with who you are.