Guest Post by Amanda Washburn, Rough Draft Solutions
Hate is a strong word. But sometimes, a job is THAT bad. If it is, you’ve got no business “sticking-it-out.”
Before starting my business, I was stuck in a toxic work environment. I didn’t leave because I didn’t think I could. I became someone I didn't recognize - stressed all the time, negative, and just plain unhappy.
My story isn’t unique. Either you’ve had a miserable job, or you know someone who has. Some people will tell you that you’ll hurt your resume by leaving your job too soon or that going out on your own is too risky. But let’s be honest, sticking with a job you hate isn’t the right answer. Especially if you have a big beautiful side hustle or a stellar business idea just begging for you to pursue it.
This post is for all of you who hate your job and want to go out on your own. You want to start a business, pursue your creative niche, and most of all, you want a career you love. You’ve got passion in your heart and know that given the chance, you could change the world.
If you’re waiting for a sign that it’s time to leave your job and chase your dreams, here are four!
1. You are STRESSED, DISCOURAGED, and UNMOTIVATED
Most of us start a new job with high hopes and bright-eyed ambition. If things go well, we cultivate our eagerness into productivity and create positive connections in our workplace.
But sometimes, a job becomes a big source of stress. Sure, everyone has overwhelming days - that’s normal. But if the stress is constant and unwavering, it will soon wreak havoc on your well-being and life satisfaction.
If the culture of a work environment isn’t positive, your projects are lackluster, and your ideas are constantly squashed, it is easy to become discouraged and unmotivated. For me, I didn’t receive any positive or constructive feedback. Ideas and ambition went unnoticed. After a while, I felt like I was just showing up to make it through the day. If this is the case, you better believe that your confidence and enthusiasm will walk out the door.
In any job, it’s normal to go through low seasons. But when those feelings last for months on end you need to take a hard look at what is going on. Mismanaged stress and a lack of motivation can hinder your work ethic, your personal brand, and your career growth. It’s better to shake things up and get your mojo back!
Do you feel like:
You are focused on getting through the day instead of doing work you love?
Leadership only criticizes, never compliments or encourages you?
You go to bed with a pit in your stomach and wake up with dread in your heart?
You’ve lost control, you’re overwhelmed, and you’re stuck?
There is a lack of direction and focus from your superiors?
You second guess your work and feel like you’re not contributing?
You’re always behind and can never catch up, no matter how much you work?
Your motivation comes back to life when you are away from work, focusing on your passion?!
If you can relate to many of these feelings, it's time to look at your options.
2. The environment is toxic
I never knew what a toxic work environment was until I was in one. As a naturally happy and positive person, I couldn’t imagine ever getting into such a negative situation. I never had a problem with authority and basically got along with everyone. I was a motivated person who gave my best. But sometimes, it isn’t you - it’s them.
During the interview process, everyone usually behaves like they’re on a first date - keeping their bad habits and signs of crazy all tucked in. Unfortunately, most of us don’t realize we are headed toward a job we’ll despise until it is too late.
Most bad jobs are based on dysfunctional leadership and false pretenses. I remember quickly realizing that “flexible” hours just meant that they wanted me to work 10+ hour days and come in on Saturdays.
If you’re a budding entrepreneur with a vision and new ideas, a negative environment can be demoralizing. You truly cannot get out soon enough.
Signs your work environment is toxic:
People in leadership roles are dishonest, unkind, and disruptive
The only feedback provided is inconsistent and critical
The state of the company is in disarray, and staff meetings feel like doomsday - no one knows if they will have a job tomorrow
Turnover is a significant problem - quality people keep leaving
Projects remain unfinished, new directions are given without planning, and there is a lack of follow through
Bullying or threats are seen as okay and part of the “culture”
Anyone who raises a question or feedback is silenced or belittled
Even if you work hard and put in your hours, it’s never seen as enough
While these problems are no fun to deal with, the scary thing is that they may start to rub off on you. Repeated exposure to negativity and dysfunction can permeate your life and shift how you think and behave. Sometimes, the only (and best) thing you can do is remove yourself from the environment.
3. You aren’t moving forward in your career
As someone with big dreams of pursuing your creative passion, one of the most stifling things you can do is stay in a job that isn’t going anywhere.
If you’re working in a company that does not empower you to keep learning, to push the envelope, and move forward in your career, it’s time to do something different. In today’s fast-paced world, you don’t have time to fall behind. We all need to strengthen our skills, learn new techniques, and explore uncharted territory.
When you take the leap into business ownership, you will soon find that you’re constantly learning new things and being pushed to innovate. The key will be to stay focused and to channel your energy.
While there are endless opportunities to learn, you will have to be intentional with how you cultivate growth in your life. Surround yourself with people who encourage, inspire, and challenge you to be better! Listen to podcasts, read books, and attend webinars! It is exceptionally satisfying to invest in yourself and then see it benefit your customers.
4. You’ve got a kick-butt side hustle or business idea
Not everyone has the drive or passion for starting a business. So if you ALREADY have a kick-butt side hustle or a stellar business idea, you have even fewer reasons to stay in a job you hate.
After 14 months of sticking it out, I knew I had to do something different. The prospect of searching for another job did not excite me and I didn’t have a side hustle. I was in my first year of marriage, I didn’t know anybody in my area, and I didn’t have a fully developed plan.
What I did have, however, was a solution that I knew small business owners needed.
Thanks to a stable savings account and my husband’s reliable job, I didn’t have to stress about replacing my income immediately. I made a pros and cons list on a daily basis. And then, I came across this quote and just knew. It was time.
“It's a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you're ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.” - Hugh Laurie
What a beautiful thought. Sometimes we try to put things off for as long as we can, thinking that *someday* it will all come together, the tide will shift, and we will take a leap. But sometimes, you just have to jump. You have to risk it all with the hope of gaining it all back.
Life after I took the leap
Owning a business has been the best chance I’ve ever taken. It has given me my life back (and then some!) and has offered me a level of joy and fulfillment I’ve never known. I’ve even been able to hire four paid interns / part-time team members. The amount of satisfaction I get from creating an environment that encourages, teaches, and inspires others is incredible.
No, not every day is easy, and not every client is rainbows and sunshine, but I am doing work I love. I get to write content for businesses that inspire me. I have complete control in creating a work environment that is positive, encouraging, and fulfilling.
If you hate your job, I want you to know that I understand - I get it. It’s scary, it’s hard, and it’s ridiculously confusing. You don’t want to feel all that negativity. You don’t want to give up. But sometimes, giving up, letting go, and walking away can be the best thing you can do. It’s when you walk away that you can take hold of a new opportunity.
Here’s to not settling, to not staying, and to giving yourself the chance to do work that you love!
About the Author
Amanda Washburn is saving the world from mediocre writing, one business at a time. She is the owner of Rough Draft Solutions - a strategic content creation company specializing in websites, blogs, and newsletters.
Amanda helps small businesses create content that effectively articulates their value and solves their customers’ most frustrating problems. She believes that powerful communication is founded on clear, compelling, and focused writing.