I write about financial independence here fairly often. I do so because I truly believe that obtaining it (and the wonderful gift of time that it provides) can give us an opportunity to become the best version of ourselves that we can be. Or, at least a moderately less crappy version. ;-)
And if we’re being totally honest here, our jobs can really suck. They can provide a steady stream of mind-numbing boredom and monotony, back-stabbing closed-door politics, painful 1984’ish level jargon, soul-crushing conformity, chest-constricting stress, headache-inducing managerial incompetence, physical pain, long overdue promotions and pay raises, jerk-store clients, and never-ending re-orgs – all in the same freaking week.
Whether it’s yet another mandatory team bonding event with the same people you already spend 50 hours a week with or fumbling your way through another quarterly performance review where you have to invent new ways to position the same strengths and “areas of improvement” for the dozenth time – there are those moments where every employee utters under their breath, “F$@#. This.“.
It’s reasons like these (and many more) that most millennials hate their jobs (and more broadly, most Americans). We’re overworked and over-stressed. And most jobs aren’t providing the meaning, purpose, and pay that we had hoped for.
As a result, most millennials don’t stay with their employers for more than 2 years, and just about everywhere you turn online these days, you’ll find millennials who have never faced serious headwinds outside of work in their entire lives recommending that you quit your job, become your own boss, and find your true self. And many of those articles will surely have resonated with you, just as they have with me (it’s no coincidence that a majority of Americans want to be self-employed).
Despite all of this, I want to offer a contrary counter-take: Don’t quit a job just because you don’t like it.
Let’s unpack that. I am NOT recommending that you:
- slog through a toxic work environment that is putting you in therapy and on meds.
- avoid leaping into uncharted waters to challenge yourself with new responsibilities.
- stop seeking more promising opportunities to move to.
- never leave the world of wage slavery.
To the contrary, you should work to change all of those things either by actively seeking to change the status quo at your existing employer, finding a new employer, making a well-reasoned jump to self-employment, or achieving financial independence. But to run away from a job without having a plan, sizeable net worth, or promising secondary income to ease the transition into self-employment or a new career? That’s not the ticket.
Here’s a sobering dose of reality: work is all about getting paid to do stuff that others do not want to do for free. And as such, a majority of the time it can be difficult, boring, monotonous, painful, stressful, and unrewarding. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from it, benefit from it, grow from it, find good moments, and ultimately move towards and then truly appreciate finding yourself in a better situation in subsequent gigs.
I’ve seen far far too many of my new grad colleagues get frustrated and quickly leave what tens of millions of their fellow Americans would call a “great job” only to find themselves with more school debt or in a significantly worse job situation because they weren’t truly ready or qualified to make the leap to something else. Perspective sometimes only comes after loss. The grass isn’t always greener.
So don’t quit your job because you don’t like it and want to run away from it. Quit your job because you’re confident that whatever you’re running to next is better and you’re ready to succeed.