How Do You Know If You Need A Career Shift? Is Your Job Impacting Your Mental Health?
By: Sarah Fader
Updated May 19, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn
Did you know that 51% of Americans who are employed in a full-time capacity indicated that they were uninterested in their jobs? That's according to a 2017 study by Gallup, who also found that 16% of those Americans disliked their workplace but decided to stay. Why would you stay in a job that you hate? The answer, of course, is financial security, and likely, fear. However, you're not doing yourself any favors by staying in a job that you hate - even if you think that you are in terms of finances or benefits - because it's going to worsen your mental health. So, maybe you need a career shift. How do you know, and what do you do when you need a career shift?
Mental Health and Hating Your Job
When you're miserable at work, you're going to struggle daily; the thought of going to your workplace fills you with dread. It's going to be difficult for you to function and succeed in your position. Many people in this position find that they experience troublesome mental health effects as a result of this such as panic attacks or anxiety about going to work, insomnia, and even depression. During your time at work, you may feel sick with nervousness or sadness about being there. The longer you stay in that job, the more it'll affect your mind and body, and that's not something to overlook. Being in a miserable workplace affects your whole physical and emotional being. The truth is that our brains naturally experience a tendency to hang onto negative things, and that can be worrisome. That's why reframing the automatic negative thoughts we have is crucial. Let's learn more about that.
Negativity Sticks to Your Brain
Did you know that when your mind hears a negative statement it latches on to it? For example, when you say, "don't forget to lock the door," your mind deletes the word "don't" and hears "forget to lock the door." That's why it's important to say, "remember to lock the door." According to a variety of studies, our brains tend to gravitate towards negative things. This is especially true for those with mental illness, so if you have a mental health condition and you're in a job that you hate, it is even more difficult to get out of that slump and remain positive. If you find that you're miserable in the workplace, it's extremely important that you make the decision to make a career shift and get out of your present situation. But, how do you make that choice and stick to it? It's something that you'll have to dedicate yourself to because your mental health matters and there's no reason to keep going to a job that you hate long-term.
Having Trouble Leaving a Bad Job
Life can be expensive, and that's why many people stay at a job they don't like. However, you don't have to suffer needlessly. When you're in a job that you dislike and you can't see the end of the tunnel, it's hard for you to get out of the situation because you don't see any hope. People stay in bad situations because they don't see any other alternative, but there are other choices out there. People change jobs or careers all of the time; it's just a matter of what your own timeline will be.
You need to believe in it. In order to get out of a job that you hate, you have to imagine that there's a job that you're going to love, and have faith that it does exist. You need to believe that a better situation is out there for you so that you can remain open to people and opportunities as they come along. Keep checking job boards, keep applying, and keep honing your options. You've got to have faith that if you make an effort, you'll get out of the job that you hate and make the right career shift.
Fear of Leaving a Bad Job
Some people may fear leaving an awful job because it gives them health insurance, because it supports their family, or maybe they think that they can't do anything else to support themselves. Maybe they feel like they're only versed in one field or one skill. The truth is that we're always learning in life and there are a number of ways to develop new skills. Some people start their career shift by taking classes at a vocational or community college while they work their current job.
Although this isn't feasible for everyone, it is a route that a lot of individuals take. Many employers offer classes or training to new employees. If you're dealing with anxiety about leaving your job and are overwhelmed at the thought of it, you might consider seeing a mental health professional. That way, you can express your concerns and you'll have an outlet to talk about your current situation as well.
Fear of Asking for Accommodations
When you have a mental illness, work can be a challenging place to ask for what you need. You might want particular accommodations for your position, yet be fearful to speak up. The reason for keeping silent is that many people are afraid their supervisor won't understand or worse, they will be terminated for asking for what they need. People with mental health issues are sometimes afraid of being fired if they express that they have a mental illness, which is something else that can hinder people from leaving a job that they dislike. They're hiding their mental illness and feel like they have to conform to a place where they don't fit in. When people are afraid to ask for the accommodations that they need, they may be undergoing additional stress. They may feel hopeless and trapped in a situation where they feel stigmatized, overwhelmed, and misunderstood. The same is true for those living with other disabilities such as physical disabilities.
Leaving Your Job Strategically
In order to leave your job, you need to do it in a strategic way. You may still be grappling with if it's the right decision or not. One strategic way to begin your career shift is to start thinking about why you should leave your job; technically, there's no "should," but let's go through some of the reasons that you might want or need to leave your position:
- You're not using your skill set. You might want to contribute something specific to the workplace by using your skill set, but maybe your employer isn't able to use them in a way that makes you feel fulfilled. You might have a lot of things to bring to a job that you're not actually able to because your employer isn't able to help you with your goals. Maybe, you're a great candidate for a promotion, but you don't get it, or your work is simple and unchallenging. There's more that you could be doing, but you're being held back. This is one reason that you could pursue a career shift.
- You have a supervisor that you don't get along with and find that they're hard to deal with. Not all supervisors will be your best friend, and that's okay, but some employers and work environments are truly toxic. If you feel that you're being pigeonholed as someone who is difficult or if your supervisor is someone who doesn't listen to you, doesn't understand you, makes rude comments towards you, or is nasty towards you or your co-workers, that's a valid reason for you to want to move on.
- You're not following your dreams. Maybe you have a vision for yourself, and you have reasonable goals, but you're not able to fulfill these objectives at your current job. That's a reason to make a career shift. You only have one life, and it's important to consider your mental health, because if you are doing something that feels productive and rewarding to you, you'll be a happier person overall.
- The company is getting ready to go under. If your company isn't doing well, there's definitely a reason to start looking for another job. You've already seen the writing on the wall that the company won't exist, so why would you stay there? Put on your oxygen mask and put yourself first; get out of that job sooner rather than later because you already know what's coming and you want to make sure to take care of yourself and your own life.
- You don't align with the company's morals. If you feel that a company is morally corrupt, you don't need to be working for that company. You'll find that you feel sick going along with something that you feel is unjust, and if that's what you're experiencing, you don't have to stay there. Find something that suits your ethics and you'll start feeling better faster.
There are so many reasons to get out of a job that you hate. The bottom line is that you need to look inward and find the path that's right for you.
Following Your Dreams
Many of us have visions for the future, and if your job doesn't fit into those objectives, it could be time to consider leaving it. Maybe you don't know what you want to do with your life, and that's okay. Perhaps you're concerned about making a career shift because you know that you don't like what you're doing but don't know what you're good at. There are a ton of skill assessments that you can find online that'll tell you about yourself and help you figure out some potential career options.
A popular example of this is the MBTI test, which is easily searchable on the internet. Start exploring your options - think about what you like and dislike in the workplace, what hours you'd like to work during the day, if you prefer to be around people or work alone, if you need to be on your feet or if you require a more sedentary position, and so on. These are all things that can inform you about what career you want to pursue next and what will be sustainable long-term. Maybe, you do have a clear idea of what your strengths and dreams are, and if that's the case, you can start pursuing those. Regardless of where you're at, there's no harm in talking to someone about work-related issues because they can give you additional insight and help you move toward a career shift in a smooth fashion.
Online Therapy Can Help You Get to Where You Need to Go in Life
When you talk to an online therapist, you'll find that it's a great way to find the listening ear that you need so that you can better understand your hopes and goals for the future as well as how to pursue them. An online therapist cares, and they want to see you fulfill your dreams. The online therapists at BetterHelp are extremely skilled at listening and helping you get it so search the network of mental health professionals at BetterHelp and don't be afraid of making a career shift; they'll help you take the steps that you need to take to find a job that you like or even one that you love. There is hope, and you don't need to stay at a dead-end job.