Toxic Jobs

I recently came across a tweet that said, “We need to start talking about toxic jobs.” Before reading this, I’d never thought of a job as having the potential to be toxic. We’ve all heard of toxic relationships yes, but toxic jobs. Could our job really be bad for us? Does the daily grind do daily damage? Are we harming ourselves in the pursuit of our next pay check? I decided to look at the facts and I couldn’t believe what I discovered.

Over 85% of people worldwide claim to hate their jobs with many people claiming they are, “miserable” at work. But, hold up. The average person spends 90,000 hours of their lifetime working and we’re spending that time being miserable? And what’s even more shocking again is that there are people dropping dead at their desks every day from what has been termed, “Over work death.” How the hell did we get into this mess?

Remember your childhood

I’ve been trying to figure out how this happens to people. How do so many of us wind up in jobs we can’t stand? Do you remember when you were a kid and you had so many thing you wanted to do with your life and so many careers you wanted. I know when I was little I really wanted to be a vet and a doctor and a teacher and a writer, (well that one stayed with me at least).

But when I left university I had zero clue what I wanted to do for a living. I had no idea what I was passionate about or what I was interested in. So, what happened? When did I lose all those aspirations? Where did they go? How did I let that happen and why? Was it because I grew up and lost all that energy and imagination associated with childhood? Or was it because I was working so hard all the time that I fell into the existing rather than living trap and lost all sense of self?

The Sticking Point

For me, the sticking point is the moment when we lose sight of all the aspirations we had for our future career and wind up in occupational limbo. Where was my sticking point? It’s hard to say for sure. But I think it would have been when I was about 16 and I was doing my GCSEs. Suddenly, it wasn’t about getting a great career in an industry that excited me anymore. Suddenly, it was all about grades. Grades, grades and more grades. Nothing else mattered but the letters on the results slip. “These grades will define your future,” or at least that’s how it was portrayed to me.

The reality is the brain struggles to retain information it doesn’t use. It’s the classic “use it or lose it,” scenario. So if we switch our focus entirely onto marks and grades and away from building our dream career, by the time we’ve left school or university our brain has forgotten what the image of our ideal career looks like or how to achieve it.

So many of us come out of the education system with no idea what to do next. We’re like a blank page and what does society do with a blank page? It imprints it’s stereotypes and conventions and rules on it and we go with it because at that stage we don’t know any different;

“There are a handful of careers you can choose from. You must pick one. You must work a 9-5 every day in a boring office job that leaves you physically and mentally drained. You must get a job where you work for 11 months of the year for one month of leave with pay. You must be prepared to work late nights and work weekends at the detriment of your relationships and you’re going to accept that there’s a very good chance you’re going to be doing all this for a company that would replace you tomorrow if you dropped dead today.”

Feeling the desire to throw something at your screen yet?

Enough!

So how can we change this? How can we get our aspirations back and get into jobs that we love? I’m going to be offering some practical advice that you can begin to implement today that will help you get out of that job you hate, not today, but in the very near future. So let’s find you that job you’re going to love;

1 Find you passions-I’m not going to spend too long addressing this point as I already have in one of my previous posts- Careers, Passions and the Dopamine Movement. If you want to guarantee you’ll find a career you enjoy, find one that is rooted in your passions. If you don’t know what your passions or interests are please go and check out that post. Based on all the lovely comments I received on it, I know other people found it helpful.

2 Start a Side Project– This is key. Make sure you are using your free time to get the ball rolling to help you get out of your current, crappy job and into one you enjoy. Don’t just spend your evenings on Netflix and your weekends at the pub. Use your free time to build on your professional portfolio. That might be starting a blog, designing a new website for that business idea you’ve been sitting on for months or doing an online course that’s going to help you break into the industry you want to get into. Remember, you are never too old to start something new and you are never too old to learn.

3 Use your Contacts– They do say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know and, in fairness, this isn’t a lie.  Approximately 85% of people land their jobs through networking with others so make good use of the people around you. Start by making your friends, family and other acquaintances aware that you’re looking for work in a certain field. You never know what could come of it.

After that, look out for networking opportunities and events you can attend in your area. If you’re interested in working for a particular organisation, reach out to their PR department over Twitter and see if they have anything coming up that you could get involved in.

4 Identify your Professional Hero– I believe in aspiring to be oneself but at the same time it doesn’t hurt to have a role model. Think of someone whose career you would love to have then start researching how they got into the position they are in. Watch their interviews and speeches to see what they have to say. Learn from them. Inspire to have a career like theirs but make it better! Make it yours.

My philosophy here is simple. Life is short so don’t waste your time in a job you hate. You can shape your career to be whatever you want it to be so do it. Don’t forget, you can always make more money. You can’t make more time.

With love,

Hannah

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54 Comments Add yours

  1. Sketsketch says:

    Wonderful post! Ever since I was 13 I wanted to become a journalist and thus I joined essay, feature, news writing competitions and anything that can help me build up experience. Now I’m a freshman college student studying, And you know it, BA Journalism. I hope my inspirations and love for this profession will not be winded by ‘College’. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    1. It’s fantastic you know exactly what you want to do as a career and that you’re working so hard to make that dream come true for yourself. My full respect to you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally agree with your philosophy! I did talk about jobs on my blog post as well. about how shitty my previous company was. Thus, I totally feel that term toxic jobs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked the post Ateeqah 🙂

      Like

  3. betterthangoodenough123 says:

    I wish I had figured this out earlier in my career; if you love what you do, the money will follow, and like the old quote says, you’ll never really work a day in your life! Nice post!
    Joan Senio
    Kindness-compassion-and-coaching.com
    @joansenio1

    Like

    1. Glad you liked it Joan 🙂

      Like

  4. Sketsketch says:

    Aww thank you. Well I sometimes doubt myself if I can even do it but people like u (bloggers) strengthen me everyday 🙌. I’m really glad I started blogging (albeit just a month old). Again thank you and you also have my respect 🙋

    Liked by 1 person

  5. itsloulouc says:

    Definitely feel you on this!!!! Great read and lovely tips x

    Like

    1. Thanks so much 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Kristin says:

    There is a lot of truth in this post and certainly a lot to think about.

    Like

    1. Thank you Kristin 🙂

      Like

  7. The side project tip is brilliant. I’ve been teaching for 12 years and I don’t see myself doing it for another 35 years because it’s so draining. So, without putting any pressure on myself, I’ve started looking into other career paths. When I’ve found something I really like I’m take the necessary measures to transition into another career.

    Love xx

    Like

    1. That’s fantastic Kate that you’re making steps to change things for the better. Fair play to you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Steffani says:

    Awesome post! I can totally relate. I have had people tell me well at least you’re paying the bills when I complain that life is way too short for this. Ok yea but this is my life and I feel like it’s a waste to a certain extent. At the very least I refuse to work for a manager who gives me anxiety. Thanks for the tips!

    Like

    1. Glad you liked the post Steffani and I hope everything works out for you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Cat says:

    I fear to end up in a job that it’s killing me slowly, that’s why I’m doing my best to get a job I actually like and want. Great post!

    Like

    1. Glad you enjoyed 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I worked a toxic job and I’m glad I quit. It pushed me to the point of suicide and I am so glad I have the job I do now. I’m full time and doing something I’ve wanted to do since I was a child. I am definitely advocating the whole ‘don’t stay in a job you hate’!

    Melanie || http://www.melaniewithanie.com x

    Like

    1. Thanks for the support Melanie 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Couldn’t agree more! I spent so much time in my teens thinking I had to do a boring job just because people told me to. Now i’m following my dream and perusing the perfect career for me

    Like

    1. That’s fantastic. Well done you 🙂

      Like

  12. Tamie Jones says:

    I really enjoyed this post. Especially the side project advice I think this is where we find our passion.

    Like

    1. Thanks Tamie 🙂

      Like

  13. Imogen Chloe says:

    Wonderful post, I’ve honestly been up in the air about what I wanted to do for years. I did do a journalism qualification and got offered jobs at the end of it but I realised I just wasn’t happy there so changed my path. I’ve definitely had a toxic job before though, I used to work in a supermarket cafe (my summer job in between uni) and honestly I was so miserable and it completely ruined my summer as a result – glad to have moved on. x

    Like

    1. So glad you liked the post 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. mellabellablog says:

    Yes! This totally real and it is one of the reasons I chose to go back to school and to start a blog! Life is too short not to enjoy what you do!

    Like

    1. So glad you liked the post 🙂

      Like

  15. Anna says:

    Great post Hannah! It’s crazy, when you’re young you’re told “you can do or be anything” so you have all these dreams and aspirations and then one day you’re told you can only pick one and you have to do that for the next 50 years before you can retire. Unless you absolutely love your job I think that would cause anyone to go crazy. If only it was easy for everyone to find a job they absolutely love that pays enough to live comfortably right from the beginning.

    Like

    1. That’s the dream isn’t it Anna. Glad you liked the post 🙂

      Like

  16. John Aiwone says:

    In full agreement with your tips and all the comments below. I’ve had a few toxic jobs and fortunately as soon as I’ve realised they were toxic (colleagues turning, customers being awful, managers unfairly harassing me and treating me like dirt) I took off. It’s really takes a toll on you mentally and csn

    I don’t see myself working a 9-5 job. I just don’t like the mundane, repetitive nature of the routine and knowing it’s likely for a company or organisation who doesn’t give a **** for me and my well-being and I’m just there to fill in a space at the workdesk. People forget that having a job is a business exchange that ensures you’re doing enough to pay the bills rather than having more financial freedom. Managers/employers don’t really care about you, they just want you to do what they need to make a profit.

    Right now I’m working part-time as a sports coach at primary schools and enjoy it, especially as it gives me more flexibility. Working with kids and putting a smile on their faces and build relationships with them is a big bonus

    Like

    1. It’s great you’re doing something you love John and I’m glad you liked the post 🙂

      Like

  17. Welcome to In The Thick Of It Blog says:

    Great post. I really enjoy my 9-5 . I do however cover with my son money isnt everything and for him to chose a profession he is passionate about and can stay passionate about.

    Like

    1. So glad you liked the post 🙂

      Like

  18. Great advice here! I especially love your note about starting side projects.

    Like

    1. Glad you enjoyed 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. ruthinrevolt says:

    I do think this is a great post, but often, people are stuck in jobs they hate because they pay the bills. It’s not always possible to create a viable living from something you love. That sucks, but it is a fact of life. I’d be the first person to tell somebody to get out of a job they hate because I’ve experienced the damage it does firsthand, but I think the culture of “if you work hard enough, you can do anything!!” or “follow your dreams” is also quite damaging because it’s not necessarily true. I’d love to live in a world where doing what you love would simultaneously pay the bills, but it’s really not true in a lot of cases. While money isn’t everything, we do need it to get by, unfortunately.

    There’s no harm in exploring other options or making an attempt to pursue a passion as a career, but a lot of people do not have the means to do so. That’s the sad reality of it all.

    Like

    1. I hear what you’re saying Ruth and you’re right it wouldn’t be a good idea not to consider your finances before changing career. Changing your job is a big step for anyone and it should never be done without putting some thought into one’s options 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Caysey says:

    This is ana amazing post! I agree 100% when I was younger I wanted to be a pediatrician or a veterinarian or even a photo journalist. Although I love my current job, I still wish I didn’t lose focus on what my passion is when I started focusing on grades and classes that had not much to do with where I wanted to be.

    Like

    1. Glad you liked the post Caysey 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  21. twoofthemoneofme says:

    Loved this post!
    I really resonated with me when you said “it’s just about grades grades grades”. It’s crazy because my second year of university was all about the grade and of course I lost sight of why I was even there and my results plummeted! It’s got to me until a very wise lady said “not one person has asked me what grade I got in my degree, since I’ve been in employment”.
    Your advice is everything!
    💕

    Like

    1. Thank you so much 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  22. This was such an interesting and relatable post Hannah. I too had heard of toxic relationships before but toxic jobs doesn’t seem as commonly spoken about. I also had never heard of a sticking point before so thank you for introducing that xx

    Annelies | https://thefrugalfrenchie.co.uk

    Like

    1. So glad you liked the post 🙂

      Like

  23. Great post! Very interesting x

    Like

    1. So glad you liked the post 🙂

      Like

  24. TLC says:

    I’m currently in a toxic job and working through the options I have to get out. Rather timely post for me!

    Like

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post and best of luck 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Really interesting post. Personally, I love my business management degree but I just don’t really know what I want to do yet… As soon as I read the title of this article, one job I had came to mind. I was a waitress in a buffet type restaurant, where the managers literally exploited their employees. It was one of my first jobs so it took me a while to realize how bad things were but I’m talking things like giving you only a start time and no finsih time on your shifts (they decided when you could go, which meant you literally couldn’t make plans), not giving tips out to despite having promised to do so, wanting you to work on Christmas day despite this being a university job and having warned them you were heading home to ANOTHER COUNTRY for this period of the year. I used to leave this place crying half the time because we worked such long shifts and the managers made you feel like you owed them and the team something.. Then one day I found a waitressing job in a really nice gastro pub and sicne then, I can’t wait to get back to it. Funny that despite studying a management, for now, my go to job would be waitress/working in catering. But I need to start thinking of how I can push this further and turn it into something greater 🙂

    Like

    1. Well done you for leaving behind that toxic job. It’s takes some really strength and bravery to walk away from something you know is bad for you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Alys says:

    This post is actually incredible. I felt inspired reading this and I don’t say that lightly! I too lost my passions during exams, and I’m really trying to pull them back and stregthen them again so I don’t lose them when I start uni! Loved reading this xx
    Alys
    https://alysjournals.com/

    Like

    1. Thanks so much 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the love 🙂

      Like

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