It’s rare to make it through an entire career without ever having a bad job, but there’s a big difference between a boring gig and a soul-crusher. The former is a stepping stone to something else; the latter can affect your attitude toward your specific career and the working world in general. Hang on long enough, or endure too much, and it can even make you sick.
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“…[T]o a lot of people this is just the way things are,” writes Alexander Kjeulf at The Huffington Post. “Once when I was in the U.S. to do a speech, a young man told me that, ‘Of course I hate my job — that’s why they pay me to do it.'”
The idea that sacrifice breeds success is ingrained in our culture, and to a certain extent, that’s true: if you don’t put in the hours at the office, not to mention what often amounts to years training to do your job in the first place, you won’t get very far. But that sacrifice should have a limit. Stay too long in a job you hate, and your health could suffer in several specific ways:
1. Stress can literally kill you.
According to WedMD, prolonged stress can increase the risk of developing several conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and asthma. It can also worsen your symptoms, if you’re already sick.
Heart disease alone is 68 percent more likely to be found in stressed workers. What’s more stressful than hating your job?
2. Stress can kill brain cells.
Ever have a job you hate so much, you feel like it’s leaching IQ points right out of your brain? Well, that might be a stretch. But in animal studies, scientists have found that socially stressful situations destroy new neurons in the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with memory and emotion.
3. Stress can breed more stress.
Your bad job might be stressful because of the conditions that made you hate in the first place — an ineffective or unsympathetic manager, duties that aren’t a good fit for your personality, or a corporate structure that makes it harder to get ahead. Soon, however, you’ll start to hate your job because of the stress itself, which in turn might make you worse at performing your duties, which further hampers your success, causing more stress and so on.
Once you’re in this situation, the best thing you can do is to get out. That’s easier said than done — most of us can’t just quit a job, no matter how terrible it is.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to make a commitment to yourself to spend some time every day doing things that will help you get a new job. Redo your resume. Connect with old co-workers on LinkedIn. Take a class or work with another department to pick up new skills.
Do whatever you can get out, but make getting out the goal. You deserve better from your job and your life.
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