Spoiler alert: This article alludes to a few plot points from The Circle, so if you want to remain 110% spoiler-free, best to click out now.
By now, you’ve probably seen the trailer for the movie, The Circle, the new thriller based on Dave Eggers’ book of the same name. For reference, it’s about 20-something Mae Holland (Emma Watson), who joins The Circle, one of the largest and most well-respected tech companies. As Mae becomes more involved in the organization, she comes across the benefits—and downsides—to technology getting involved in not just our work lives, but our personal lives, too.
The company described is one that everyone thinks they want to work at: trendy, tech-y, spacious, modern, with amenities like no other (showers, napping pods, unlimited snacks), perks that’ll ensure you’re covered for the rest of your life (from health and wellness to retirement), and a company culture so close you’re basically family.
I mean really, what’s not to love about this kind of workplace?
Well, a lot. Notice that I didn’t bring up anything about an awesome boss, or work-life balance, or even a company mission that lines up with your own values. No amount of free stuff can make up for responsibilities that make you sacrifice what matters to you most.
So, regardless of whether your office has all the luxuries, or just a few snacks, these five not-so-obvious signs are a clear indication that you might be stuck in a toxic job.
1. You’re Choosing Your Co-workers Over Your Friends and Family
It’s awesome to get along with your co-workers, and even better if you’re friends.
That being said, you should have a life outside work—and if you do, you should be spending time in it. (According to science, it can actually define your happiness.)
This means you shouldn’t be prioritizing your colleagues over your friends, and you shouldn’t be constantly canceling family events because of work emergencies.
2. Your Happiness at Work Defines Your Overall Happiness
Nobody will argue that having a good day at work is always better than having a bad one (said Captain Obvious).
However, if your overall happiness depends on how well your boss treats you, or how you’re recognized by your peers, your priorities are spread too thin. And, realistically, you’re never going to be truly happy if you’re relying on the validation of others.
Instead, you need to find happiness by accomplishing your own goals (both in your career and outside the office) and following your own chosen set of core life values.
3. You’re Having Trouble Sleeping
We all know that when we stop sleeping well, there’s usually some reason. Maybe you’re constantly stressing about all the work you have left to do, or your mind is racing with meetings you don’t want to forget, or you’re overthinking that one conversation you had with your boss.
No job’s worth sacrificing your ability to rest and recharge. And, quite frankly, frequent lack of sleep only makes your life—and job—harder.
4. You Can’t Stop Thinking About Work Outside Work
I get it: It’s tough not to think about work when we leave the office, even on vacation. But even people who love what they do know they need to unplug at times.
If there’s no way you can ignore emails or messages from your boss, or you find yourself talking about work with friends more often than not, you’re giving up too much of yourself to your job (and are probably in serious need of a personal day).
5. You’re Setting Up Camp at Your Desk
Your average desk probably has a few vital necessities—a water bottle, office supplies, a stash of snacks, and an extra pair of shoes.
But a major warning sign that your job is taking over your life is when your desk starts to become a full-on living space. Maybe you’re stashing away full outfits or entire toiletry bags, or maybe you’re stocking up your office fridge with meals for the next week. Either way, when you start making your workspace more homey then your, well, home, you’re definitely spending too much time on the job.
The first step in getting out of any toxic environment is recognizing the red flags. If any of these hit home for you (or, The Circle feels uncomfortably familiar), you may be ready to take the leap and find an organization that actually promotes work-life balance—not just pretends to.