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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

How to Decide if That One Annoying Thing About Your Job is a Deal Breaker

Everything at your job is great.

Well, almost everything. Except that one thing that drives you crazy.

For me, it was the weekly trip to Sam’s Club, where I had to stock up on mega-sized containers of butter, chocolate chips, flour, and sugar for the bakery I managed—which involved me heaving my full body weight against the cart to get it to move down the aisle.

It may seem silly, but that was my thing—it drove me nuts! And while yours may not be bulk-shopping trips, every job has something that you’re not going to like, whether it’s an annoying boss, annoying co-workers, or annoying responsibilities.

So how do you decide if enough is enough and it’s time to move on to a new opportunity? Start by asking yourself these questions.

Is it Something You Can Change?

Maybe your cube is right next to the co-worker who can’t seem to do anything without having constant dialogue—with you, himself, or anyone who will listen.

The first—and most obvious—question that you need to consider is if you can change the situation. Can you move desks? Wear noise-cancelling headphones? Have a heart-to-heart with your co-worker to explain that you can’t get your work done with his constant yammering?

If you haven’t considered how to remedy the situation in a way that doesn’t involve composing a resignation letter, now’s the time.

There are, of course, things you can’t change—like asking for a raise and being denied four years in a row. Or enduring a boss who’s verbally abusive, despite your constant reports to HR. In those situations, you may have room for serious quitting consideration.

Would it Change if You Worked Somewhere Else?

The grass may look greener from here, but we all know how that ends up. And, honestly, it may not be that different in your situation.

Maybe you work at a small nonprofit and have to take part in the trash-taking-out duties. Switching to another nonprofit likely won’t improve your situation—because small nonprofits generally have small budgets, which means that you’ll likely have to pitch in elsewhere. (And it could be worse—read: bathroom-cleaning duty. Yep, I’ve been there.)

Annoyed that you have a clumsy co-worker who seems to break the printer every time you need to use it? Sorry to break it to you, but there’s a guy like that in every office.

Then again, there are situations where moving could accommodate your issue. Maybe your company won’t give you a raise, for example—but snagging an offer elsewhere would give you the opportunity to negotiate from scratch. Or, maybe your current job requires you to work nonstandard hours (e.g., 11 AM to 7 PM), and you could write standard 9-to-5 hours into a new contract.

But, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be another annoying something (or someone) that pops up in the new gig. You just have to decide where to draw the line.

Apart From This One Thing, Do You Like Your Job?

I know it’s easy to get hooked on that one annoying thing. It becomes that one thing you think about—and complain about—constantly. Even if it’s something that only pops up once a month, you find yourself answering questions about your job with, “Yeah, it’s fine, except they make me take the trash out. Ugh!”

But seriously, step back and look at the bigger picture. Aside from that one thing, do you enjoy your job? Apart from that one co-worker, do get you along with your team? Besides the few hours of busy work you’re required to complete each week, are you challenged by your job?

If it’s something that’s completely stolen any semblance of enjoyment from your everyday life, sure, you may want to consider an escape plan. Otherwise, it may be worth it to focus on the positives and let that one frustration go.

These questions typically illuminate two general, very different situations: You either have a serious workplace issue (like harassment, lack of opportunities to advance, or below average pay), or there is something simply annoying about your workplace (such as an overly chatty boss, a menial responsibility, or a sloppy co-worker).

If you fall into the first category, you probably need to give some serious consideration to a move. But if it’s simply an annoyance, you should realize that every work situation is going to come with its share of aggravating responsibilities and colleagues—and most of the time, you can’t allow it to become a deal breaker.

The better option? Learn how to advocate for yourself in the workplace and confront job frustrations head-on. (Here at The Muse, you can learn how to deal with a too-talkative boss, a lazy co-worker, and “other duties as assigned”—and there’s more where that came from.)

Unless it’s having a significant impact on your work, your success, and your happiness, it’s better to defeat that annoying thing than let it defeat you.

Photo of pencils courtesy of Shutterstock.