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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work-Life Balance

Is Your Job Worth Salvaging?

Is your job getting you down? We’ve all been there. The Sunday night blues, that sinking feeling when you wake up on a Monday (and Tuesday, and Wednesday) and feel like you’re going nowhere fast.

But how do you know if your current unhappiness is a temporary blip that can be fixed—or if it’s something more fundamental that means it’s time to move on?

The short answer is, it depends on the situation. To get you started, here are a few key times you can probably hack your job and turn it in to something better—and a few it might be time to sack it.

Hack It: You’re Bored Out of Your Mind

You like your company and the prospects are good—but your current job is deathly dull. Yes, you could play the long game, prove yourself, be a reliable (if slightly plodding) employee who might eventually be noticed by the team at the top, but that could be a long time coming.

In this case, you can and should hack your career. Think about how to get where you want faster. Don’t sit there grumbling about the lack of innovation—get innovative yourself! Don’t ask for permission—be proactive, get it done, and then sit back as everyone around you marvels at your genius (ideally).

Or, if you’re not getting the opportunities you think you should be, stop waiting for permission and do it yourself. Want to be a writer but your company can’t picture it? Start a kickass blog and show them how good you really are.

Sack It: There’s Absolutely No Room for Growth

If you’ve tried the hack and it hasn’t quite worked out, or you’re truly at the top of that particular tree, then it’s probably time to sack it. I’ve had jobs I’ve loved, with amazing colleagues, a great social scene, and a decent salary. But I’ve moved on because, if you’re not growing, you’re stagnating. If you’re not gathering knowledge and skills as the years go by, you’re never going to be able to compete in the job market, should the worst happen and you find yourself out of work. So, if you’re banging your head on a metaphorical brick wall, sack it.

Hack It: TPS Reports Are Slowly Killing You

Is it one process in particular, or one part of a process that’s sucking the joy out of your job? I’m generally pretty Process Intolerant (that’s a medical term, you know) and I’ll only put up with following processes step-by-step if it’s really necessary or it’s something that makes our customers happy. But if it’s a box-ticking exercise with no real tangible benefit, forget it.

So, hack it. Look at the process end to end, work out what’s truly necessary, what’s important, and what’s just one piece of paper on your desk too far. And once you’ve worked out where to trim the process, take it to your boss. As long as you have sound reasoning and there’s no major fall-out from removing part of the process, then as far as I can see, it’s a win-win. On that note:

Sack It: Your Boss is the Worst

It’s often said that people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their manager. And there is so much to be said for a good employee-manager relationship. I’m lucky in that my boss is someone just like me, a working mum, busy, extraverted, and with a real passion for what we’re doing. But in the past, when I’ve had bosses who were remote, who lacked direction, or who micro-managed the passion right out of me, that’s when I’ve moved on.

You know, life is far too short to let someone else define your limits—if you know you can do more, better, faster, go and do it in a company where you’ll be rewarded, applauded and occasionally thanked (with cake, hopefully).

Hack it: Your Work-Life Balance is Out of Whack

Right out of college, I found a job I loved; it energized me, and I was good at it. But, the hours were awful, and it pretty much killed my social life at the tender age of 24. I needed my life back!

And that’s the hack. If you love what you do, but not what it’s doing to your work-life balance, you need to work out how to fix that. Maybe it’s having a long talk with your boss about your workload, passing some responsibilities to a colleague with a less onerous plate, asking for a flexible schedule, or just setting some boundaries. But if it’s unsustainable, make sure you get the change you need. Otherwise, you could end up feeling kind of negative about a job you once loved. Speaking of which:

Sack It: There’s Negativity All Around You

You should never, ever, put up with being made to be unhappy at work. If you work in a company where you feel you’ll never fit in, where there’s gossip and office bitching, where your approach to things is being forever criticized—sack it. Sack it today! (OK, maybe not today. But soon.) Your workplace should never leave you feeling utterly miserable, lonely, or questioning your abilities. If that sounds familiar, check out the The Muse’s jobs page this instant—that’s an order.

Only you know if it’s time to hack it or sack it. But once you’ve analyzed your situation and made your decision is made, get going! Life is short, but boring days in the office can seem long. There’s no time to waste when it comes to being happy at work.

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