Selling off the best hours of the best years of your life is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make (and remake).
Assuming you aren’t independently wealthy, it’s likely you need to do some sort of work-for-money exchange. Many of us working in tech and design have the incredible privilege of doing work we enjoy – even love – with the added bonus of extremely competitive pay. Maybe that should be enough… except it isn’t for me and maybe it isn’t for you.
This may be incredibly privileged and “millennial” (likely). However, I’m of the mindset that I want it all. I want the job I love, for great pay, with some semblance of work/life balance, because that enables me to live the life I want to lead. Isn’t that the point of working? If we’re going to trade away our time, skills, mind, and body, shouldn’t we do our best to create the most optimal working situation for ourselves? All this to say, I believe you owe it to yourself to work toward creating the best workplace situation you can for yourself. In my experience that takes a long time, a shit ton of work, and a lot of trial and error.
Now that I’m eleven years into my career, I’ve seen a lot of folks screw the pooch on stuff like this. The most common situation I see is people staying somewhere too long. Folks get apathetic or complacent, thinking, “This is good enough, I guess…” or fear of the unknown and fear of rejection keep people from exploring their options. Whatever the case, it’s easiest to maintain the status quo – putting your head down, doing your job, and swallowing a ton of bullshit. I’ve done all of this and more, over-staying my first job by at least 3 years.
I’ve heard people say, “Every place has its problems.” Maybe that’s true. But I think you owe it to yourself to try to reduce the bullshit you deal with because 1) not every place has the same amount of problems and 2) no one will reduce the bullshit in your life besides you. With age, I’ve grown to have a super-low tolerance for bullshit. So I’ve tried to address my situation at different times in my life by: quitting for another job, starting my own thing, and going freelance. Each has its own degree of subsequent bullshit, but every time I’ve made a move it’s been a better one than my previous situation.
Sometimes it’s hard to know if you should put up and shut up or move on. I get that. Nobody wants to be a prima donna. Here’s what I’ve learned about when it’s time to fire your employer:
- The place cares more about butts in chairs than work getting done
- Dissenting views make you an outsider
- When people ask you what you like about your job and the first and only thing that comes to mind is “the pay”
- A culture of fear and risk aversion, leading to mediocrity
- The pay sucks
- Critical thinking isn’t a value
- There’s no coherent vision for creating and sustaining a profitable business for the long-haul
- You don’t believe in “the cause”
- No one is working to remove obstacles so you deal with stupid, basic shit on the regular (like buying batteries for your mouse or getting fonts)
- The work stops being challenging or interesting
There are good jobs out there. And places, like We Are Mammoth, are working to create the right environment for their teams because where you work and spend your life is a BFD. You put in the work to make your skillset extraordinary so don’t sell yourself short – find an extraordinary workplace.