He achieved his dream of making six-figures and then got laid off. The experience taught him what’s important in life.
For years, I had a job I absolutely hated. It hadn’t always been that way. There was a time when I loved the company, loved my co-workers and loved my job. The hard work and long hours I was putting in seemed all worth it back then.
But things changed, and I went from loving it to being unhappy, to being completely miserable. It got harder and harder to get up every morning and muster up enough energy to even show up. The misery and the stress took its toll on me physically and mentally. The extensive travel my job required meant I was spending a lot of time away from my wife and son.
I should have quit that job, but the money was good, and I was afraid to leave and risk having to start over somewhere new. The thought of staying was depressing, but I didn’t know what else to do.
Fortunately for everyone involved, I got laid off. It was tough to swallow at first, but out of that experience, I learned these valuable lessons about work, success, and life.
1. Money will make you settle for less than deserve
When you have a job you hate, one that won’t even pay the bills and provides zero satisfaction, it’s an easy decision to quit and find a better job. But if the job you hate pays well enough that you can enjoy life a little, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of settling for less than you deserve.
Don’t justify staying in a job you hate because of the money or because of someone else’s expectations. You’re own happiness, and personal satisfaction are worth far more than any miserable job can pay.
2. A job without purpose is a life wasted
If you’re going to be successful in life and achieve your dreams, you can’t just “go with the flow” and hope you get a lucky break. Most people get comfortable in their careers, and they just keep doing the same thing because it pays the bills. Then life happens, and there are more bills and more responsibilities, and you spend the rest of your life trying to stay one step ahead of the game. In the end, you’re full of regret for not pursuing your dreams.
Instead, seek out opportunities and experiences that will better prepare you for your dream job. That way, every position and every company you work for has a purpose in helping you create the life of your dreams.
3. Hating your job affects other areas of your life
When you’re miserable at work, you can’t help but let it affect you in other areas. The stress alone has damaging effects on your health and psyche. And it’s the things we do to deal with the stress, like bad food choices and consuming too much alcohol, that cause even worse problems. Throw in poor sleep and lack of exercise, and it’s no wonder that your health and your relationships suffer when you’re unhappy at work.
If the situation is that bad at work, you have to change your circumstances and get a new job. If you can’t change your circumstances, you have to change your attitude.
4. Fear will paralyze you into inaction
Our fears can seem so real that they paralyze us into inaction. We use our fears to rationalize to ourselves and to others why things aren’t as bad as they seem, even though we know they are. That’s what keeps so many of us from achieving that which we are truly capable.
Whatever fears you have, there’s only one cure–taking action. Acting in the face of fear is one of the hardest tasks you’ll ever face. It will be easy to come up with lots of excuses why you can’t do something. But once you push through resistance, once you move forward before you think you’re ready, you will be surprised at how much easier it will become with practice.
5. Happiness is the key to success
The formula for success and happiness that our parents and teachers taught us was to work hard to be successful, and if you’re successful, you’ll be happy. But for most of us, success remains out of reach, and so we end up on a never-ending pursuit of happiness.
If you want to be successful, you have to stop waiting to be happy. By being happy in your pursuit of success, you’ll perform with more creativity, intelligence and energy, and significantly increase your probability of success.
6. Failure is a stepping stone to something greater
Many people who have been laid off will later say it was the best thing that could have happened. I didn’t see how that was possible when I first lost my job. But it was the failure that finally forced me into taking action and learning from my mistakes.
Out of that failure, I discovered new opportunities to do work that excites me when I wake up in the morning. Now I’m doing work that provides personal satisfaction, has a positive impact on the lives of others, and enables me earn more income than in the job I lost.
7. Success is so much more than a six-figure income
For most of my 20+ years in Corporate America, I chased the benchmark of success, the six-figure income. Once I achieved it, I bought nicer things, took nicer vacations and found other ways to spend more money, but it didn’t make me feel happy or successful.
How you define success is personal, and I’m not suggesting money is evil, because it’s not. But if you measure success solely by the number of figures in your paycheck, you’ll only be left wanting more and wondering what it feels like to be successful.
The lesson I’ve learned is that for me to be happy and successful, I need to find and live my purpose in life. I need make a difference in the world by having a positive impact on others. And I need to be the best husband and dad I can be.
What lessons will you learn from the job you hate?
Photo: Flickr/ Ben Raynal