Over the last three months since I’ve gone back on a new contract I’ve struggled. I was working like crazy during my “problogging” stint, but I enjoyed what I was doing and I had little desire to get back to work. Since I took the contract, things have not gone well – although on the other hand they have. My client took the time to praise me to the skies to some other contractors (and it got back to me) and I’ve gained the trust of some of the senior execs of this Fortune 10 company. Lucky me. At the same time, I’ve been sucked into a morass of corporate politics and dead time. This contract feels more like a job than any contract I’ve taken in the last three years. The stench of obligation is overwhelming. I came up with 5 reasons why this contract sucked and decided that they could be universally applicable as 5 signs your job (or contract, or whatever) sucks:
1. You can’t get out of bed in the morning. If you wake up in the morning and groan, it’s not a good sign. During the one year in the last eight years of my working career I was excited about my work, I leapt out of bed every morning. If the prospect of going to work creates enough dread in your mind that you don’t want to leave bed in the morning, your job sucks.
2. You spend more time on the internet than you do working. I know everyone spends a certain amount of time browsing the internet at work – we’re all human. At the same time, if you spend more time at gothamist than you do working, it means your job sucks for one of two reasons: either you have stuff to do and it’s so awful you’re avoiding it, or your job sucks because you have nothing to do.
3. You’re the first person out the door in the evening. I’m a big work-life balance guy, but I know that when I lead the 5:00 charge out of the door I’m not engaged in my work. If you’re enjoying your work you’re going to stick around at least past the first exodus every evening – if for no other reason than to see if you can pick up on after-hours gossip.
4. You don’t think about work after hours. When I was engaged in my work, I thought about it after I left work. I would go for drinks with co-workers and talk about work. I got passionate about it, because it was interesting and I was involved. As I sit here writing this post in the evening, I can barely tell you what I worked on today. That means I don’t find the work interesting or even worthy of contemplation.
5. You mock people who enjoy their work. I think this demonstrates that your job sucks worse than anything. Everyone should enjoy their work. Even if your work sucks, YOU should be able to find some sense of satisfaction in the paycheck, or the fact that you’re creating something of value or beauty. If you TELL people your work is awful and mock people who enjoy their own work, your job probably sucks.
I’ve been wrestling with the goose-who-laid-the-golden-egg question for a while. I don’t care the least bit for the contract work I’m doing now, but it pays quite well, the hours are good and because of the structures of the contracts I get health care benefits. I have found that it’s impossible to rationalize a job that sucks, though. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it – and it’s hard to change your attitude once that mindset is locked in.
If you see that your job hits one or more nerves in the list above, it’s time to consider a move. I’ve started considering a change for myself. One of the things you worry about in corporate America is that staying in year after year will kill your drive to create things outside of the normal corporate-paycheck-routine. I know I feel less and less desire to create (blog, other writing, cooking, etc.) every day I slog away at this contract; so the question is do I stay or do I go? What do you do when a job sucks?