Americans are collectively dissatisfied with their professions.
According to a recent Gallup study, 51% of US workers don’t feel any kind of meaningful connection to their careers – with 16% outing their dejection as the author of their poor performances.
Because we devote so much time to the thing that pays our bills (92,120 hours over the course of a lifetime to be exact) our sense of self-worth has become beclouded. Of course, a delusion of purpose operates with a great many other components.
A general crisis of professional identity has been brewing for some time. Ladders has previously reported about how “a lack of recognition” is one of the primary factors that seduce many young workers into a perpetual state of career readjustment:
“The 2017 Mind the Workplace report, released by the nonprofit group Mental Health America (MHA) and The Faas Foundation, surveyed more than 17,000 U.S. workers in 19 industries and found that 71% were either “actively looking for new job opportunities” or had the topic on their minds “always, often or sometimes” at work.”
On balance, Millennials believe their wages to be a poor representation of the work they put in–this poses a huge problem. Validation rivals most monetary incentives from where I sit, especially to those of us being compensating for doing the things we’re passionate about. A failure on the employers part to satisfy pangs of ego (not that they ought to) seems to be resulting in workers miserably submitting to mediocrity in the fields they’re falling out of love with.
I recently wrote about the effect the college myth has had on our evaluation of meaningful careers. The erroneous equivocation of degrees and wages, caused many people to lose sight of what it was they needed to feel satisfied at work – when education becomes a means to economic stability, identity tends to get lost in the exchange.
There is a wealth of reasons to be miserable at work outside of the existential ones, of course. Factors like the commute, stagnation, your coworkers, your boss, long-hours, also play crucial roles over time.
Performative workaholism and pervasive career malaise have melded, giving way to the most depressed labor ecosystem in decades. In a recent study, 63% of Americans said that their job caused them to engage in unhealthy behavior, like crying and or drinking. Work-related stress also rivals diabetes as a heart disease risk factor.
According to Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy, authors of No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work, we should all care less. A lot less.
The book mentions 7 key authors of our daily work anxiety, Fosslien and Mollie call them the “7 deadly stresses:” obsessing about email on vacation, the scope creep (continuous arbitrary growth in a project’s scope), unpredictable schedules, the information firehouse, sleep deprivation, unrealistic deadlines, and social isolation.
On the subject, they state: “Letting your job consume you is unhelpful and unhealthy. It makes small problems seem exceptional and places too much emphasis on casual conversations and interactions.”
They believe that caring less is not only personally relieving, it also makes you less likely to produce panicky incompetent work. The same impulse that will see you turn off your phone so that you can be more engaged in your life outside of work, will dually foster a clear and level headed mind ready to be productive the following morning. They emphasize that being “less passionate” about work doesn’t mean not caring; you should simply care about yourself more.
When you leave work, they suggest you ensure you truly “leave” by adhering to these helpful stipulations: only touch email once, allow one day a week to be completely dedicated to catching up (don’t take on any new task), make room for mini-breaks, and establish an after-work ritual, like bike riding home – something that can serve both mental and physical stimulation.
Originally published on Ladders.
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