How to Not Feel Trapped in Your Job
There’s nothing worse than when you hate your job and feel trapped. It makes a hatable job stressful and a stressful job hatable. I suffered over a year before I realized I wasn’t really trapped. My friends who were laid off soon realized they were neither trapped nor doomed. Everything worked out for the best. Let’s bust out of this birdcage.
Huddle Around the Campfire
One of the worst things about hating your job is when you feel trapped. Not all humans yearn for freedom, but those of us who do value freedom highly value it above almost everything. Threats to our freedom are threats to our existence.
With many corporate jobs, it’s not just control of at least half of your waking life and probably too much of what should be your sleeping life, it’s micromanaging during those hours of servitude.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one.
If you still have a job and aren’t training the person or writing the code that will probably soon replace you, some overstressed wannabe tyrant is constantly hovering over you to make sure you’re on top of each step he assigned you because he’s paranoid about reporting up to his boss on the progress of the all the projects he can’t keep up with.
Micro-managers huddle so close you feel like you’re a campfire (hat tip to my friend Jay). Visions of marshmallows come to mind. Instead of the marshmallow turning a delicious golden brown, though, it starts pulsing, convulsing and expanding, probably turning a shade of alien green as it expands faster and faster until it eventually smothers the campfire leaving the campers to freeze and starve.
Reasons We Feel Trapped
Do any of these sound familiar?
- I need the insurance or the insurance is too good.
- Nobody will hire me. I’m too old/young.
- My skills are no longer relevant.
- I can’t afford the pay cut I’d have to take.
- It’s been too long since I updated my resume.
Those are most of the reasons I when I would feel trapped.
To help with that trapped feeling, check out my 7 Days to Crushing Job Misery email course!
Those Are Valid Reasons
I’m not going to try to convince you that those aren’t valid reasons. You’re probably sick of all the, “oh just put your resume out there.”
Humans don’t read resumes. Companies run resumes through scanners that automatically scan for the keywords they want and weed out the phrases they don’t.
Yes, Human Resources jobs have been automated too.
How’s that for a little salt on the wound? Not only are we being replaced by robots, but more robots are reviewing our resumes when we search for the escape route.
Back to the Campfire
The marshmallows don’t know it, but they too will soon be automated. Think about the day you’re managed by robot marshmallows. Is that a job you should worry about keeping?
We can probably agree that the most fun part of micromanaging is when the marshmallow is clueless about what she’s micromanaging.
“Even though you’ve told me a dozen times, I still don’t know a thing about what you do, but when I tell you to do it, I’m going monitor and nitpick every step of the way to make sure you do it right. And when I tell you wrong–because I know nothing about it–what you do wrong will be your fault, because you’re a cog, and I’m the beautiful, golden marshmallow!”
We Think That’s What They Think
But That’s Not What They Think
They’re just as stressed and frazzled as we are. Not only do they have a boss of their own assigning too more projects and menial tasks than they can manage, they also have the more vocal of us employees “making suggestions” from the other direction.
Your Boss’ Boss Has a Boss Too.
That’s the first thing to remember if you feel trapped. At least you’re not middle management. Unless you are middle management. In that case, you’ll do yourself a favor by treating your reports the way you’d like to be treated. Minding how you treat people is a great mindfulness practice.
Even though those reasons to feel trapped are valid, they are only a real as you let them be. Those reasons only seem as insurmountable as you make them seem.
I Need The Insurance
Insurance is a Big Trap
The Affordable Care Act divided our nation between those who supported it and those who didn’t. Some of us dreaded it because we didn’t want the amazing care we used to have diluted. Some of us wanted it, so we could decouple health care from employment. It passed, and here we are still dependent on our jobs for insurance because we can’t afford the open market.
You Only Need Good Insurance if You Need Good Insurance.
Take adequate care of yourself and your family and reduce your need for insurance.
The insurance is for medical care, not health care. Only you can care for your health, so start there. You know the drill.
- Eat nutrition-dense instead of nutrition-less food.
- Move frequently instead of sitting sedentary.
- Hydrate adequately.
- Sleep adequately.
- Exercise and practice mindfulness to expel the effects of stress.
Investing in yourself is better than any insurance. It doesn’t just make you healthier, it makes you feel better. It makes you happier.
Work to get off those prescription pharmaceuticals. Download the Independently Happy Prescription for Well-Being.
Remember that distinction. Health care insurance is medical insurance. Reduce your reliance on the insurance by taking better care of your health.
Yes, I have loved ones with more chronic issues who need the medical insurance. They have issues more severe and complicated than cutting sugar and sitting less will solve. Please let’s pray for and help them as much as we can.
Otherwise, let’s take more responsibility for our own well-being and reduce our reliance on the job.
Nobody Will Hire Me. I’m Too Old/Young
I can tell you that every single person I’ve heard say that, who either ventured out on their own or was forced into looking by a layoff, has a job now that they like more. They may not like everything about it (cos, you know, it is a job, they’re working someone else’s plans and dreams), but they’re not cold, homeless and starving.
I’m experienced, not old. I’m in my peak learning years, not young.
My Skills Are No Longer Relevant
The exact same thing applies. Everyone who said this now has another job they like (as much as anyone can like a job).
Although you can’t change your age, you can improve your skills or learn new skills.
You have to improve your skills, or you’ll get left behind.
And not in the Kirk Cameron/Nicholas Cage way.
This one is largely mindset. You can see it as a barrier, or you can see it as an opportunity.
If you’re bored with your job, that problem will soon solve itself.
That menial, boring skill you’ve grown sick of practicing all these years is antiquated. It doesn’t take long for menial or antiquated to be automated.
If it interests you, then start learning the newer tool. You’ll be a corporate hero if you learn to automate those tasks.
The opportunity–if you want to see it that way–is bigger than the job you hate and that currently makes you feel trapped.
Since you pretty much have to learn a new skill anyway, you might as well learn an interesting skill. The Internet is full of people like me charging a little bit of money and hoping people out there wanting to learn a new–and usually specific and relevant–skill will come looking for us. YouTube alone will probably teach you any skill you need or want to learn. Just Google what you want to learn. You may have to invest a little money into a course, invest a little money and a lot of time into yourself.
You can either make that investment in yourself and your family or you can continue to feel trapped.
If you don’t know, now you know, Mr. President.
I Can’t Afford the Pay Cut I’d Have to Take
A lot of people at work learned to hate me. They’d say they don’t have time to learn new skills, no money for classes and no time. Yet they can tell me about dozens of shows I’ve never heard of on subscription channels I don’t pay for. Every day they spend money on nutrition-less fast food.
They resent me for pointing that out.
I know you’re overwhelmed.
I know it’s hard to believe that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
If there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, unless you like digging, you’re going the wrong way.
What do you want more, to keep up with The Defenders and Game or Thrones or stop feeling trapped in your job?
If you stop and take stock, you’ll find lots of time and money wasted on things that ultimately bring you very little happiness or progress, things contribute nothing towards helping you not feel trapped.
“If there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, unless you like digging, you’re going the wrong way..”
It’s Been Too Long Since I Updated My Resume
If you really feel trapped, you may have to just bribe the guards.
Outsource your resume.
For one thing, it is extremely boring. You’re not writing for fun, you’re writing for robots. Ask any serious writer with a blog about SEO, and she’ll tell you she hates writing for robots.
Invest a Few Hundred Dollars Into Yourself
Pay a professional to write your resume. The resume writer will know what keywords and phrases to use and which ones to avoid. If you take your pay rate and multiply it by the number of hours it will take you to learn all the nuances of writing resumes, you’ll get a number way bigger than what it costs to pay a professional to write your resume.
Do you know what’s going to happen if you insist on writing your own resume? They probably rhyme with Fulu and Hacebook.
Then Find a Recruiter or Two
A headhunter. They know who’s hiring and who’s hiring for what you can do. They know how to bribe the resume bots guarding the entrance.
Do you know why the people who run the company you work for keep getting richer? Because they outsource things they don’t have time to learn and do to people that already have that skill. You. They pay you to do it because you can do it for less than what you cost.
You Can Outsource Too
You can outsource things like resume writing and job searching to people who can do it for less than it would cost you.
Do you want to do what the rich did to get rich, or do you want to keep on doing what makes you feel trapped?
Get Out of Your Head and into Your Body
Meditation will put you back into reality. This trap feels real. Believe me, I know. I’ve felt the trap. I’ve felt those walls closing in and suffocating me, but the barriers are mostly in your head.
So get out of your head.
Get out of your head and into your body with mindfulness. Use these 5 Mindfulness Triggers.
Keep this in mind. The biggest reason you feel trapped is that you feel trapped.
If you start investing in yourself–paying yourself first with your time just like you pay yourself first into your 401k–a little at a time, you’ll see that you’re not as trapped as you felt. You’ll pint yourself in the right direction and see that light at the end of the tunnel.
To get into a better frame of mind, try out my 7 Days to Crushing Job Misery email course!
Please tell me. What did I leave out? What are some other reasons you feel trapped? Tell us in the comments. Don’t hold back now. I ain’t your boss. I can take it.