By Dan King
As many in the workforce go to great lengths to keep their jobs, many others long to be laid off. They are the “unhappily employed” who’ve survived months, even years, toiling at jobs that provide little purpose beyond a paycheck. They yearn for new and exciting work to wake up to every day, but have little time to satisfy such urges. They fantasize about getting a “pink slip” with a severance package so, at last, they can pursue more meaningful work.
But for now, the unhappily employed just bide their time, suppress their desires and wait for the axe to fall, all the while speculating what it would be like to work elsewhere. They occasionally flirt with other job prospects, but these half-hearted attempts seldom get them past first base. They remain stuck in the safety and security of work without love.
Losing your job ought to be easy. “Just say no” to any new work assignments. Maybe show up late, show up drunk, show up your boss …. or suggestively, show too much. At least people will remember you! But be mindful that doing your job poorly can sometimes lead to advancement and promotion! Take a look around you.
There’s nothing sexy about being unemployed, so if you want to break-up with your employer, make sure you have adequate financial resources to fall back on. Severance is not an entitlement — and there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive a financial settlement even if you’re laid off. “Broke” is even less sexy that “unemployment.” Research the company policies and precedents before you bid adieu.
None of this will matter unless you have a career strategy. Take time to define your purpose. If you don’t know what you want to do, you could easily just end up in another bad work relationship. You don’t make good career decisions by getting away from a bad situation – you make them by moving toward a good situation. Until then, you’re not ready.
When you are, consider proposing a separation from your company. Outline the advantages for you, but make sure it’s good for your employer too. Calculate whether the cost of keeping you is greater than the cost of letting you go. If your company is currently in cost-cutting mode, severance pay may be more cost-effective than continuing to support you indefinitely, considering the tax implications, benefits and worker’s compensation costs. If you want to tempt your boss with an appealing proposition, it must be a win-win affair.
Deliver your written proposal to your boss and ask him/her to read it privately– and then set a time to discuss it with you. Don’t make it sound like a resignation. Take the high road. Let your actions appear to be in the interest of the company’s current fiscal situation as well as your long-term career aspirations.
Reframe your current role as a temporary job. Know that it will end. Start diverting the energy you waste bemoaning your dissatisfaction into a force for creating a more meaningful future. Identify what you desire above and beyond a paycheck – independence, creativity, learning, challenge, purpose? Engage a career counselor or coach, read career books and articles, or gather suggestions from friends and colleagues. Define the job you want to wake up to in the morning.
Sure, this all may sound a little risky (even risqué), but there is excitement in danger. Replace your fear of leaving an unhappy job with your desire to do work that matters to you, that respects your values and makes you happy. Life is too short to spend in a loveless career. Pablo Picasso once said, “It is your work in life that is the ultimate seduction.” He knew what it was like to be in love with his work.
You can too – if you let your purpose guide you.
MeaningfulCareers.com was created by Mark Guterman and Dan King, two guys with a shared commitment to the power of meaningful work. They help professionals find greater meaning in their careers, lead happier, more satisfying lives, and instill lasting value through their work. For more information and resources visit: http://meaningfulcareers.com.