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We’ve all been there. Those days where you question your very existence just because of how much you hate your job and wish you could be doing something different. It’s the dreading going into work, avoiding talking to colleagues, exhaustively looking forward to Friday…every week (which, I will say, I don’t hate my current job and still look forward to Friday, but you know what I mean) … missing deadlines, every day feeling like a Monday, falling short on commitments, performance issues, and overall negative attitude towards work. Hating your job will almost always have a negative impact on your performance and personal life; it’s a cycle of hating what you do for ~40 hours a week spilling into your personal life and vice versa.

In the Senegalese culture, hating your job isn’t really a thing. Growing us, most of our parents pushed us to go to school, get solid jobs (lawyer, doctor, engineer) and that was that. This notion of loving what you do wasn’t readily embraced and if you had a “good job” that was helping you pay your bills and save a little bit, that was sufficient. Saying you just didn’t love it or feel passionate about it might get you some side eyes because you were supposed to be grateful you even have a job. There were people in your family and around you who weren’t fortunate enough to even have a job, so you were supposed to just work the job and be content. And for many of us, our parents don’t even know what we really do day-to-day. They just know we have a job and it’s paying the bills. We didn’t grow up with the luxury of asking our parents for advice on which career path to pursue or how to navigate the system we’re faced with – and to no fault of their own. As immigrants of this country, they too were figuring things out on their own and just trying to get by. They didn’t love their jobs, which were often laborious and exhausting so I can only imagine how they must feel when their children, who they’ve sacrificed so much for, come to them and say they don’t like their 9-5 where they sit on a computer all day (just an example). I am not minimizing the struggles our generation goes through, but I wanted to just provide that perspective because it’s both understandable and sad. I can’t blame them, but it doesn’t take away from the horrendous experiences some of us experience or just the lack of desire we have with certain jobs, no matter how glamorous they may seem on the outside.

It’s not easy and in the wake of the Great Resignation, it’s not unheard of for people to decide to quit their jobs at the drop of a hat and pursue something they are more passionate about. I am always a supporter of following your dreams, but I am also a risk averse individual, so I have always believed in having a backup plan or just some plan forward before taking a big risk like that.

It’s unfortunate but not nearly enough of us have a hefty emergency or savings fund where we could venture out into something new without worrying about our bills and life expenses. Especially when you take into account how we financially support our families on top of ourselves, both here and back home. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get there! It’s part of that plan forward I mentioned above – the first step in leaving a job you hate is acknowledging that you hate the job, and the second step is preparing your exit strategy. And a big part of that exit strategy is how you will sustain financially after quitting. Bills don’t just disappear, no matter how much we’d like them to.

One of the other things you have to identify in your exit plan is what you want to do after you leave the job you hate. If you don’t know what you want to do, you could easily get sucked into another job you hate. Your feelings of anxiety and inadequacy could creep back in, taking you back to square one. Do you want another job, just in a different industry or are you looking to do a total pivot into a new career? These are important questions as they help you determine what steps you need to take. It might be professional training or certification or funding to get that brilliant idea off the ground. Irrespective of what it is, you have to do your research and give yourself enough time to make it happen successfully. My latest Shinin’ guest hit the nail on the head when she said (not just for entrepreneurs):

My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to take your time, plan and prepare yourself to make that transition. Make sure you are willing to put in the work as entrepreneurship is not easy either. Use your 9-5 to plan and don’t just jump. Don’t just quit. Make sure what you want to do works before you quit.

You CAN up and quit, especially if the situation is unbearable to the point where you just can’t stand to be there anymore. I do not advocate for “putting up” with toxic environments. But if it is bearable and you do see a light at the end of the tunnel, I’d advise you to take the time to really figure out what that next step is and work diligently to make it happen. It will most likely mean you’ll have a period where you’re putting in extra hours outside of work to gain that extra knowledge or write that business plan or network with future investors. Whatever the case may be, it won’t be easy but if you go at it with tenacity and conviction, it will be worth it.

And if that “next big thing” isn’t a 100% success, that’s okay! The beauty in life includes the fact that you have multiple chances to get it done right and if something doesn’t work out quite like you thought it would, you can most likely start over. And as cheesy as it sounds, there are plenty of famous/successful people we look up to who failed plenty of times before succeeding. We don’t all have the same opportunities or resources – I am aware of that – but that doesn’t mean we can’t do our absolute best to at least try to make our dreams come true.

Note: I acknowledge that this piece has an undertone of privilege to it. Not everyone has the luxury of even saying they hate their job and want to quit. We’re all at different stages and have different statuses that play into how we can proceed or not when we find ourselves in these situations. I recognize that and sympathize with those who don’t have that luxury. All I can say is keep exploring, keep looking, and keep going. I like to believe it will get better. Opportunities will come and doors will open. Help others when you can and are in a position to. Share knowledge and experiences and pray for everyone.

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