Office Therapist | I hate corporate life. Can I just quit my job?
Q: I was a freelancer who is now working in a more corporate environment and I’m really struggling with the culture and pace of work. Decisions take forever, nothing tangible ever gets accomplished and I’m having a hard time managing the office politics. Do you have any advice on how to handle it or should I just quit and go back to freelance?
A: You can absolutely quit your job at any time you want, but first I would recommend you work on managing your work life better and trying to turn this “problem” into an opportunity before you make any final decisions.
Corporate life moves at a glacial pace, it’s very slow compared to more entrepreneurial and project based employment environments. Why not take advantage of that time and develop a side hustle or project to greater fulfill your interests. Think about pursuing additional education or work on a new job search and networking opportunities. They also offer great benefits, consider utilizing those on family planning or retirement savings investments. There’s something that shifts, when you go from, your job is the main focus of your life where you spend all of your time to, this is a thing I am doing to facilitate a specific goal I have in mind that I am working towards.
Know why you are doing this. Every job is a stepping stone where you meet new people and learn new things. Try to see and understand where you are at on your career trajectory and ensure you are getting what you want and need out of it.
Then, let it go. Find something other than work to focus on that aligns with your values. That could be anything from volunteering to redecorating your apt. Like obviously I think it’s important to enjoy what you’re doing but don’t spend your life getting annoyed by your coworkers emails. That’s not a good use of anyone’s time.
Create healthy work boundaries around communication. We all feel this pressure to check email 5m times a day, or respond within 10 seconds. Set up the “Do not Disturb” function on your phone , don’t check your email after work hours and use a separate work phone or computer if your company provides. If something is on fire someone will call you, otherwise it can wait. Remember no one will set those boundaries for you, you can only work on that for yourself.
Don’t react, respond. Whenever you get an annoying email from a colleague, take a moment to acknowledge that, “Wow that was really annoying” or whatever you are feeling, and then let it go. Say as little as humanly possible in response, complete the task necessary and then archive the email thread. Literally put it away so you don’t see it. Poof, it’s gone! Just let it go by literally removing it from your life.
Develop template language and documents to save time and mental energy. When you are asked to do something, reply with “No Problem”, when you are confirming receipt say, “Got it”. 90% of all work is basically the same, so don’t waste time making new documents and decks with the same content every time.
Do not participate in Slack/GChat/WhatsApp at work. It is a place where not much more than memes and complaining are happening and because of its shorthand nature, basically anything you or anyone else says comes across as rude and unprofessional. If you aren’t actively on there and you don’t engage with it, people will email you instead with a much more formal type of communication. Also keep in mind, that people screenshot these interactions and anything you say can and will be used against you.
In order to learn new things, we have to unlearn the old ones. Don’t participate in binary thinking that tells you what you can and can not do. You can create whatever kind of life you want, which may or may not include periods of corporate employment at various points throughout your life. When you start thinking about the larger narrative, and see this as a small piece of a much larger puzzle that is unfolding in real time, you can create a new rule book that includes both freedom and stability for yourself.
Now once you’ve been through all of that, if you still hate it then I say quit and move on to something else.