14 Powerful Work Lessons They Try to Hide from You at Sketchy Jobs
Have you ever had a job that you hated?
Pretty sure we’ve all been there.
I figured out fairly quick that the reason I hated some jobs was because they didn’t align with what I really wanted out of life - even when I had no clue what I actually wanted.
But there are some lessons we have to learn through experience.
I have to remind myself of these things every time I look for a new job.
Every night before I go to bed.
Because without them, I’ll be right back on burnout road, hating the career path I placed myself on.
Remembering these reminds me that the negative energy I put out isn’t worth it.
Read on to find out 14 Powerful Work Lessons They Try To Hide From You At Sketchy Jobs.
Interviews go both ways. Ask them about their culture, health, and flexibility
What do they have to offer you?
When you’re in an interview, don’t seem desperate. Ask them what they have to offer you if you take the position - without saying as much.
Your environment greatly affects your ability to work, so if you work better with a flexible schedule, or in a work-from-home atmosphere, then see if that’s available.
Does the company offer health benefits?
No, I’m not talking about insurance.
Do they provide gym memberships? Yoga classes? Meditation times? Maybe a massage in the office?
You might think these things are crazy - out there, woo woo, start-up company hooks - but they’re not.
A lot of companies are seeing the benefits of offering these options for employees.
If your employees are happy, then more work gets done. It’s just that simple.
The next time you go into an interview, bring a list of questions. It’s okay if you take notes in an interview. Everyone else in the room is for you.
Take your power back, and figure out if that office is one you want to spend ½ of your life at - or even longer.
They need to woo you as much as you them. This is not a one-way begging sessions because you need a job. Not only will this type of interview work well if you’re an employee searching for a job, but it will also help companies stop hiring the wrong fit for the job.
A few questions you could ask are:
- Do you offer any in-office health activities, like yoga or meditation?
- Do you offer a flexible schedule? Or can you work from home?
- Are there any professional development benefits - working with a mentor, conferences, courses etc. to grow my skills.
- What do you expect of me?
- What are the biggest rewards of the job and working for this company?
- What’s the day-to-day look like?
- Can I have a tour of the office?
If you aren’t growing, you need to get going
I didn’t understand this even though it was obvious.
I thought I was growing. Learning a few new skills. Taking on more work to give my boss and fellow employees a good impression.
Growth was my middle name - only it wasn’t.
My career was going nowhere.
Growth isn’t only about moving up in a company or getting new skills.
It’s also about moving yourself to the next stage in your career - and there’s a big frickin difference.
Get clear on what you want in life, and then ask yourself how the job you’re in is benefiting you.
You might be learning new skills, but can you do that elsewhere?
You got a manager job, great! But is that getting you closer to your goal?
You’re getting a paycheck. Gee willikers. But are you happy? Do you feel fulfilled? Or at least like you can take something away from the job you’re in now?
Are you challenged?
Jobs are meant to help you better yourself and give you experience. Your brain needs challenge - not mindless stress - to build better muscles.
If you’re not doing that, get out.
If you can’t list 50 new things you’ve learned in the last 6 months, you might need to re-evaluate.
After spending 2 ½ years at a job that didn’t challenge me anymore, I learned this. In fact, you might not want to stay longer than 2 years at a job unless you are killing it in every aspect, and always learning.
Track progress - more on that below. Set a learning goal. Figure out what you want to get out of this job.
Work isn't all about them. Use some time for yourself
You will not spend the full 40 hours at a job each week working.
It’s not healthy.
Production is like that because it keeps you on strict schedule, but that doesn’t mean your mental and physical health is in a good place.
Let’s say you have 40 hours in a work week, minus 2 ½ hours for your 15 minute breaks. You still won’t spend 37 ½ hours working.
You’ll talk to your co-workers.
Go to the bathroom.
Occasionally check your phone. (Yeah, right.)
We waste a lot more time at work not working than we think - and 90% of the wasted time doesn’t serve us.
Why not do something that serves you at your job?
I fought this for a long time because I had this mentality of…
… I’ll get in trouble.
… But it’s lying.
… I should be working only on their stuff.
Yes, you should be.
I’m not condoning using a big chunk of company time to work on your own shit.
But maybe your mind needs a frickin break.
If you can’t focus or you’re stuck, take some time to write down a list of what you need to get done. Spend a few minutes outlining an idea going around in your head.
Maybe you want to journal for a second.
A blog post outline.
Breaks help you work better. It’s proven - Scien-frickin-tiffically.
Take a piece of paper and take 5 minutes to refocus. Look away from the computer screen, and create something. Your brain probably isn’t focusing because you can’t get that thought out of your head.
Or maybe you need to just write whatever gibberish falls out. Take a second to do that, too.
Maybe you need 5 more minutes from your 15 minute break to do yoga in your cube or conference room.
It’ll serve you better so you can engage more in your work.
Spend at least 30 minutes everyday creating something you love
You can do this before, at or after your job.
If your company is super strict, obviously don’t do anything to get you fired.
If you’re not quite sure, then ask your boss. You can even work for 30 minutes or so on a project that relates to the company.
Not everyone has the ability to create anything at their job, but if you do, take advantage of it.
Working on something at work isn’t doing something bad. It’s contributing to your overall growth at the company. Plus, if you allow yourself that time, then you’ll feel more accomplished - and might even have something to present to your boss.
Another option is to work on something you enjoy for 30 minutes before you go to work. It’s a great habit to have and a renewal ritual you can build into your morning.
Do you like writing? Maybe you want to start a blog? Write for 30 minutes every morning. You’ll have a ton of content.
Maybe you like painting or crafting. Set up something the night before that you can jump right into.
The key here is doing something that’s ready to go, so you can prioritize it.
It’s something you can set up the night before or that doesn’t need much pre-planning.
One option is working in a ritual you love that will contribute to your success. It might not be “creating” something per say, but it benefits you in some way. This could exercising, yoga, running, meditating, reading or anything you enjoy.
Keep track of your successes & lessons
Keep a log or journal.
Write down every success at that job -
Hitting 100 subscribers, walking 20 miles, growing your company’s brand, making $10,000 per product you sell or even managing projects when that’s not your job description.
Write down all your lesson, too.
I spent all of 2017 writing down a lesson per day. Now I have a full notebook of single lessons that I can turn into content. Some were about work, others weren’t.
Keeping track of this helps you see progress. You won’t feel like you’re growing if you can’t see the before and after of your journey.
Answer this in your job right now:
- What have I accomplished in this job?
- What are some specifics that I have to show for it?
- What have I learned from this job about myself, my habits or my future?
- What did I learn about working with people in this job?
Always keep an updated portfolio
Everytime you finish something, put it in a Google Drive folder.
Save a PDF of it, links and any analytics you can gain from it.
Add them to your portfolio once a month.
Take it from me - adding everything to your portfolio at once because you’re desperate for a job blows hard.
Those things you wrote down in the last point - everything you accomplished, specific numbers, and things you created - you can add to your portfolio.
Save the images from any graphic design projects.
Save PDFs of the sales pages you created.
Screenshot the copy you wrote.
Don’t forget to clip the testimonials you earned with your badass self!
Add this to your LinkedIn profile, your resume, and your portfolio.
Make it a monthly thing you do by setting up a calendar reminder.
Oh and with portfolios - link them on your resume. Your future employer will always want to see your portfolio.
Abusive relationships happen in your jobs, too
Everything’s great. Then you get knocked down.
Slowly things build back up and you’re cruising, but it doesn’t last.
They beat you down again.
When you least expect it. You run out of excuses. You try to rationalize it.
EVeryone asks you how your job is going - and you lie, saying it’s great or fine.
Those good up’s followed by smackdowns and demeaning interactions are signs of an abusive relationship - and they happen far too often in jobs.
Here’s the thing - we’re taught that a job is a job. You do what you’re told and get what you have to get done.
It took an abusive relationship job to show me differently.
Yes, you’re getting paid for to do a job.
You’re not getting paid to get spit on.
To feel like you’re having a mental breakdown every week or that you’re a piece of property.
You’re not a machine, and when you realize that you don’t have to do everything you’re told - tasks that reach far beyond your job description or capabilities as a human being - the abusive relationship comes to light.
Suddenly you realize that you’re being taken advantage of.
When you figure out your boundaries, and know when to push back, the abuse can’t happen anymore.
You take less shit.
If you’re job can’t handle it, walk away.
Easier said than done, right?
No. It is that easy. Find another job.
There is no excuse. No reason. You do not stay in a place that would treat you like that regardless of the good things keeping you there.
If they aren’t looking out for your mental health, ditch them quick
The same can be said for anything or anyone in your life.
Burnout is a real thing.
Being taken advantage of happens all too often.
The abusive relationship example is only one thing that can happen to you at a job. It’s major, but there are other things that can tip you off to a company not giving a rats ass about your mental health, like:
- Not encouraging vacations or personal days.
- They are too strict about break times.
- They don’t offer physical, mental or emotional benefits like I mentioned above.
- Monitoring every little thing you do.
- They don’t listen or take your thoughts into consideration.
- Other employees can slack off wayyyyyyy too much and you have to compensate for it.
- Not having any type of special events or morale boosting events for engagement.
- If they aren’t checking in with their employees, offering open and honest conversations, then they aren’t a good company.
The old thought was - you are in control of your mental health and it’s not the job’s responsibility to make sure you’re alright in the head.
Yes. And no.
It’s 100% your responsibility to make sure your mental health is a priority and that you’re setting boundaries.
It’s also 100% your job’s responsibility to make sure their employees are engaged, not overworked or burned out, and thriving in their position.
Everything changes when everyone takes 100% responsibility.
You let yourself get there, but others saw it happening and didn’t say anything. What you allow continues and if your job can see that you’re doing 75% more than others on your team, they have the moral responsibility to fix that shit.
Working hard, and going above and beyond is great. Pushing past the limit and managers allowing that is not okay.
Repeat: It’s not okay when companies know someone’s working harder and letting others not live up to that.
Eventually mental, emotional, or physical health will decrease - and that’s not good for the company or the person.
Let’s work together, shall we?
Know your worth, and don’t be afraid to put that first
This means pay, ladies.
The time for paying less for more is over. The 21st century is ripe with opportunities, and companies that let you get paid less than what you should, aren’t good places to work.
Pay isn’t everything though.
A paycheck is great, important, but it’s not the most important.
Trust me, getting paid more will not make you love the job you have any more.
Knowing what your position, skillset and unique style goes for is important. Figure out how you’re valuable, and it’ll help you fight for that raise you want.
I thought that because I was fresh out of college and desperate for a job, that meant I would take anything. I did - and I ended up regretting it.
It’s a delicate balance of don’t shoot too high and don’t undervalue yourself.
I disgustingly undervalued myself and I wasn’t the only one.
How do you fix this?
Do some research. The job description you’re applying for probably isn’t new. Check glassdoor and other sites to see what the salary is in that city, then the country. Figure out some things that set you apart, a.k.a would warrant a higher pay.
You can even ask to have pay be something that’s discussed 6 months into the job, based on job performance.
Know your worth. Don’t falter.
Sometimes the grass is greener (without pesticides)
They’re spraying that shit on you everyday.
Do you think you’ll be better for it? Or are you infecting the energy of everyone else you touch?
I’ve had people tell me all my life that things aren’t always better on the “other side” but I have yet to see them proven right.
Yes, some jobs suck worse than the one you were in before.
But fear is not a reason to stay stuck in a soul-sucking job.
Every job I’ve left has been the right decision.
Either I outgrew it, the company was toxic, or I was undervalued - and all of them I worked at for 2 or more years. There are better things out there, I swear.
Figure out what your green grass looks like, then search in the right direction. You’ll find green grass that’s so green, it looks like something out of a cartoon.
Don’t play politics. It’s not worth your energy.
If your office spends more time in the manipulation game rather than making progress, you’re playing politics.
You might not even notice it at first.
Nitpicking. Powerplays. Fluffing you like you’re a porn star alive for their purpose only to rip the rug from under you.
Politics are an antiquated way of working. Companies that are more transparent, work for the customer AND the employee, and don’t manipulate people are something we’re seeing more of now. People are getting tired of politics, and they’re right for it.
Political games suck away energy that could be used to make the company better.
Hell, to make the world better.
Redefine work by spending your energy creating, connecting with great people, and giving back.
You can like a coworker and hate to work with them
A person’s work ethic is different than their friend status.
There were plenty of people I thought were cool to grab a drink with, but I struggled with working beside them.
Teammates that were too interested in their phone, or relied on me as a crutch.
I fought against my inner musings about these people because I knew they were fairly good people and I liked having them in my life. It wasn’t until I separated their work from their friendship that I accepted my thoughts. I agonized over these thoughts for months, but I didn’t have to.
It’s okay to not like working with someone even when they’re your friend.
Start by setting boundaries.
Stick to them yourself and make them clear to your teammates.
If they can’t handle it, that’s on them.
You can always have a good conversation with them about the difficulties you’ve been having. It doesn’t have to be awkward. Tell them what you’ve been feeling and that you need them to be on your team again.
If they’re worth having as a friend, they’ll listen and not react horribly. They’ll try to work with you, rather than use you.
If not, let them go.
Set yourself up with things that serve you.
A coworker that isn’t working with you is not your friend and that relationship definitely doesn’t serve you.
Nothing is as fulfilling as knowing you’re free
Don’t let them hold the power of firing you over your head.
A decent workplace doesn’t threaten or manipulate their employees into staying with them. They fight for their employees. They give.
You know that age old saying - to rule something, it must fear you.
That’s not necessarily true. I find that loyalty comes from respect, love, and the other person supporting you.
A lot of people are starting to get this, which is why side hustles are popping up all over the place. We want independence, security through our own power, and a feeling of purpose.
Create a life that doesn’t depend on someone else.
Get your financials in order so if you get fired, you can survive.
Set up your priorities, and show up for yourself.
Share your ideas. You might even make a profit from it.
Free your life from other people’s control.
Build a stress + renewal ritual you love
This is probably one of the most important things you will ever do.
Your energy depends on this.
Engagement comes from this.
Stress isn’t the enemy, in fact, it’s how you grow. But if you don’t have a renewal ritual to follow it, then you’ll waste away.
I learned this from my experience with burnout.
After working 50+ hours minimum each week for a full year, I was a shell of myself.
Irritable. Negative. Depressed.
I wasn’t eating right or taking care of myself in anyway. I thought that going home to sit on my couch and watch Netflix for hours before going to bed was my “rest” but I was wrong.
Television is like junk food. It feels good but does nothing to rejuvenate you.
It’s hard to admit, I know, because I love movies and TV shows. But I had to get honest with myself.
So I built a renewal ritual that counteracted my stress.
Let me give you a bit more background -
Stress is not the enemy. It’s necessary for growth, like how we grow muscles.
You push your muscles past their comfort zone when you workout.
That’s necessary stress. In fact, muscles are created by us creating tears in them, so they can heal during the rest period and come back stronger.
Your body needs rest to become stronger.
Start renewning yourself on a daily basis that helps heal the stresses.
I did this in several ways:
Mediation daily. Even if it was just 5 minutes.
Journaling post meditation or at the end of the day.
Rest day: I created a ritual one day per week that was my “cheat” day. I felt better than ever with it.
For me this consisted of a bath packed with epsom salt, pink himalayan salt, and essential oils. I drank wine, lit candles and read during my time in the bath to relax.
I also started putting electronics away at least an hour before hitting the pillow. I read my favorite books, and listened to calming music.
Create a renewal ritual you love.
What fills you with joy when you do it? What is your body craving? Give it some time each day.
There are lessons in everything you do.
Everyday contributes to growth.
It’s all about being open to it, present in your path and finding a purpose that serves you.
The jobs you take don’t have drain you or make you feel like you’re going to have a mental breakdown.
Employers - start giving back to your employees.
Workers - start giving back to yourself.
Engagement will increase. You’ll be happier, healthier and creating beautiful things.
Have you ever had to experience these lessons?
What’re you doing right now to grow from them?
Tell me about them below.
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