What to Do When Your Job Becomes Unhappy

Avatar for Sarah DeGuzman

We all get there at some point. You are climbing the ladder, crushing your goals, and making more money. And then one day you look around and find yourself at an unhappy job. There are many ways to handle such a situation. This first question may start with “should you tell your boss?”

Should I tell my boss I’m unhappy at my job?

Well…what kind of boss do you have?

This question is an important one that should be handled with caution. I once told my boss that I didn’t enjoy the new role I took and wanted to go back to my old one. He reacted with vitriol.

woman in unhappy job wearing business suit looking up at suited man in trendy office

If your unhappiness is caused by a particular issue AND your boss isn’t a lunatic, it’s probably worth having a constructive conversation with your boss about how to make improvements. This could include asking for additional training or support or discussing a change in your role or responsibilities.

However, if your unhappy job is more general in nature, it might be time to consider a career move. Perform an even-keel evaluation of your interests and try to determine what exactly makes you dislike your current role.

If you decide to approach your boss, lead with honesty and respect. Be open and honest about what’s causing your unhappiness and how you’d like to see things improved. Also, accept responsibility for any actions that you may have taken to exacerbate the situation.

Ideally, you and your boss can work together to find a resolution that works for both of you.

What are the risks of quitting my engineering job?

It can be a big decision to quit your engineering job, and it is important to consider the potential risks before taking the leap.

The most likely outcome is that you will find another job in engineering, but it might take a while. So line up other options so you can survive financially during your job search.

Do consider how quitting your current job might affect your professional reputation in the industry. Quit respectfully with a two-week notice and blowback should be minimal. Storm out of the door on an ordinary Thursday afternoon and watch how quickly the word will spread.

Finally, it is important to consider the emotional risks of leaving a job you have been in for a while, such as feeling overwhelmed and anxious while looking for a new job. Ultimately, the decision to quit your unhappy engineering job should be based on careful consideration of your situation and the pros and cons of staying in your current job. Bend a trusted friend’s ear or a mentor to help you weigh the risks and rewards of quitting.

Outside of losing income, a major issue that comes up when quitting a job is health insurance.

How do I get health insurance outside of a company?

Getting health insurance outside of a company can feel daunting and confusing. We are going to assume that you aren’t eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.

As such, you have a few options when it comes to obtaining health insurance outside of a group plan.

1. Private Health Insurance Plan. These plans typically cost more than a group plan, but offer more flexibility and customization. You can shop for plans online and compare coverage, cost and other factors to find the best fit for your needs.

2. Short-Term Health Care Plan – Not planning to get pregnant? No chronic conditions? Congrats! You are eligible for a short-term health care plan. These operate a lot like the Private Health Insurance plan only at a 1/2 to a 1/3 of the cost. Despite the name, you can renew these plans for years on end.

3. Health Care Sharing Ministries. These organizations allow individuals to join together and share their medical costs. Members pay a monthly fee that covers the cost of their medical bills.

By the way, you must take care both of your mental and physical health as well, for instance, by practicing yoga, meditation and various breathing exercises. Moreover, you may try out such simple activities as walking at the park, reading books, playing board games or rulett mobile, or try out handcraft.

No matter which option you choose, it’s important to carefully research and compare plans to make sure you find one that meets your needs and budget. Good luck!

Other concerns may be how much money you have socked away in your 401K.

How much money should I have in my 401K at age 25, 30, 35, and 40?

There are rules of thumb for this kind of thing. And if you are a rule-of-thumb kind of person, here’s a nifty chart for you.

AgeAmount Saved in Your 401K
253-6 months of your annual salary (i.e. $100k salary = $50k to $50k balance)
306-12 months of your annual salary (i.e. $100k salary = $50k to $100k balance)
3512-18 months of your annual salary (i.e. $100k salary = $100k to $150k balance)
4018-24 months of your annual salary (i.e. $100k salary = $150k to $200k balance)

There’s also a school of thought that the 401K doesn’t matter as much as most people think it does. This particularly holds true if you possess other assets outside of traditional stock assets. And at Punchlist Zero, we highly recommend to diversify your holdings, particularly if your day job is in a traditionally volatile market such as oil and gas.

Generally speaking, contributing 10-15% of your salary to your 401K is a great plan if you can make it work. You should also consider investing in additional retirement strategies such as a Roth IRA or traditional IRA.

What’s the cost of switching my career?

Switching your career can be a great opportunity to explore new possibilities and escape the drudgery of your unhappy job. However, it is important to consider the cost of switching your career, both financially and in terms of time and effort. The financial cost of switching your career depends squarely on the type of career you are switching to and the resources you need to do so.

engineering and medicine cartoon

‘For example, if you are switching to a profession that requires further education or specialized training, you may need to invest in tuition, course materials, and other expenses.

Additionally, you may need to purchase new equipment or licenses or pay for relocation costs. In terms of time and effort, you will need to commit to learning a new skill set, networking, and marketing yourself. You may also need to invest time in researching the job market and employers in your new field.

Overall, the cost of switching your career varies substantially. It is important to weigh your options carefully and make sure you are ready for the commitment before taking the plunge.

Should I start a side hustle?

Maybe you aren’t quite ready to take the plunge into another industry. If so, starting a side hustle can scratch that itch for freedom.

So, should you start a side hustle? Probably. But only if you have the time and energy to realize that earnings will pale to your engineering career, particularly in the beginning. When I began DJing weddings, I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations on my earnings for the first wedding I djed.

  • Payout: $250
  • Hours Spent Collecting Songs: 3.5
  • Hours (Including Travel): 6.5
  • Costs to Upgrade Equipment: $80
  • Costs for Songs: $55

When viewed through those lenses, I made $11.50 an hour on my side hustle while I made $50 an hour plus benefits at my day job. Fortunately, the pay grew significantly at the DJ side hustle as time went on to the point that I eventually made $15,000 extra a year for three years running.

hands djing on modern controller

The important lesson I learned? Before you start, make sure you have a clear plan and timeline for when you want to achieve certain financial objectives. Consider your skills and do research on other side hustles to get a better idea of the opportunities that exist.

Starting a side hustle is a great way to explore new skills, make extra income, and add something unique to your resume. It can be a great resite from an unhappy job and maybe even the first step on your way to switching careers.

Good luck!