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Episode Transcript

You find yourself in a bad job situation. You didn’t realize it at first. But now you know you’re in a bad job situation because it’s bringing your energy down. 

Maybe it’s a job that’s a wrong fit. One that doesn’t align with your strengths and passion. 

More likely though it’s toxic. Meaning someone you work for (or with) is at the very least incompatible and exasperating, and often hostile, unfair, harassing and oppressive. 

At the end of every day you’re exhausted and disenchanted. This job brings you no joy. 

What are you gonna do? What are you gonna do about this bad job situation?

Yes, you can confront people and try working things out in a professional way. You can take the issue up with your management and HR. But when those fail, then what?

The fix is simple. Leave that job. Everyone can see that would be the best decision. Even you know leaving the job would be best. 

But knowing and doing are 2 different things. 

Leaving a bad job should be a no-brainer. I’ve worked with women who got themselves out of a bad job situation and instantly realized the benefits. 

But I’ve also worked with women who can’t seem to let go. They can’t give themselves permission to leave a bad job.

To help you avoid this conundrum let’s explore it a little further. Let’s look at the reasons why you continue to hang on. And how you might be motivated instead to let that bad job go.

Why Good Women Engineers Hold On to Bad Jobs

There are lots of reasons – or excuses – why women engineers hold on to bad jobs. And they can generally be put into 4 categories:

  1. Morals and Discipline

The first category has to do with morals and discipline. You think that quitting is like giving up and that’s not an option for you. 

You’ve worked hard to get where you are and quitting looks like failure. You think leaving is gonna make you look bad. 

Perhaps you see no better options. You need the paycheck. You need to support your family. 

Based on your morals and discipline you justify staying in this bad job.

  1. Loyalty and Personal Worth

The second category is about loyalty and personal worth. You link your personal worth to your work.

You believe you are nothing without this job. Or you believe no one else can or will replace you. 

Your logic is that someone has to do this job. And you’re the expert, so you need to keep working here. 

  1. Putting Your Job Ahead of Yourself and Your Career

In the third category you put your job ahead of yourself and your career. You know you’re doing this when you start setting arbitrary deadlines. 

Like, you can’t leave until this project is finished. Until the end of the fiscal year. Until your lead person gets promoted. Until after the busy season. Whatever it may be.

Your attitude is that whatever is happening to you is less important than what you’re doing for other people. You lose focus on your engineering career overall. And on your own self-care.

  1. Fighting Windmills

The 4th and last category is what I call fighting windmills. You insist on continuing the good fight against someone or something that is unwinnable. 

Maybe because you just want to be the victor. You want to prove your point. 

In any case, you’re determined to keep going until this situation is fixed. Until the issue is resolved. Or until someone or something changes.

Often multiple categories are in play. And the force that keeps some women engineers from leaving a bad job situation is nearly impossible to overcome.

The Reality of Your Bad Job Situation

But the logic in each category is flawed in some way. What you’re holding onto is not the full truth. 

In reality there’s nothing to gain by staying in your current situation. And everything to gain by leaving.

In reality, leaving a bad job doesn’t make you look bad. On the contrary, you show your integrity and professionalism. You show how to do the right thing in tough circumstances. 

Leaving allows you to move on to better things. You grow from your experience. It’s the right choice.

You need to let go because the stress is eroding you. You need to let go because people need your skills elsewhere. You need to let go so you can get on with your career.

The longer you stay the more opportunity you lose out on. And the more of your talent you waste. 

It’s not gonna get better.

You can’t change people. 

Yes, the situation may change. But it’s not likely to. And probably not in the way you want. 

It’s not worth your effort. It’s time to cut your losses and move on.

What It’ll Take to Cut your Losses and Move On in Your Engineering Career

Here are a few tips on how to do that:

The powerful force holding you to this job is fueled by fear. Fear of change. Fear of unworthiness. 

So the first thing to do is change the stories you’re telling yourself. Replace them with the truth. Listen to your inner wisdom.

I suspect you’re also paralyzed by perfectionism. Feeling that you can’t make a move until you make things right somehow. So the next thing to do is release yourself from this myth. 

Imagine yourself dropping everything now and walking away. Be okay with leaving things a mess. Be okay without closure.

One thing to grab onto as you transition out of this bad job is trust. You can’t see it now. But trust that things will be better. Trust that opportunities will open up to you. Trust in your ability to bounce back.

I don’t want to make it sound like leaving a bad job is easy. It’s not. And I understand the struggle you’re in.

But I’m also here to walk you through it. We can start with a strategy session to map out your first steps.

Once you separate yourself from this bad situation, once you remove this destructive thing from your life, you’ll open up space to welcome positive energy

Growth depends on getting rid of the unwanted. 

Henry Cloud

You have to clean out the old to make room for the new. You’ll get back all that energy you’re losing to your current situation – and then some. 

You can survive this temporary setback. And gain greater confidence and balance as you retake control of your engineering career.

Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast we’ll explore what really gets you to your dream career. Be sure to tune in for a very special Episode 100.