Ever feel like you’re married to your job? Join the club. Single people are often highly dedicated to their jobs. You are far from alone. And in general, singles tend to be more invested in their careers than their married coworkers. Employers sometimes view singles this way as well, however biased a viewpoint that may be. Your next job interview is the time to address and clarify your boundaries. Since employers may tend to view singles differently, you need to define your boundaries early so you can ward off any possible assumptions that you’ll be more willing to give everything to your job. Employers often take for granted that you’ll give all your energy and time, and extra time (if you have any left) to working harder and longer.
To be fair, there are reasons this bias exists. Take a look around your workplace. Who are you more likely to see taking on extra responsibilities? Who stays after hours to get work done, and who is generally more consumed with what’s happening on the job? Singles like yourself, right? Of course, there are always exceptions. But for many singles the job becomes the top priority and everything else falls in step behind.
If you’re practically married to your job, as much as you may dream of leaving, you’re probably attached to the job on some level or it may be a large factor in defining who you are in the world. These are totally normal feelings for a single, but they can hold you back from making the changes you want to make. It may be time to consider divorcing your job, or at least look into “separating” and getting some guidance so that you are in a better position to move ahead in your career transition.
Here’s the deeper issue: Our jobs often help define us not only for ourselves, but also for others. How many times have you been introduced to someone new and the first thing they say after “Hello” is “What do you do?” This can be especially true for men, who are more frequently defined by their professions. Also, work is a place where we spend the greater part of our time; it often provides our primary social network. Therefore, leaving something behind that is such a large part of who we are can be difficult for anyone, and especially challenging for singles.
Many factors come into play as we consider making the move to something bigger and better for ourselves. Our desire to make a difference often tops the list—it really matters to us.
We’ve likely thrown our “whole selves” into doing the best we can at our jobs, which, in terms of career development, is usually a good thing. It does, however, make it awfully difficult to say goodbye when the time comes to move forward in our careers. And that’s a pretty good reason to feel stuck. You want to make a move, yet you’re immobilized by what saying goodbye means. You’ll likely wonder not only how it will affect your paycheck, but your social network and sense of identity as well.
Finally, the old job feels familiar and comfortable—too comfortable. Feeling comfy in your current job can sometimes seem like a good enough reason to stay put even when you’re unhappy. The job may fit you like an old, comfy pair of slippers, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need new slippers. Sure, your job has let you down at times, but at least you know what to expect, right? Along with the familiarity of the work itself, some coworkers have become an extended family. It’s tough to break free from all that and veer off into a new and possibly scary direction.
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