How desperate are you to leave work each day?
However bored, overworked, or underappreciated you are, I’ll bet you are not as desperate as Casey Fury.
On May 23, 2012, Fury was working as a painter performing an overhaul on the USS Miami nuclear submarine. He had enough of work for the day and wanted to leave early.
We have all been in that situation.
Many of us would have faked a sickness or invented a family emergency. Fury ignored these options for something a little excessive — he started a fire, which isn’t the best idea when you’re on a nuclear submarine. Unfortunately for Fury, the fire got out of hand and caused over $450 million in damages.
After several years, the repair bills proved too prohibitive, and the submarine was permanently decommissioned.
Fury did get some time off work — seventeen years in fact as he was sentenced to prison for his action.
So what are the signs that you may be burned out in your current job, and alternatives are there to committing ‘work arson?’
1. Work shouldn’t be the Squid Games
After graduating, my first career job was for a global oil corporation — I was chasing money and didn’t care who I worked for.
There were six new starters on my first day — all recent graduates. We spent the first day together completing a company induction and were told we would meet once a month and be assessed on our work performance.
And so the Graduate Hunger Games commenced.
I was determined to win this battle. I would be the first in the office and the last to leave. The others caught wind of this, and it became a farce as we got to the office at 8 am, then 7 am, and then 6 am.
There was no one else around but the six of us all battling for the title most hours worked. Mid-level managers caught wind of it and started encouraging us, saying the main assessment criteria in our monthly reviews were hours in the office, and they had been through the same process.
My 18 hour days were long, tedious, and exhausting. In the rare time I had at home, I began hating that job, and the culture heavily focused on hours in the office.
Within three years, five of us had quit. I’ll admit I was the first to leave.
The anti arson tip:
If you are in a workplace where long hours are seen as a badge of honor, and you are trying to log as many as you can — look for an alternative.
Don’t work for any company that rates hours over output.
2. New balance
How often do we hear work/life balance mentioned in articles like this?
All the time. And there is a reason for that — it’s crucial. Many employers will promote work/life balance in their recruitment advertisements, but few follow through.
When it comes to work/life balance, people talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.
Need some statistics on this? Try these:
94% of service professionals in the U.S. spend over 50 hours working per week, with most doing additional work on the weekends.
48% of Americans consider themselves to be workaholics
Yet despite this, 72% of people say work-life balance when job-searching.
It is partly due to the Squid Game mentality and partly due to companies encouraging more work. With more people working remotely, the temptation is to work longer, which can lead to resentment as you have less personal time.
Don’t be in the group that has no balance.
The anti arson tip:
Log off when you are feeling exhausted or burned out. Take personal time. If your child has a school recital during work hours — attend it. Don’t miss important personal events just to ‘finish a report’ or get ‘one more task done.’
Hold employers that promote work/life balance accountable.
3. Mo money, mo problems
Why did I choose to work at an oil company — an industry I have no interest in?
Plain and simple. I was chasing the bucks. It was a curse that stuck with me for years as I was always looking for the jobs that paid the most.
It took until I was in my mid 40’s to realize that money isn’t the be-all and end-all. They say you can’t put a price on happiness, which rings true.
If you are considering a job, then the salary should just be one consideration. And it should rank lower than career development, work/life balance, and happiness.
I have friends earning seven figures a year in their jobs that are completely miserable. They live, breathe, and sleep work. Well, they don’t actually sleep work as they find it hard to fall asleep.
The anti arson tip:
You need to put a dollar value on your mental health, sleep, and time spent with your family and friends.
That will help you calculate any job’s “true” salary package.
4. Water your own grass to make it greener
We all know the saying the grass is greener.
Your friends have better jobs, work fewer hours, get paid more. You are envious of others while you wallow in a stressful, time-consuming job.
I used to think like that.
When I ran my own business, I was envious of my friends, who could switch off on weekends. They didn’t need to worry about cash flow or where their next paycheck was coming from. They weren’t living out of suitcases and hotels as they attended conferences to win new clients.
I recently had a beer with a friend and told him all this.
He laughed and almost spat out his beer.
“Ash, I wish I was in your position. You travel the world and meet new people. You don’t have to report to anyone. You can take time off whenever you want. I go into the same office every day and count down the hours. And I have a manager watching my every move. I wish I were in your position.”
We were both envious of each other.
I made a note to worry about my own grass and make it greener.
I booked in some personal time off. I vowed to travel less and hand over responsibility to others. And I gave myself a small bonus when I won new deals.
The anti arson tip:
Focus on the positives of your work. And look at the negatives and how you can make them ‘greener.’ What is within your control to increase job satisfaction.
Given most of us spend at least one-third of our day working, there needs to be some satisfaction in our job. Of course, we don’t need to love all aspects, but no one should dread each day and count down the seconds till they leave.
So you have three options
a- Find a better job
b- Work to minimize the negatives
c- Set fire to your workplace
I wouldn’t advise taking option c — especially if you work remotely from home. But one thing is for sure if you do take option c — you may never have to work again.
Just like Casey Fury.
I’m off now to share some photos of my kids across every platform I know