Misemployed: When Your Job Doesn’t Fit

According to the Stress in American Survey, job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems. One in four Americans believe their number one source of stress is their job. Today’s blog discusses misemployment as a source of job stress.

Misemployment and Burnout

The term “misemploy” means to use something in a wrong or harmful way. Misemployment is when we’re in a job that doesn’t fit. Two common reasons for misfit are:

  • Values misaligned with the job, manager, or workplace culture
  • Regularly performing skills you don’t enjoy and/or don’t do well

Misemployment often leads to burnout, which occurs when we are under excessive stress for a prolonged period. Stress can be emotional, physical, or mental. As burnout sets in, drive and motivation decreases.

Let’s review common signs to assess if you are experiencing burnout:

  1. Believing every day is a bad day
  2. Caring about work or life seems like a waste of energy
  3. Continual exhaustion
  4. Spending the majority of the day on tasks you find dull or overwhelming
  5. Feeling like you aren’t making a difference, or your work isn’t appreciated

Do any of the above describe how you feel? If so, you are likely demotivated due to burnout.

Burnout caused by misaligned values requires knowing what you value. Think about what is most important to you, and how your job, your manager, or the culture you work in might be violating your values. This will bring clarity on why you’re stressed.

For example, do you value honesty or respect, yet work with individuals who are not honest with you, or who behave in a way that leaves you feeling disrespected?

Do you value freedom or autonomy, yet feel micromanaged?

Do you value connection or community, yet work in isolation?

Reflect on what is going well, what could be different or better, and one thing you would like to change.

If you regularly perform skills you don’t enjoy, or don’t do well, you have options:

  • Limit time spent on burnout tasks, or break time into small chunks
  • Delegate tasks to another person who would enjoy them
  • Seek training or support to strengthen skills you might enjoy if you improved
  • Transition to a role that will use your strengths and preferred skills

Following are strategies to manage burnout related to misemployment. Keep in mind, if nothing changes, the situation isn’t likely to improve. Ideally, the end goal is to improve the current situation, or move into a new one.

Seek God through prayer and meditation

A friend of mine once told me prayer is the asking, and meditation is listening for answers.

Boldly approach God with specific prayers. Invite Him into your job situation by sharing your struggles and asking for Him to intervene. Do you want a job aligned to your talent and passion? Ask. Do you want a better relationship with a co-worker or manager? Ask.

God might choose to answer prayer differently than we expect, but Matthew 7:7-8 directs us to, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (NIV)

Assess your priorities

Aligning your life to your priorities can help you lessen the effects of stress and burn out.

Are you setting boundaries? When we set boundaries on how we allow others to treat us, as well as how we spend our time, it benefits our well-being. Perhaps you need to take social media and technology breaks, or take up a creative hobby. Are you prioritizing sleep and relaxation time on your calendar? If not, start this week.

Address your concerns

After reflecting on what is going well and what needs to change, you might discover there are people with whom you should have a conversation. Your boss, a co-worker, or even a family member might be violating your values without realizing it. Give people the benefit of the doubt. If you need help broaching the conversation, here is a prompt to help you start a discussion:

“I need your help with something. Do you have a few minutes to talk? I want to hear your perspective and share mine, as well.”

Try to avoid assumptions about a person’s behavior, as assumptions tend to create conflict. This brief video will help you prepare by keeping you focused on observed behaviors when broaching a difficult conversation: https://youtu.be/8moJjo8AYNI

Exercise 30 minutes daily

The link between stress management and exercise is well established. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Thirty minutes of exercise, such as a brisk walk five days per week, can do wonders for stress.

Connect with your support system

A common reaction to stress and burnout is to self-isolate and avoid spending time with people. Maybe you feel like you’ll bring others down if you aren’t the life of the party. Reach out to people you care about, build friendships at work, get involved with a group or cause you care about, and limit time with negative people.

A support system is important for your well-being.

Start or maintain a healthy diet

You’ve heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” Research shows food affects our mood. Add 3-4 antidepressant foods to your daily diet. Examples are salmon, mussels, spinach, cauliflower, and strawberries.

Limit alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar, and food with preservatives. All of these can negatively alter mood.

This, Too, Shall Pass

When I was a child, my mother often said, “This, too, shall pass.” Her words, while simple, are true. In the meantime, remember to take care of yourself, ask God for guidance, and rely on a network of support. Crossroads Career is also here to help.

This post was written by Kristin Sherry.  Kristin is a member of the Crossroads Career Board of Directors.  She is the best selling author of YouMap & Your Team Loves Mondays…Right? She joined our board in 2019 and lives with her husband and 4 kids in North Carolina.



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