5 Signs You’ve Sold Your Soul To Work for Your Company

Do you feel like you’re stuck in a job you can never escape?

The work follows you home. The stress invades your personal life.

And yet, despite hating this situation, you continue to work hard because you feel you owe your company something?

These are just some of the signs you’ve sold your soul to work for your current company.

You wouldn’t be the first person to do it, and it’s nothing to feel shameful about. Plenty of people work in jobs they don’t love—or even jobs they hate—and often, you can end up in an unhealthy place without even realizing it.

That’s what happened to me.

I started my career at a random marketing agency, thinking it would be temporary until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.

Fast-forward ten years, and I was still working in marketing agencies, hating every second of it and wondering when I’d given up on all my dreams.

But don’t worry—there is a way out!

I’m now working for myself and living as a digital nomad, which is much more fulfilling for my soul (and my bank account, believe it or not).

The first step to get out of a soul-sucking job is acknowledging the signs that you’re selling your soul.

Then, you can make a plan to land a role that brings you joy and makes you feel a sense of belonging. We’ll cover all that in this article.

What does it mean to sell your soul?

Selling your soul means you are giving up your morals, dreams, or goals for some other sort of reward. In this article, we’re mostly talking about people who have made a personal sacrifice for job security or a steady paycheck. 

The concept of selling your soul dates back centuries, when a few different cultures developed stories about people who literally sold their soul to the devil.

Perhaps the most famous is the legend of Doctor Faustus, a play based on an alchemist and necromancer from the 1500s, in which the doctor sells his soul to a demon named Mephistopheles, in return for sacred knowledge. 

These days, people use the term metaphorically, to describe someone who has given up something important to them personally, in order to reap (often superficial) rewards.

It’s frequently referred to simply as “selling out.” It’s easy to see how this phrase applies to the many people who drag themselves to work, even though they hate their boss or the work they do.


5 signs you’ve sold your soul to your company

As you read the sections below, ask yourself, “Does this sound like me?”

You dread going to work.

You don’t enjoy what you’re doing.

The work leaves you feeling bored, stressed, and/or unfulfilled.

You feel obliged to constantly maintain peak productivity, spending more than 40 hours a week to help the company achieve its goals.

And no matter how tired you are of this job, you just can’t leave.

If that sounds familiar, you may be selling your soul to your company.

Let’s look at some of the biggest warning signs that indicate that you’re sacrificing too much of yourself for your work:


1. You lack a sense of purpose and enjoyment

Most people spend a significant amount of their time on this planet going to work.

In order to show up every day, you need to feel motivated not just by the compensation you receive, but by the actual work you’re doing.

People often talk about settling in relationships, but you can settle in a job, too.

Sometimes you take a job because the pay is higher than you expected, or just to have stable employment—even if that work isn’t exactly what you want to be doing.

Maybe you chose the job as a stop-gap solution until you could find better work…perhaps staying far longer than you ever intended.

When you give up on finding something that gives you a purpose, that’s when you start to sell out.


2. You’ve compromised your morals and beliefs

This is probably the most obvious sign you’ve sold your soul to your company: when you’re willing to do anything for the job, even if it goes against your own values and morals.

An environmentalist or advocate who works for a fast-fashion company is a perfect example. They would have to overlook the pollution and forced labor in the industry in order to do the job.

But compromises of morality can often be more insidious, and they may creep up on you slowly.

For example, your boss may ask you to work on a marketing campaign for a new client that sells drones. At first, it feels fun—you’re writing about photography drones and consumer products.

But soon, you realize the company also wants you to market their military and surveillance drones—and there’s no way you can convince your boss to ditch the client at this stage in the game.

This happened to me while I was working at the marketing agency. I was assigned a new client—a dating app—which didn’t bother me at all.

I would create articles about relationships and healthy sex, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Then my boss asked if I’d be willing to take on an adult entertainment company as my client, since I was already writing about adult topics.

While I don’t oppose the concept of pornography outright, this site felt problematically sexist and degrading. But because I’d already sold my soul and wanted to keep my job, I agreed. *Cringe.*

In a situation like this, you don’t set out to compromise your morals. It just happens, because you’re comfortable in your job, and it feels easier to grin and bear it rather than rock the boat.


3. You have no life outside of the job

You may be selling your soul to your company if you’ve given up your personal life to spend more time at your job.

Now, obviously, if you love your job and you’re happy with your work-life balance, that’s fine.

The problem is when you find yourself working extra hours to prove your loyalty and value to the company.

If this is you, stop and reconsider your boundaries when it comes to your work. Do you really want to be doing all of this overtime for a job you can’t stand?



4. You’re experiencing serious job burnout

Job burnout on its own is not a sign that you’ve sold your soul to your company.

In fact, in 2021, around 79% of workers surveyed said they had experienced work-related stress just the month prior, according to the American Psychological Association.

However, lack of autonomy in your job, poor workplace dynamics, and work-life imbalance are all causes of job burnout.

When the company has more control over your career than you do, and you find yourself working extra hard all the time in order to one-up your colleagues, it creates the perfect environment for job burnout to develop.

These are some indications that you’re experiencing burnout:

  • Feeling cynical about your work
  • Irritability
  • Lack of energy to complete tasks
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Being dissatisfied with your achievements
  • Disillusionment
  • Coping with food, alcohol, drugs, etc.
  • Headaches, pain, or digestive difficulties that can’t be explained


5. Your personal passions have been on the back burner for a long time 

I’ve always enjoyed creative writing. As a kid, you couldn’t stop me from making up stories or putting my thoughts down in a journal.

But for about ten years, my creative well dried up almost completely. Not a single short story or personal essay to show for all that time. 


Because I’d sold my soul to my job.

Most of my waking hours were spent at work, and when I got home, I was so mentally drained from working, the last thing I wanted to do was turn on my computer and do more writing. 

Our passions are what make up our souls.

Being creative with words is what brings me happiness and fulfillment.

By giving up so much of myself to my job, I was also selling my spark to my employer—the thing that makes life worth living! 

Think about the different hobbies and creative pursuits you’ve had in the past.

When’s the last time you picked up your sketchbook or went for a long hike or baked something new?

If you don’t have time or the desire for your passions anymore, consider whether it may be your relationship with your day job that’s getting in the way.


How can I avoid selling my soul?

You have to put in the effort to find work that feels effortless.

When you’re in a job that gives you control, creative freedom, and purpose, it won’t feel like work (at least, not all the time).

Take Brett Wiggins as an example: he still works at the same “summer job” he started 14 years ago, because he finds it so fulfilling. He has control over his work, and he loves the flexibility and fulfillment it brings.

Not everyone finds this with their first gig, though.

So, if you’re in a job right now where you feel forced to sell your soul, here are some steps you can take to get out.


Make improvements for the short-term

Finding a new job that brings you more fulfillment probably won’t happen quickly or easily. (Sorry to break it to you!)

In my case, it took me a few years to figure out how I could leverage my skills into a freelance career that would make me happier. 

But to help you keep your sanity, do what you can to make your current situation more comfortable while you figure things out.

This may mean setting new boundaries (such as vowing to leave on time every day), or working with your manager to improve your situation. Check out my article on managing up for more tips on how to do that.  

You might also consider switching to a new job or starting a side gig, even as a temporary step to get into something more comfortable until you figure out how to find a job that aligns with your passions.

If so, there are plenty of resources to use here: 


Figure out what would be more fulfilling

This is the hard part! It’s likely quite easy to see that your current job isn’t fulfilling, but figuring out what would be more fulfilling is no simple task.

Remember that it’s fine if your day job isn’t the most soul-satisfying thing in the world. Plenty of people work at jobs that aren’t 100% within their “passion profile.”

The key is to find a job that leaves you with enough time, energy, and resources to pursue the things that do feed your soul when you’re not on the clock. 

We have a great article on how to figure out what you want to do in life, which includes exercises to help you identify your true passions: 


Start building your skills and experience in the right direction

Once you’ve identified a few areas or career paths that would bring you fulfillment, it’s time to start your journey moving in that direction. 

Think of ways you can take small steps toward what you want, giving yourself time to experiment with your new career before doing anything drastic. 

Try interviewing people who work in the fields you’re considering, asking them about what their day-to-day looks like, and what they wish they’d known going into the job. 

Consider finding a mentor who works in a similar field, who can guide you and help you build up your skills and experience to get the job you want.



Stay true to your values by working for yourself

If you want to experience autonomy and fulfillment in your work, give direct sales a try. It’s a great place to start.

As a contractor, you can be your own boss, choose your own schedule, and get creative with your work.

And you’ll never have to worry about selling your soul to your company when you work for yourself.