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.
A study done by Gallup in 2021 found that only 36% of U.S. employees said they were engaged in their workplace. That means that well over half the American working population feels no emotional commitment to their job. It’s an obligation—something that they have to do, but don’t necessarily enjoy or find fulfilling.
And they, like you, might feel as if they’ve sold out by choosing to work in a job where they aren’t motivated by or dedicated to the work they’re doing.
But don’t worry—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 get you into a role that brings you joy and makes you feel a sense of belonging.
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.
4 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, yet you spend 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, then you may be selling your soul to your company.
This post will break down 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 in 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.
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 just 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
- Lack of energy to complete tasks
- Difficulty concentrating
- Being dissatisfied with your achievements
- Coping with food, alcohol, drugs, etc.
- Headaches, pain, or digestive difficulties that can’t be explained
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. The best thing you can do is try different jobs. Follow your instinct to find jobs that seem right, and then test the waters. You don’t have to be committed to your first job forever. Give yourself room to explore and grow.
Study the field that interests you. Find a mentor who is in a place you’d like to be and ask them for advice (rather than going to your parents).
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. You’ll never have to worry about selling your soul to your company when you work for yourself.
With Vector Marketing, the only thing you’ll sell is knives. Learn more about our employment opportunities today.