9 Signs You’re Not Meant For a 9 To 5 Job

How do you know you’re not meant for a 9 to 5 job? What are the tell-tale signs that you should probably become self-employed? Let’s dive in!

Steve Jobs had the best philosophy about work. While giving the commencement address at Stanford University in 2005, he said this: 

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

The last part is particularly important: don’t settle for society’s idea of what a ‘great job’ looks like. Growing up, we’re taught to follow a formula that looks like this:

  • Go to college 
  • Get a 9 to 5 job at a prestigious company
  • Hope you get a management position
  • Max out your 401(k)
  • Retire at 65 

The problem is that this path doesn’t lead to career satisfaction or personal fulfillment for so many people. Some of us are just not meant for a 9 to 5 office job, particularly at a big corporation with great benefits. Because the 40-hour desk job is the default work model, we often feel pressured to follow that path. This leads to misery and unrealized potential.

In this post, we’ll break down 10 signs that you are just not cut out for a 9 to 5 office job. 

1. You hated every job you’ve had

Millions of people hate their jobs for a variety of reasons. It may be because they’re in the wrong field, have a difficult boss, or don’t make enough money. On the other hand, some people just can’t stand the very idea of going into an office every day and performing assigned tasks. It doesn’t matter how prestigious or lucrative the job is. There’s no job out there that could possibly fulfill your creative drive and ambition. That’s why you hated every job you’ve had and feel like you’re better off doing your own thing. If this sounds like you, then you’re definitely not mean to work an office job. 

2. You can’t sit in a cubicle for 8 hours

Do you get restless after sitting in one place for hours? You may feel the need to go out for some fresh air several times a day. This could be a major sign that you’re not mean for an office job. 

Working in a corporate environment requires you to sit and concentrate on tasks for 8+ hours a day. If you find yourself struggling to keep up with this regimented work schedule, then you want to look into more flexible careers or self-employment.

3. You don’t like being told what to do

One of my biggest frustrations as an employee was being managed. At one job, my boss literally hovered over my shoulder, telling me what to do. I was miffed. I quickly learned that I didn’t like being managed by a superior. It gave me very little control of my work, and I felt uncomfortable being monitored all the time. If you resent authority, that’s a major sign that you’re not meant for a 9 to 5 job.

4. You don’t like asking for permission

When my favorite aunt died, I was in the middle of a major project at my job. My first instinct was to immediately book a flight for the funeral. There was no way I was going to miss such an important event. Unfortunately, the funeral date conflicted with work plans. I had to practically beg for permission to go to the funeral. That’s when I realized I didn’t want to ask anyone for permission to go on vacation, go to a doctor’s appointment, visit family, or attend events. If this freedom is important to you, then you probably shouldn’t be an employee. 

5. You have a problem with hierarchy

President. Senior Vice President. Regional Manager. Chief this. Chief that. Do all those titles make you roll your eyes? Do you prefer to work in a place where everyone is very much equal? Then you may want to stay away from the corporate world. Big corporations, in particular, naturally have a hierarchy, and this can be frustrating for creative types. If you have an idea, you have to pass it along to your boss. Then your boss has to pass it along to his boss. Before, you know it, the idea has died. A hierarchical structure slows an organization down. If having to jump through hoops to get simple things done sounds like a nightmare to you, then you may want to avoid working for a corporation.

6. You hate working in teams

They say teamwork makes the dream work. Teamwork is integral to any business. You will need to work in teams with people you may or may not like. If you have a strong preference for working by yourself, then you’ll struggle with this setup. 

That was the case for me. I’m an introvert by nature so I generally prefer to work alone. I’ve also dreaded teamwork since grade school after dealing with so many slackers. If teamwork drains you, then you may want to consider roles that don’t revolve around teamwork. That’s why I became a solopreneur and never looked back.  

7. You get bored easily

When you work in an office job, you typically have one role based on your skillset. That means you do the same thing every day. This can boring and repetitive really fast. If you find yourself yawning, twiddling your thumbs, or falling asleep, you may not have what it takes to build a career working for someone else. You’ll need to find a role that offers a greater variety of tasks or create one yourself.

8. You can’t stand rules and standard operating procedures

Rules are meant to be broken, right? If following a company’s list of standard operating procedures makes you want to run and hide, then you may not be cut out for a 9 to 5. Companies need to have carefully crafted rules in order to operate. If you’re someone who likes to break rules or rock the boat, you won’t last long. I learned that the hard way. You have to put your head down, perform your assigned tasks, and collect your paycheck. If you can’t see yourself doing that for 50 years, then self-employment may be a better option for you.

9. The security of a paycheck doesn’t appeal to you

The prospect of creating something new is more appealing to you than the security of a paycheck. Not everyone has the luxury to turn down a steady paycheck to pursue their dreams. I understand that. But maybe you’re in a place where you have paid off your student loans and you can keep your monthly expenses low. You would rather take a chance on your dreams than go with a predictable paycheck. Then you certainly have a risk-taking mindset and may be better off going after your deals.

Do any of these signs apply to you? What’s missing from this list?

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