The steam playfully rose into the night air, obscuring my vision of a girl in a bikini walking towards me.  I casually brushed away the mist to get a better look before she got into the outdoor hot tub where I had been relaxing for the past ten minutes.  Wow, she’s tan and fit, I thought to myself.  Who is so tan in San Francisco with winter just ending?  I had to find out her story.

Stacy is 29 years old and had just returned from a 6 week surfing trip to Costa Rica.  Right before the holidays she was laid off from Billabong, an Australian action apparel company.  She worked as a designer for them for 6 years right after Brown University.  At Brown, she was a straight-A student and always believed in doing her best, no matter what the challenge.  With this guiding principle, she sought to be the best designer possible at one of her favorite clothing lines.


As our talks deepened, now over some left over wine I had brought over from the tennis match, she began opening up about how much she hated her job.  Despite doing what she thought she loved in college, and for such a long period of time, she began dreading coming to work every morning.

There were days that she would deliberately not set her alarm, so she could oversleep.  Of course, after 6 years of setting the clock at 7am to get to work at 8am, she’d still always wake up by 7:15am automatically and get to work on time.  Other times, she simply called in sick so she could go surfing instead.

After the second year, her job got mundane.  She had to come up with the same t-shirt and shorts designs that always looked so similar.  The company mantra was to stick with their “known style” and not stray too far.  Instead of creating something innovative, she turned into a soulless machine, churning out the same thing after another.  Maybe for the uncreative type, this is acceptable.  However, for those who love art, not creating something new might just be too hard to bear.

It became increasingly obvious that she was not happy with her job and her boss couldn’t help but notice.  Her boss wasn’t a bad boss, she was just ambivalent.  Whether Stacy excelled at her job or not, her boss didn’t care because all she wanted to do was get a paycheck and go back home to her family as soon as the clock struck 5.

When it was time for the annual reduction in force (RIF), her boss asked Stacy if she’d like to participate.  As a “reward”, Stacy would get 6 months severance as well as 6 months of health insurance.  Stacy pondered the option over the next week and accepted.  Her hobby turned into a job, and she loved her hobby so much that she didn’t want to risk permanently hating it if she continued.  Stacy accepted, and with that, planned her adventure to Costa Rica.


Stacy asked me whether I liked my job.  I said there were times I could do without the long hours and travel, but for 75% of the time I could honestly say ‘yes.’  What she followed up with shocked me.  She said, “If you don’t HATE your job, you are lucky.”

Let’s repeat that phrase again, “If you don’t hate your job, you are lucky.”  This is her default assumption among her peer group.  Wow, really?  Somehow, I find this very hard to believe because I’ve worked at my current job for over 10 consecutive years.  Sure, there are very rough moments, but I feel so LUCKY to just have a job in this economy, period!  In fact, my motto is to treat your job as if you’ve won the lottery, because each job has numerous candidates who did not get the offer and who deeply wanted it.

On the other hand, each of us has a right to happiness.  We shouldn’t settle for a job we hate.  Instead, we should continue searching until we’ve found something at least palatable, where we can build on.  I don’t think we have to love our jobs.  And for those who say they do “love” their jobs, I’m somewhat skeptical about the word.  Maybe at the peak, someone can love their jobs 80% of the time, but there will be always 20% of the time where the job is an absolute grind.

If you love your job less than 50% of the time, and you don’t appreciate what you have, it’s probably a sure sign that you should keep looking.  It’s only fair to yourself and your happiness, as well as the happiness of others who want what you have.

Resource: Check out my book on how to negotiate a severance package. I was able to negotiate a six figure severance package after 11 years of work from my company. Never quit your job, get laid off instead!

Photo: Surfer, bikini girl, wedding at Kahala Beach. 2/2011

This post was updated on 2/10/2015. Let 2015 continue to rock your world!