I recently happened upon an extremely popular Reddit thread (more than 12,000 comments and counting) that asks internet goers to recount when — and more importantly, why — they finally decided to leave their toxic jobs. For example, here’s one relatable tale written by commenter austintx-16 (sic throughout):
“I was in the same position for two years, and I was actively looking at other positions within the same company. My bosses knew about this — it was just time for a change and to advance my career. A great opportunity came up, and I was offered the position; however, my current leadership blocked me because I received a ‘promotion’ six months prior. That promotion was literally an automatic email that said, ‘Congratulations! You’re now level two instead of level one.’ I got that because I had met my sales attainment and completed all of my yearly trainings. So an automated email stopped me from getting promoted, and my bosses said I had to wait another 18 months. I left that company and went to a competitor who was doing the same thing for better pay and significantly more support.”
Good for you!
However, the sheer number of similar stories in the thread — and the fact that many of the people behind these accounts had been fantasizing about leaving their (unappreciative) companies for months (and sometimes even years) before finally walking out the door — raises an interesting question: Is daydreaming about quitting your job normal and healthy, or a sign that you need to get the hell out of there?
One thing’s for certain: Pretty much everyone fantasizes about telling their boss to suck it at some point. One recent survey even found that nearly two in three workers have daily daydreams about leaving their job for something better.
But as for whether these daydreams are healthy, that really depends on how frequently you have them. You see, daydreaming is a form of escapism, which can be both helpful and harmful. In one sense, fantasizing about quitting your job might provide a much-needed momentary reprieve from your daily grind — it allows you to recharge before storming back into the battleground known as your cubicle. In fact, several scientific studies show that the occasional daydream can help your brain process information by improving your so-called working memory, i.e., your ability to handle multiple thoughts at once.
Much like anything, though — even sushi, because this world is terrible — too much escapism can be a bad thing. When you find yourself daydreaming about abandoning your workplace with both middle fingers held high on a daily basis, those frequent fantasies might be doing more harm than good. Consider, if you will, this quote from spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle: “Emotional suffering is created in the moment we don’t accept what is.” In other words, spending your days daydreaming about quitting your job, rather than either coming to accept that job or acting out that daydream — because your job really does suck — is only really filling your head with a constant stream of toxic thoughts.
At the end of the day, whichever route you decide to go — leaving your job, or learning to love it — is up to you, but doing neither is a surefire way to remain unhappy. If you have trouble making that decision, consider asking yourself this: What’s the point of even having a real-life job if you spend all your time daydreaming about the life you’d have without it? Besides, like, paying rent, eating food, having Wi-Fi… oh man, I’m stuck here, aren’t I?