There are two types of stress – good stress, which motivates and energizes us. Then there is the more familiar kind of stress which drains us and can cause mental and physical problems. When planning a career or looking for a job, it’s important to avoid bad stress and look for roles that offer good stress. A few types of bad stress to avoid:
Responsibility but no authority
One of the worst characteristics is responsibility over people or functions but no authority or control over those same areas. You take the blame when things go bad, yet have no real power to fix problems. For example, you may manage a department of employees but aren’t able to fire or even discipline those employees. Or you are in charge of a project but can’t choose the software or tools needed for project completion. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to discuss the issue with your boss and move on if nothing changes.
Lack of autonomy
Autonomy is an important career value. If you don’t feel some control over your job, it can cause stress and resentment to build. Since everyone is different, we each require different levels of autonomy. Some employees are fine with little autonomy, but most people will not be happy without some degree of independence. Careers that offer autonomy also tend to have higher satisfaction ratings.
Little or no downtime
Everyone needs a break, whether it’s lunch with friends or a coffee break spent reading your favorite book. If your job doesn’t allow for sufficient rest or time alone (especially important for introverts), it can leave you feeling drained. Depending on your personality, you’ll need a good balance of socialization and time alone.
Negative work environment
A good work environment is just as important as choosing the right career path. Whether it’s bad company policies or negative coworkers, a toxic workplace can hinder your ability to do your job well. And stress from a negative work environment can have a long-term impact on your mental and physical well-being. As a job-seeker, you can try to avoid a toxic workplace by reading company reviews and asking your interviewers about their management styles and the workplace culture. Sometimes you can’t tell a place is toxic until you’re working there as an employee. In that case, it’s best to start looking for another job if the negativity is pervasive.
Unclear duties and expectations
If you’re not sure about what is expected of you at work, it can cause constant anxiety and frustration. It’s also difficult to determine your progress and to note your career achievements. A good manager will outline duties and make expectations clear. To avoid ending up in a position with vague expectations, ask about responsibilities and expected accomplishments during the job interview. Also ask how performance is measured. If you don’t get a straight answer, it’s a bad sign.
How can you avoid getting stuck in a stressful job? First, choose a career that fits your personality, interests, and values. Also, research potential employers and ask questions in during the job interview to determine whether or not the company culture is a good fit.