Where does your job sit on the loathing scale?

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In my work with corporate clients who want to leave their job to start a business, I often make reference to a loathing scale.

This is a quick indicator of how critical it is to make short-term plans to leave a job, versus a much longer side-hustle path.

Imagine a ruler from 1-10. One is the low end, and ten is the high end.

The chill range: 1-4

In the chill range, you may not be in the best possible job for your skills, but there are a lot of things you like about it. You can comfortably see staying in your job for 1-2 years as you slowly work on your business.

The danger of the chill range is that, well, it is chill. You may be lulled into staying somewhere comfortable for many years if not given enough incentive to change your situation.

The angst range: 5-8

There are a lot of things that bother you in the angst range. You may not like your job. Or the company culture. Perhaps you have a really bad boss. Or you are killing yourself working extra hours and it is eating into family or social time.

Physically, you notice your energy goes up and down. You have some high energy good days when you get stuff done, but overall you feel from slightly annoyed to highly stressed when you head to the office.

In this range, you want to take your side hustle plans seriously, since small changes in your job can push you from the angst to the run screaming stage.

The run screaming range: 9-10

People in the run screaming range feel physically sick walking into their office building. Symptoms include low energy, depression, high blood pressure, frequent respiratory illnesses or other stress-related symptoms.

It is very difficult to work on a side hustle in this range, since you are either so exhausted or so angry that your best creative work doesn’t flow.

Obviously, this is not a scientific test, so you will need to do a lot of reflection to see which range feels the most true for you.

Jump and the floor will appear

I am not a fan of making quick decisions when it comes to quitting your job. As Sonia Simone recently said, instead of “jump and the net will appear,” it is often “jump and the floor will appear.”

But if you find yourself on the high end of the loathing scale, chances are you will either shut down physically (by getting really sick), throw red staplers in a rage while screaming obscenities in the middle of a company meeting (otherwise known as losing your mind) or get yourself fired (the essential self is very effective at inciting poor performance if it feels under attack or threatened).

Even if you are planning on starting a business in the long run, you may want to take an interim step by changing jobs or companies if you are not in a financial place where you are able to earn your full income yet in your new business.

As I said in my book, hating your job intensely is not a business plan.

The body doesn’t lie. Pay attention to the loathing scale.

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31 Responses to “Where does your job sit on the loathing scale?”

  1. […] aside, listen to what your heart is telling you. In the book Body of Work, author Pamela Slim uses a loathing scale to gauge a person’s inclination to leave a job. If you are having trouble articulating your gut […]

  2. […] example, however you are working now, where are you on what Slim dubs “the loathing scale” ranging from one to ten? That scale ranges from deep dislike of your situation to where ”you […]

  3. […] Please know that, as Pam has said, hating your job is not a business plan. ↩ […]

  4. […] live once. You don’t get second chances if you wait too long. And you don’t want to miss out on fulfillment in your work and reaching your highest […]

  5. […] as Pamela Slim says, hating your job intensely is not a business plan. And even beyond that, there are a lot of trade-offs that come with working for yourself. It can be […]

  6. […] importante, tocmai pentru ca ai multe detalii de care te preocupi. Iti mai place ceea ce faci? Where does your job sit on the loathing scale? Tu cum ai continua aceasta scala pe partea pozitiva, daca iti place ceea ce faci si nu vrei sa fugi […]

  7. Usama says:

    I think your trying to say its better to be broke and happy then rich and depressed, angry and sad. Although with the ground-breaking opportunities on the internet I don’t think anyone can ever be broke, not if they want to.

  8. Pam-
    I really love this post! This really helps me realize where I am and what my next step is.

  9. […] In my work with corporate clients who want to leave their job to start a business, I often make reference to a loathing scale.This is a quick indicator of how critical it is to make short-term plans to leave a job, versus a much longer side-hustle path.Imagine a ruler from 1-10. One is the low […] Original post […]

  10. I experienced an “11” … I found myself describing my mood as “heart attack angry.” When I heard myself say those words, I quit as soon as possible. I have no idea whether I would have had a heart attack or not, but those people (boss and upper management) weren’t worth dying for. My coworkers still suffer. I am broke and happy. And alive.

    So, I’m starting a business under less than ideal conditions. At least I’m here to do it.

  11. Greg says:

    This is great information. I’m in the Angst range and can relate to all the points. I am working on escaping by the time i’m 30 but then again I wonder if I should just move on to somewhere with a better company culture and team environment. That’s what is really lacking for me right now. November will be a year here and maybe i’ll start looking around in January. Untill then i’ll stick it out, continue working on my side hustles and see what happens.

    Thanks Pam for the great post.

  12. Pam,

    I can totally relate to the run screaming range. On a scale of 1-10, I was a solid 11 when I was a commodities trader. When my alarm would go off in the morning (usually after about 3 hours sleep), I would literally sit up, put my head in my hands, and say, “F***, I hate my job.” It took a brutal toll on me, and more than once I puked blood into a trash can on the trading floor.

    That said, sticking it out was ultimately worth it. I made a bundle of dough and was able to walk away for good two weeks before my 30th birthday.

    The key for anyone in this situation is to give yourself an expiration date. If you’re in a low-paying job that just sucks, bail immediately – it’s not worth the hassle. But if you’re like I was – in a high-paying job where you have the opportunity to make a lot of money but you’re miserable – it might be worth hanging in there for awhile. Just have a date in your mind when you’ll walk out regardless of the money.

    In my case, I went to the president of my firm on January 4, 1999 and resigned – effective December 31, 1999 or when I broke the 13-year trading record for the firm – whichever came first. He literally laughed in my face, said I’d never do it, and that I’d be working there for years to come.

    Long story short, I doubled the record number of trades by June of 1999, and the day my last paycheck cleared I walked out. I’m convinced to this day that the only reason I was able to do it was that I knew the nightmare was over regardless of what happened by the end of the year, and that gave me the strength and motivation to power through.

    If you really hate your job, I mean REALLY hate it and it’s making you sick, give yourself an expiration date. It worked for me.

    • Sadya says:

      Dave what did you after you left? what are you doing currently

      • Sadya,

        I did a variety of things, actually. I tried full-blown retirement for about six months but I got bored quickly. Then I bought an insurance agency, which was a mistake because that was also very boring, and my success (and ultimate failure) was tied to factors beyond my control (long story short: the carrier who underwrote 85% of my business pulled out of the state and left me high and dry. Rather than rebuild a business I didn’t enjoy in the first place, I shut the whole operation down.)

        I dabbled in real estate investing and did well, though also not a particularly enjoyable pursuit for me. I eventually opened a yacht brokerage (I’ve been a sailor for many years) and that was a dream come true. I got to do something I loved all day long, and work with people who were always having a good time. Made a nice bit of dough doing it, too.

        These days I’m an economic journalist living in Paris. I’m freelance, so it’s enjoyable work and not at all stressful. I seem to viewed as more of an authority now that the gray hair has made its appearance.

    • Sadya says:

      Dave what did you u do after you left? what are you doing currently

  13. Devesh says:

    Great post, Pam!!
    Loved the -“hating your job intensely is not a business plan”.

  14. Claire says:

    If I ever needed encouragement for my latest action..this is it! I was in a level 9 job, quit, moved back in with the parents, and now looking for a level 3 job so I can do the side hustle thing. Ouchy comment on my facebook page when one of my friends said ‘Moving on again?’ in response to the announcement that I had left ANOTHER job (@ Amy -I’m the same)! But all within me is calm, and online community is fabulous refuge for when I’m not… thanks Pam!

  15. Judy Martin says:

    Great post Pamela,
    Lots o news peeps to share this one with!

  16. Sheila says:

    This is so appropriate for today! I was about a 9 today and it’s becoming more frequently that I’m ready to run screaming! Thank you for your words of wisdom.

  17. I’m somewhere in the angst range most of the time, though I think I’ve hit the run screaming stage a time or two in the winter when my energy level was lowest. I’m kind of dreading this winter because of it. I got desperate enough over the summer to hire a coach and have been working on a side hustle strategy. I only hope that I’ll be able to move into it full time before I fully go crazy with the endless 9-5 routine. I’m extremely excited about it though, so I know that I’m heading in the right direction at last.

    The whole sitting in the same corporate job for 30 years days are over, and thank goodness for that! I’m already pulling my fingernails out (what’s left of them anyway) for lack of variety.

    Thanks so much for being here, Pam! There would be far more insanity (of the bad kind) without you.

  18. I love this post, Pam. I often coach clients who feel guilty that they couldn’t start their businesses on the side. I have intense admiration for people who can but sometimes your work situation is just so toxic that you can’t do it. Or maybe the time commitments of the job were so intense that there truly wasn’t time. Whatever the reason, some people can start side hustles and some people can’t for different reasons. And I should note that some companies explicitly prohibit employees from doing any paid or unpaid business on the side and employees have to sign off on this. It is part of the employment contract and annual or periodic representations.

  19. I think the only reason I’m not at “run screaming” right now is because I just had 11 consecutive days off. I’ve definitely been in the low energy + depression zone, going to bed with tightness in my chest, zombie-walking through entire days, that sort of thing.

    Today was more “angst” because it was my first day back after an awesome vacation, and also because I started putting serious thought and work into getting my own business going. So, yay!

  20. Albert says:

    I just transitioned from a level 9 to a, say, level 3 job over the last two months. On the case of the former, I guess it was evident for everybody I just didn’t like it at all – as I got fired. Good riddance, actually. So I decided to start doing the freelance route. However, since I realized I had less money than I really needed to make the escape plunge for real, I accepted another job at a small startup. Most are former coworkers of another workplace and that helps a lot. So, I’m now back to being fully employed with plans for a side hustle. And I have the personal goal of definitely escaping for good by my 40th birthday, or before that (I’m 36). Life’s too short to keep denying yourself the whole potential you are capable of. Cheers.

  21. Amy says:

    For almost my entire adult life (until I found my dream job) I would begin at the “chill” range – or even something slightly more positive – and end running and screaming. I would usually go through the entire cycle in less than a year. I would end up leaving the job, only to begin another 9-5 position somewhere else. Same cycle. Different job. I would have really benefited from the side hustle advice. Deep down, a part of me must have known all along that I was meant to be an entrepreneur but I kept going back to the 9-5. Having a side hustle would have made me feel safe to go out on my own instead of hoping back into a 9-5 job. Thanks for this.

  22. Anna says:

    I’m not sure if it’s scary or funny (maybe a little of both?!) how much I can relate to some of your blog posts and to your book… I know where I am on this scale and I’m trying my darnedest to what I need to do so that I can eventually break out on my own. Thanks, as usual, for making me fell less alone.

  23. Lori Race says:

    I love this Pam. “Hating your job intensely is not a business plan.” Yes!

  24. Anonymous says:

    The scale actually doesn’t go quite high enough. Thank you for your inspiration and guidance in helping us escape corporate hell.


    Almost there