Prince Harry claims we should leave jobs that make us ‘unhappy’ – easy for him to say

I agree that life is short, but we don’t all have the luxury of making the decision Harry made

Victoria Richards
Tuesday 07 December 2021 17:40
Harry and Meghan in numbers

Prince Harry has spoken out in support of people leaving jobs that make them miserable – and he should know.

The dad of two, who is an outspoken advocate for positive mental health, said that the “Great Resignation” – which has seen people deciding to quit their roles as a result of the pandemic – isn’t “all bad” and is even “something to be celebrated”.

And after a year in which he and his wife, Meghan Markle, decided to step down permanently from their royal duties, to “work towards” becoming financially independent and to live a relatively normal life in the US with their two children, it’s clear that the Duke of Sussex is speaking from somewhat bitter experience.

Harry, 37, is now the chief impact officer for professional coaching and mental health firm BetterUp, and said in an interview this week that he believes in praising those who decide to end roles that are making them unhappy because it points to a shift in people “putting their mental health and happiness first”.

“I’ve actually discovered recently that a lot of the job resignations you mention aren’t all bad,” he said. “In fact, it is a sign that with self-awareness comes the need for change. Many people around the world have been stuck in jobs that didn’t bring them joy, and now they’re putting their mental health and happiness first. This is something to be celebrated.”

It’s not hard to read between the lines – after all, Harry has spoken numerous times about his own struggles after being trapped in a job he hated: being a royal. He’s even said that life at the palace was a “really difficult environment, as I think a lot of people saw”.

The couple announced the decision to walk away from their official family duties in January 2020, saying that they would “work towards” being financially independent. Harry also revealed, during an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, that his family “literally cut me off financially” in the first quarter of 2020.

Harry, Meghan Chat With Oprah

But while I agree that life is short, and that you should seriously rethink any job that negatively impacts your mental health, we don’t all have the luxury of making the decision Harry made.

He may now be “working towards” being financially independent, but let’s get real: he’s never going to know what it is to really struggle for money, and it is a privilege to be able to “choose” whether or not your job serves and nourishes you. For many, if not most of us, work is a fundamental necessity – we don’t get to casually decide whether or not it makes us happy because we’re too busy... well, working.

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Vast swathes of society live hand-to-mouth – and recent research tells us that right now, as many as one in five young people are jobless in London, with unemployment among 16- to 24-year-olds in the capital rising 55 per cent since the start of the pandemic.

In April, it was reported that some 800,000 jobs had been lost in the year since the pandemic began – redundancies have soared among the over-50s, and experts have warned that the rise in long-term unemployment risks blighting young people’s lives.

What Prince Harry has to say about mental health and wellbeing is vital and true. In an ideal world, nobody would work in a job that makes them sad or depressed or leaves them feeling trapped and suffocated. But sadly, our world is very far from ideal, particularly at the moment. And we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that most of us don’t really have time to sit around wondering whether or not we are happy – we’re far too busy counting our blessings that we have work at all.

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