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Have you ever fantasized about standing in front of your supervisor and telling him to take this job and shove it? Are you feeling the Sunday night blues – or worse, the Friday night blues, when your whole weekend is hard to enjoy because of the looming threat of work come Monday morning? Do you frequently think “I hate my job”? In this post, we’re talking about what to do when you hate your job and how you can learn to love your job again.
What To Do When You Hate Your Job
Hating a job is a feeling I know all too well. From a position in university working front desk at a classy hotel (so classy they had ignored ergonomics for workers in favor of sharp-looking uniforms) to spending my summer selling airbrushed tattoos at a local amusement park, serving as the minimum-wage “office assistant” for a shady cookware company to spending years in the local jail (as an officer, not an inmate) – many of my jobs have one thing in common; I hated them. I was perpetually on the cusp of being late for work because I didn’t want to be there. The second I clocked out, I was racing for the door. My weekends were simultaneously wonderful (because yay, I wasn’t at work!) and awful (because the looming threat of work was still there).
Many of the reasons I hated my jobs could fall under the “burnout” category, but some were just genuinely awful jobs. Working at the amusement park meant spending hot summer days standing constantly on the pavement, forcing a smile on my face, and sneaking quick drinks from the cups of water I had to ration throughout the day. Working at the jail had me constantly in a negative environment, and for years I had a supervisor who disliked me and blocked me from getting the training needed for a promotion. But ultimately – I had bills to pay. As terrible as the jobs were, that’s what it came down to; I needed the money.
The easy and obvious answer when you hate your job is simple – quit. Find a new one. But if you have bills to pay, or a family to support, it’s not that simple. You have three options when you’re looking at this scenario:
- You can find a new job.
- You can stay in your current job and be miserable.
- You can stay in your current job and be positive.
Let’s cover these, shall we?
How to Find a New Job When You Hate Your Current Job
This is a pretty simple option. Get your CV together, start looking through job-hunting websites, apply to anything that looks tolerable or would at least pay you enough to manage it.
Don’t mention to the people at your current job that you want to leave. Try to avoid letting anyone know if they don’t have to (for instance, a supervisor might have to know if anyone calls to check the details on your CV).
When you get a job, give your notice. As tempting as it is to immediately march out the door and maybe toss a Molotov cocktail on your way, burning bridges (or buildings) is not the way to go. Finish things appropriately and try to leave on good terms – you never know when that might be important in the future.
Stay In Your Current Job and Be Miserable
This is what it sounds like. Stay where you’re at. Continue hating your job. Bring a dark cloud with you while you’re there. Change nothing. Stay in the same place, feeling and thinking the same things.
Does it make sense when you read it? No? That’s because it’s a terrible idea.
Clearly this isn’t a great option. Let me tell you something – life is too short to stay miserable. Don’t stay in your job and continue to be miserable. Who wins in this scenario? No one. Certainly not you.
Related: What is a Career?
Stay In Your Current Job and Be Positive
This might seem just as insane as staying in your job and being miserable – but hear me out. It’s possible to turn your perspective around. It’s possible to make your current job something positive. I’m going to warn you right now though – this requires work. You need to make the effort. And it’s going to feel like climbing a mountain.
Identify the problem
Why do you hate your job? What’s the issue? Sit down and make a list. You know you have one. You’ve probably thought about it multiple times. Write it all down – then go through and propose a solution for everything.
For instance – when I worked in the hotel, front desk workers were supposed to stand behind the desk all day. We didn’t have padded mats to stand on, and the desk our keyboards rested on was about 3” too short for most of us. By the end of summer, all of the students who worked there were dealing with pain in our joints – whether it was in our wrists and upper backs from attempting to use the too-short keyboards, or our hips, knees, and ankles from standing on the hard floor. In this scenario, I would talk to my supervisors about the need for padded mats, something to rest our keyboards on so we could use them without crouching, and ask if we could take turns sitting down in the back office every so often.
Working at the jail, I was stuck in the same posts and not able to get the training I wanted because my supervisor disliked me. I stayed on my shift because I enjoyed my co-workers and the days off were on the same schedule as both my parents, so I could see my family – but I should have asked about transferring to another shift with a different supervisor.
Do you have a particularly annoying co-worker? Ask to not be put on the schedule with them. Are you having equipment problems? Ask for new equipment (or if the budget doesn’t allow new, see if you can track down some gently used). For every problem, find a solution. Then, schedule a meeting with your supervisor and address them. This ties into the next way to change your mindset around work…
Your Supervisor Is Not A Mind Reader
Unless you work at a carnival, your supervisor is likely not a mind reader. He or she can only operate on the basis of the information they have. If you’re a seething ball of resentment, frustration, and anger, but you haven’t communicated to them why that is, or what your problems are, do not assume they know there is a problem. They have their own problems to deal with, plus all the problems of your co-workers.
If you are able to do your job effectively, and you’ve learned any skills at all related to it, it’s in your employer’s best interest to keep you happy. Generally, it’s far more efficient for the employer to retain an employee than it is to take the time to train a new one. Often, they will do what it takes to keep you happy.
What about when the supervisor is the problem? Talk to your supervisor’s supervisor. See if there’s a way to switch to a different supervisor. If the supervisor is the problem and there’s truly no way around it, it may be your best option is to find another job somewhere – but otherwise, talk to them and see if you can work something out.
Talk to Someone
Vent. Meet up with a friend for drinks and a rant. Get it out. Stop holding your anger and resentment in.
Holding everything in will generally just let your feelings fester. It’s like a wound that’s closed over on top but not healing inside – it’s just accumulating more and more gunk, things are getting gross, and the only way to heal it is for everything to come out.
Change Your Attitude
This is a big one. This is possibly the most difficult thing to do. But this is also the one thing that will make the most difference.
When you’re stuck in a negative mindset, your mind starts on a downward spiral. Soon, you become trapped, and it’s hard to claw your way back out. Negative thought begets negative thought. “I hate my job.” “This is stupid.” “I’m wasting my life.” “Ugh, this isn’t worth the money.”
When you feel yourself entering that negative spiral, there is one thing you can do – stop, take a deep breath, and list three things that you’re grateful for related to your job. This is going to be hard – really hard – the further into the spiral you are. But as you practice it, you’ll get better, and it will be easier to do every time.
I’m grateful for the fact that thanks to this job, I can afford the trip I’m planning. I’m grateful for my co-worker Cindy, she always remembers everyone’s birthdays. I’m grateful for the project I’m working on, it’s interesting.
Then, when you feel negative thoughts looming, focus on the positive thoughts. Repeat them like a mantra. Keeping positive thoughts in your head instead of negative ones will change your approach to your job.
Put in 100% Effort
You might be thinking, why put in 100% effort when I can put in 50% effort and get paid the same? I’ve been there. I’ve had that thought. But there is something very satisfying about getting done with a day’s work and knowing you’ve done a good job.
Are you working in a position when you’re dealing with customers all day? Smile at them, look them in the eye, be warm and inviting. Make them feel like you genuinely care. You can make their day better. Sometimes, people just want to have interaction with another person, even if it’s only the clerk at the till.
Are you trying to complete a project? Double-check it, make sure it all looks as good as possible, and show off your best work.
Are you picking up trash on the side of the highway? Get every last candy wrapper and know that no small animal is going to mistake it for food and die a miserable death.
Whatever you’re doing, put your full effort into it. As humans, knowing that we have put our best effort in at the end of the day has a uniquely satisfying element to it that’s impossible to replicate with any other activity.
Stop Thinking You Should Be “Passionate”
Do you know what’s wonderful about the internet? It makes it possible for everyone to find a career they’re truly passionate about – the sort of thing that makes them wake up in the morning and think “Yes! I get to work today!”
Do you know what’s terrible about the internet? It’s given people the idea that if they aren’t passionate about their work, they aren’t truly living.
I don’t know what the percentage is, but the vast majority of people are not passionate about their work. It’s just a way to earn a living. And guess what? For many people, their job is not something they will ever be passionate about.
What can we focus on? What our jobs bring to others and the necessary place they fill in the world.
In the first episode of the US version of “The Office,” the character Pam has the line “I don’t think it’s many little girls’ dream to be a receptionist.” It’s true – but it’s a job that fulfills a vital role. It’s very rare that someone will be passionate about their mundane job – but it’s part of contributing to society, and it helps you pursue the things you are truly passionate about.
When you hate your job, you have three options – finding a new job, staying in your job and remaining miserable, or staying in your job but becoming positive. It is possible to become positive about your job, but you must change your negative mindset to a positive one, and focus on the fact that while your job may not be exciting, it is fulfilling a function in society. Don’t think that being passionate is a necessary element of your job – the vast majority of people are not passionate about their jobs. It is entirely possible to stop hating your job.
Boogaard, Kat. 2020. “How To Cope When You Hate Your Job”. Themuse.Com. Accessed January 29. https://www.themuse.com/advice/what-to-do-when-you-hate-your-job-and-you-dont-have-anything-else-lined-up-yet.
Choudry, Nooruddean. 2017. “13 Signs That You Hate Your Job So Much That You Need To Quit NOW”. JOE.Ie. https://www.joe.ie/life-style/signs-that-you-hate-your-job-so-much-that-you-need-a-get-out-now-538865.
“I Hate My Job But I Have No Clear Passion Or Alternative Job Ideas”. 2019. The Ambition Plan. https://theambitionplan.com/hate-my-job/.
Has this resonated with you? I’d love to hear from you….
What action are you going to take as a result of reading this article? Let me know your thoughts below. Remember – your observations may inspire someone else who needs help to act.