What to Do When You Hate Your Job

At some point in our lives, most of us feel like we are stuck in a career without a way out. We dislike our jobs, but may not have skills to leave and transition into something we enjoy. There are many reasons for staying stuck in a career rut, most of which are psychological.

If you feel like your job isn’t giving you the same satisfaction that it once did, you’re not alone. In fact, thousands of people contemplate resigning and changing career paths on a daily basis. The Gallup study of 2013 State of American Workplace found that almost 70% of employees are not engaged in their work. What’s more, a study conducted by Monster.com and market research company GfK Global revealed that only 53% of Americans actively enjoy their jobs and 15% actively dislike or even hate them.

To dive into the topic even further, here are some alarming work-related stress statistics:

  • 62% of workers in America say their job is main source of stress
  • 1 in 4 has taken leave due to stress
  • 26% of workers say they are burned out due to their work
  • In Britain, 11.4 million working days are lost due to work-related stress
  • In France, 30% of suicides are work related

If your bad days at work far outnumber the good ones, then chances are you’re probably one of the millions of people who hate their jobs. For most professionals however, coming to the recognition that they’re dissatisfied with their jobs doesn’t always come with the decision to do something about it.

Making a change can be especially difficult if you’ve invested years (studying, training, practicing, etc.) into a certain career or profession and discover that you’d much rather be doing something else. However, doing something you hate will not only halt both your personal and career growth, but will also eventually result in highly unproductive, inefficient and most of all, unfulfilling work practices.

Are you in the right career?

Many of us choose a career path early in life when we move from high school to college or university. However, as we gain more professional experience, our ideals about our career may change. When work becomes a drag it can be hard to know for certain whether you’re on the right track. If you’re unsure as to whether your current job is worth it, try asking yourself these five questions.

1. Would you do it if you weren’t being paid for it? 

It’s impossible to feel elated with your job at all times, but it’s certainly true that you should want to be doing it. Imagine that you were paid a monthly governmental stipend no matter what you did to earn it. Would you still do what you’re doing? Do you feel passionate enough about your job that you would you willingly commit the hours towards it, with no monetary reward involved? If the answer is no, you’re doing something that you think is neither necessary nor worthwhile.

2. Is it the thing you’re best at?

We all have our own talents, ranging from the marketable to the entertaining. If you don’t sell and develop those talents, you are depriving the world of your genius. Imagine if Einstein had pursued a career in accounting or if James Joyce had devoted himself to law. If you choose to spend your life doing the thing you’re third best at, you’re committing a similar crime.

3. Are you optimizing your time?

We all have different daily rhythms; it’s a circadian thing, a biological imperative. Some people thrive on a 9-5, while others are zombies until 12 pm or do their best work at three in the morning. Whatever career you pursue, it needs to be one where you are making the most of the time available to you.

4. Are you tired, bored and depleted all the time?

Like any activity, work consumes both physical and emotional energy. The amount of both spikes for work that is not ‘right’ for you. If you’re coming home from work in the evenings feeling drained, burnt out and bored, it’s a sure sign you’re not in the right role.

5. Do you feel respected, appreciated and valued?

Humans are social animals; we draw feelings of self-worth from our standing in society and our relationships with others. To feel truly happy, we must exist within a community where our role is clear and our importance acknowledged. If you feel consistently underappreciated, undermined or – worst of all – abused in your current role, you need to get out as soon as possible.

Signs you are stuck in a career rut

The first step in moving towards a career you enjoy is recognizing what is holding you back. Only once you understand this, can you start taking action towards making this change. To get out of a career rut, here are the most common signs or symptoms that you are unhappy in your job.

  • Boredom – When there is no excitement in the work you do and there is no variation in your day, it feels like you are dragging your life. It feels like there is nothing to look forward to in your workday.
  • Fear – You are aware of your “stuckness” but the fear of the unknown or fear of failure is keeping you in a job you dread.
  • Comfort – The hours and lifestyle might suit you or the location of the job is very close to home. The pay is very good for the amount of work you are being asked to do. The bonuses and perks are very good. It is a government job and it’s the most secure.
  • Lack of self-awareness – Many (or most) people do not have a strategic career path. This is due to not thinking about where they would like to be in 5, 10, 15 or 30 years time. What are their values and vision? Are they looking to just make money or are you looking to create an impact?
  • Lack of skills - working at a company since graduation or maybe even earlier. They have never put any effort to apply for a job or asking for a promotion, but have instead just waited for their paycheck and natural cycle of an organizations reshuffling. Because they don’t have the skills or experience needed to create a resume, apply for jobs, network and prepare for an interview, they just stay where they are.
  • Sunday night blues - This is most common, as Mondays are the most hated days across the globe. 76% of American workers say they a really bad case of the “Sunday night blues” according to Monster.com survey.
  • Avoidance – This is similar to staying in the comfort zone, but intentionally avoiding to move out of a career rut. To numb the feeling of boredom or sadness, many people use distractions like alcohol or drugs, traveling or in their case escaping and just focus on getting through their day.

Signs that you are stuck in a dead-end job

Sometimes the reason for being unhappy at work doesn’t have to do with the job itself, but the lack of opportunity at that particular job.

“How many times have you felt that with just a little more time, a little more patience, a little more staying power, a little more improvement, you’ll get that promotion? But as time passes, there’s still no promotion in sight – and you begin to wonder what all of this perseverance is about and what might be the real factors affecting career development.

Here are some signs you are stuck in a dead-end job:

  • Not being considered for promotion
  • Someone else has been promoted instead of you (despite you having more experience or qualifications)
  • Nothing is mentioned in your annual performance review pertaining to promotion
  • You’re treated differently than before (getting less updates, being asked less for your opinion)

Reasons your current job may not be that bad

If you’re looking, there are always ways to see negative aspects of the job you’re currently in. But on the same token, you can find just as many positives—or at least a few important attributes—that make you hate your job a little less. Let’s explore three main reasons why it’s still worth staying at your current job.

1. Your current job has hidden benefits 

Do you hate your boss? Is some of your salary contingent upon performance? Are you having to fight through traffic everyday just to get to your workplace? Sometimes when you look at the negative aspects of your job, you also have a chance to see the positives.

Your hourly wage might be low but you also get medical benefits and paid time off. You might work crazy hours but you get to use overtime and holiday pay to rid yourself of debt or set aside money into savings. Try to shift your perspective and focus on the benefits of your current job and you will surely start seeing it in a more positive light.

2. It allows you to sustain your lifestyle 

Your job makes it so you can pay your bills, feed yourself and your family, ensure transportation, be reasonably dressed and enjoy small luxuries now and again. Sure, it’s enticing to think about quitting your job for something better. But “better” might not always be around the corner.

3. There’s a reason you chose this job in the first place

I know, I know. People change and evolve their interests over time. But there has to be an important reason why you originally believed this would be the best job for you. Maybe you were trying to honor an artistic skill or learn a new skillset. Whatever passion drove you to apply to this job in the first place is still there within yourself— you just have to dig a little deep to find it. Once you know why you wanted this job in the first place, it makes it easier to keep pushing through the mundane or harsh work elements in order to reap the rewards.

Ways to regain love for your job

There’s plenty of happy-clappy advice out there about finding your passion and doing what you love 24/7. But for most people, paying the bills means doing things that are sometimes uninspiring, unenjoyable or even unpleasant. This advice is for them.

It won’t make you love data analysis, but it will make you feel happier while doing it.

  • Take a holistic approach - How you feel about your job will depend a great deal on how you feel in general. Luckily, the cheat sheet to feeling good is well-known: eat healthily, drink lots of water, get lots of sleep and exercise.
  • Cultivate relationships - Work friendships boost our morale, up our productivity and make us feel happier. Suss out common ground with colleagues, clients and managers and use that to build rapport. Accept and offer lunch invitations. You don’t have to BFFs with everyone you work with, but if you enjoy being around them you’ll find workdays much more enjoyable.
  • Embrace down days - No matter how talented you are, you cannot be a career superstar every single day. Accept that and forgive yourself for those days when you’re horribly unproductive or everything goes wrong. Having ups and downs does not make you bad at your job – it makes you human. Similarly, know when to quit and take a break.
  • Stop taking things personally - It’s hard to stop ourselves getting angry or upset when things don’t go our way, but the more you can emotionally detach from business decisions that negatively impact you, the happier you’ll be. Make an effort to let the little things go, and to combat big issues in a neutral and professional way.
  • Count your wins, not failures - It is important to learn from your mistakes, but it is disastrous to dwell on them. Unfortunately, our natural propensity is to focus on the negative.
  • Compete only against yourself - Trying to always outdo your peers is both exhausting and, if you don’t succeed, depressing. Moreover, workplaces are built for collaboration, not competition. So stop worrying about how the people around you are performing and focus on developing your own strengths and bolstering your own weaknesses.

Things to consider before quitting your job

A job is not only a source of financial stability; it also represents an established familiarity of setting. Quitting your job is a big step, especially if you don’t have a solid, confirmed plan in place for what happens next.

Before taking the plunge to leave your workplace, here are some things to consider:

1. What’s your motivator?

Think about what it is that you actually dislike about your job and clarify in your mind your key motivators for leaving. Is it the behaviour of your boss or an individual or the actual nature of the work itself?

If your issues are colleague-related, consider whether you’ve done all that you can to sort them out and ask yourself whether you need to go to such extreme lengths as giving up your job because of these issues.

2. Office culture

Do you enjoy the office culture where you work or is this one of the sticking points for you? If you love the office nights out, free food and general friendly atmosphere, consider whether you would sacrifice this in the future for work that you prefer.

3. Length of employment 

If this job is be crucial to your resume, helping to elevate you in the professional world and acting as a stepping stone to your next career, consider whether you’ve really been there long enough to make it count.

Sticking out three long, hard months until the end of your probation period may feel like forever, it isn’t really long enough to justify saying that you’ve learned all you could with that company and are now fully equipped to move on. Six months is the bare minimum for the time you should aim to spend in a role in order for it to be a formative part of your employment history in the long run.

What to do when you hate your job

If you have evaluated your current situation and have decided that the only way to truly be happy in your professional life is by getting a new job, then it’s important to take the right steps to make a successful career change.

After you decide that it’s time to make better career choices and pave the path to your dream career, it’s time to take action. In this day and age, the internet is our primary source for information and professional connections. By using various platforms and networks, you can discover the career options outside of your current job and work towards making a career transition.

For more information on how to make a career change, click here and start your journey to a happier professional life.

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