Being in a job you hate is such an awful, stuck place to be.
Every day you have to get up and spend 8 or more hours (a huge chunk of your day) at this place where you are unhappy. Or even miserable.
Every time you think about the possibility of leaving, you realize you can’t afford to right now.
- Maybe you have too much debt to pay off.
- Maybe you have too many financial obligations.
- Maybe you have little faith there is another job out there for you.
It’s a scary time for taking risks.
The more you sense the hopelessness of the situation, the more hopeless it feels. And this makes you hate your job even more. You resent the job. You resent that you can’t afford to leave it. And therefore everything about your life feels tainted with frustration and low-level anger.
One of the unfortunate side effects of all of this frustration and resentment is that it makes an already bad situation appear worse than it really is. You become hyper-focused on how stuck you are, and the negative aspects of your job and life loom in the forefront of your thoughts all the time.
It’s hard to jump off this emotional treadmill when all of your energy is sucked out by despair.
Do you see yourself in any of this? If so, let’s see what we can do to get you off the treadmill and on the path toward something better.
Here are 5 things you can do right now to get started. Grab paper and pen to make some notes.
1. What is the truth?
Let’s get really clear on why you hate your job and what parts of it you hate. Do you hate the work itself? Are you bored or not challenged? Do you not like the people you work with? Your boss? Is the environment dysfunctional or unprofessional? Do you not feel respected or valued? Drill down to exactly what it is you hate about your job and why you hate it. Write these down.
On the flip side, ignoring all of these things you hate, what are some things you like about the job? Write down everything you can think of, even the smallest things — like the free parking or your desk chair. Don’t allow your frustration to taint the elements you truly find good or satisfactory. This will give you some perspective that even the worst jobs aren’t all bad.
2. What can you change?
Within your current job, have you explored all possibilities for addressing and changing the things you hate? Is it possible to shift your work responsibilities to something you like better? Have you met with your boss to address your unhappiness or concerns? Can you ask for what you need with any hope or expectation that it might change?
If there is any small action you can take that might make your current job more appealing, write it down and consider how you will go about taking that action in the next few weeks. Even small positive change can make a bad situation better and lift your resentment, at least for a time.
3. What is your role in it?
This is always a difficult question, but to get at the entire truth, you must examine your own personal responsibility for the situation you are experiencing. How have you possibly contributed to your unhappiness in your job? What kind of vibe are you projecting to your boss and coworkers? Do they sense your unhappiness and resentment? How might this impact their interactions with you?
Think about your past personnel reviews or comments your boss or peers have made about you in the past that haven’t been glowing. What personality traits, behaviors, or decisions have you made that might be negatively impacting your feelings about your job? Write these down.
Now think about what you can do to correct or change these issues. How can you change your own behavior and attitude to make things better while you are at this job? What do you need to say or do to correct any misunderstandings or bad feelings? What will you do in the next few weeks to address these?
4. What do you know?
How much do you really know about how stuck you are? Have you done thorough research on other jobs that might suit you better? Have you prepared your resume and gone on any interviews? Have you thoroughly explored your career passion and what it would take to have the education and skills necessary? Have you met with people who are in jobs you would enjoy to network and gather information?
If you don’t know what else you could or should be doing, begin to do the work to find your passion. Doing this work alone will make you feel more in control and motivated for change.
Before you proclaim yourself stuck, make sure you have covered all of your bases, done your due diligence, and taken actions to move yourself forward. What are one or two actions you can take in the next few weeks to explore other job or career options?
5. How are your finances?
The primary issue holding people back from making a job change is money. You certainly don’t want to lose your job and go for a period of time without income. And many of us can’t afford to take a job that pays less than we are making now.
But if you prepare yourself financially, you allow some wiggle room to get unstuck from your unhappy job situation. You need to address debt, spending, and savings.
If you are in debt, you feel really trapped. Your very first order of business is to pay off the debt. If you’re spending more than you are making, that must stop. Sometimes when we are unhappy with our jobs and lives, we spend money to fill the void. But that is a trap that further entrenches you in despair.
Do whatever you can to get out of debt. One of the best books I’ve read on the subject is Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. Once you are out of debt, you need to begin a savings plan so that you have a 6-12 month cushion. You might need to save more if you decide to go back to school or take a job that pays less than you make now. (Dave shows you how in his book.)
Also, begin to examine your current lifestyle to see where you can cut back or how you can alter it so you can afford to have a job you enjoy. Working for the purpose of paying for things and supporting a certain lifestyle doesn’t offer happiness. If you are unhappy with your job, you can’t enjoy the lifestyle.
What can you do in the next few weeks to prepare yourself financially so that you can afford to have some choices around your career plans?
Now what will you do?
You spend more than half of your waking hours at your job. That is a huge chunk of time to devote to something you hate. It may take months or even a few years to extricate yourself, but don’t give up trying. Keep picking at possible solutions as you would a stubborn knot.
Figure out what you want, and be relentless about going after it. Yes, it may involve some short term sacrifices and life changes. It may mean sucking it up for a while as you work toward change. But just knowing you are moving forward will lighten your emotional burden and give you the momentum to find creative solutions.
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