Imagine yourself waking up on a Monday morning.
Do you jump out of bed with a smile on your face, excitedly anticipating the work-week ahead of you?
Or do you lay there as your alarm goes off, seriously contemplating just rolling over and going back to sleep? Maybe you’re already counting down the minutes until the clock strikes 5 pm on Friday.
Hopefully your answer is closer to the first option.
But if you’re reading this, my guess is that that isn’t the case.
Hating your job is something I’m all too familiar with. Unfortunately, many of you are or have been in the same situation at some point in your life, as well. Maybe that’s exactly where you are right now.
We spend roughly a third of our lives at work. (Not to mention all the time we spend commuting and getting ready for work each day.)
So when things at your job are going badly, it can feel as though your whole world is falling apart.
Your mental health and emotional well-being are a complete mess.
You are beyond stressed. Depressed. Anxious. Ready to give up.
As tempting as it is to up and quit your loathsome job, you can’t.
You have financial obligations to meet in order to get by. And you need the income that a job provides in order to meet those obligations.
Although I know it feels as though you are stuck working a job you hate with no other option – YOU ARE NOT. You don’t have to waste your time, your energy and your life being miserable.
There are other options for you, when you hate your job.
What Do You Like About Your Job?
Very few people truly love everything about their jobs. But there are probably parts of the job that you do enjoy. I mean, you did apply to work there, after all.
The best place to start is to focus on the good.
Think back to what made you interested in this job in the first place. What positives does your job bring you? What does a good day at work look like to you?
Maybe the only thing you can think of is that you get a paycheck. Money is important, of course, but it isn’t everything. There are other ways to make money that won’t destroy you mentally or emotionally.
Try to be specific with your answer. And think about every aspect of your work day.
Do you have a favourite client or coworker? Do you love your corner office? Or your short commute? Do you get along well with your manager? Are there great work perks or benefits? Is there always fresh coffee and donuts in the break room?
Don’t worry if your answer seems ridiculous or irrelevant. Find the things that you like about your job – no matter what that is.
Focusing on the good things will help you get through each passing day (or week, or month) until your situation changes.
What Do You Hate About Your Job?
On that same note, think about what it is – specifically – about your job that you hate or dislike.
Is it the long hours? The location? The commute? Your coworkers? Your boss? The clients or customers? The work itself? All of the above?
Pinpointing what it is will help you figure out if it’s something that can be changed or not.
Going forward, knowing what you both liked and disliked about your previous job(s) will help you find a new job that’s the right fit for you. And will help you steer clear of those that are not.
Talk With Your Manager
Even the best managers can’t help you if they don’t know something is wrong.
Going to your immediate supervisor with your concerns is usually the first step to take. Hopefully they can do something to address your issues to make the job more enjoyable for you.
They might be willing to switch your hours around. There may be opportunities for you to work from home. Or transfer to a different department or location. Maybe you can switch desks or offices. Or assign a problem client to someone else.
If your manager is the problem, find someone else to talk to. This could be an HR rep, a union rep, or your manager’s boss. They may not be able to make any big changes to make things better for you, but they can at least provide guidance and advice.
You won’t know if you don’t ask.
If things at your job escalate to the point where the union, the labour board, insurance companies, or lawyers become involved, you may need to provide proof that you brought the issues to management and that you tried to make things better. So be sure to document this, just in case.
Try Saying “No”
Have you tried saying no? No to a new assignment, no to working late, no to doing this whole project that has nothing to do with why you were hired.
I know that saying no is scary and intimidating.
But what would happen if you said no?
Will your manager be supportive and hear you out? Will they force you to do it anyway? Or will they reprimand you for being insubordinate or for not being a team player?
If you are worried about being reprimanded, be conscious about how you approach the subject with your manager. Barging into their office and flat out refusing to do something probably won’t work in your favour. But setting up a meeting and coming prepared with alternate suggestions might.
I tried saying no once. At an old job of mine, my manager pulled that whole “do this whole project that has nothing to do with why you were hired” thing on me, arguing that it fell under “other duties as assigned”. Except that it actually took time away from doing my main job. Almost all of my time. When they asked me to do the project again the following year, I tried saying no. But sadly, it didn’t work. My spreadsheet detailing how I didn’t have time to do it and my main job responsibilities wasn’t enough to convince them. But it did convince me that I didn’t want to work for a manager like that anymore.
However, others have been much more successful at saying no than I was: How Pursuing FIRE Has Changed How I Act At Work
Get the Support You Need
Being unhappy at work and in life is no way to live.
You need to take care of yourself and your mental health. Which can be incredibly hard if you are struggling or failing at work. Or if you are being degraded or bullied by your boss, a coworker or a customer.
At some point, it’s just not worth it anymore.
The good news is that you don’t have to face things alone. There are supports available to you.
Lean on your partner, your friends and family.
If you have an Employment Assistance Program or benefits that cover counselling or therapy, take advantage of them. Especially if you need or want more professional supports.
Or contact your local counseling centers. Many of them offer free services, if you don’t have coverage or are on a tight budget.
Take a Break
Do you really hate your job or are you just overwhelmed? Sometimes it can be really hard to tell.
If it’s possible for you to do so, try taking a break from your job to see if things are better when you come back to work.
Use those vacation days and get away from it all for a couple of weeks.
If things are really going badly, consider taking a leave of absence or a stress leave from work. This isn’t always possible and comes with its own set of challenges. But if your well-being is at stake, it’s worth looking into.
Show Up and Do the Best Job You Can
I realize that this sort of contradicts my last point, but you need to show up to work every day and do the best job you can. Even if you hate it.
You need to make money, which is presumably why you have a job in the first place.
But you also need to maintain a professional reputation. Potential new employers will request references, and most of the time they want your most recent or current manager to be one of them. If you’ve been skipping work or doing a poor job, this could be a red flag and could cost you that new job offer.
Start Looking for a Better Job
Although this is the most obvious point, I purposely didn’t start with it. Because you should try some of these other suggestions (if you haven’t already) before you leave a job you hate.
At the very least, I hope you take the time to think about the first 2 points: what do you like about the job and what do you hate about it? You want to know the answers to these questions before you start putting yourself out there again, so that you don’t end up in yet another job that you hate.
Of course, finding a new job takes time. Sometimes a lot of time. So yes – start looking as soon as you start having more bad days than good ones.
Better yet, never stop looking. Even if you are happy with your job.
Keeping an eye on the industry takes only a few minutes of your time. It’s a great way to stay up to date with what skills and qualifications employers in your field are looking for. And to make sure you’re being paid fairly.
You also never know when budgets cuts or lay-offs are coming.
So update your resume. Keep it up to date. And start getting it out there.
If you are successful and are offered another job, you have options. You can stay at your current job and try to make it work. Or you can walk away and start somewhere new.
It’s easy to feel stuck when you hate your job. And unfortunately, you may be stuck there for a while. But the good news is you don’t have to be stuck there forever.
YOUR TURN: What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? What made you hate it? How did you cope? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo by Venveo on Upslash
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