I Hate My Job ... What Should I Do?
Did you know that most Americans spend a total of 25 to 30 years of their lives at work? If you are bored, ambivalent or straight-up miserable in your job, that’s a lot of time you’re wasting.
If you’ve ever found yourself muttering the phrase “Man … I hate my job,” you definitely aren’t alone. Whether it’s the disgruntled social media posts you see in your newsfeed or the heated rants at happy hour with friends, it’s clear you’re not the only one who’s unhappy with their job.
But that doesn’t mean you have to accept unhappiness.
Whether you’ve decided to stick it out in your current position or you’re actively searching for a new role, don’t lose hope. We chatted with a few experts about practical ways to find satisfaction and fulfillment in your career. Here’s what they had to say:
Capitalize on the areas of your job you enjoy
A little shift in perspective can dramatically transform your work experience, according to Steve Farber, a leadership and management expert and international speaker. Even if you aren’t completely thrilled about your job, making the most of your current role could alter your attitude and even your office environment as a whole.
“If you’re not passionate about what you do, can you find something about your work — or the people you work with — that really trips your trigger?” Farber asks. He recommends tapping into the positive aspects of your job and using that energy to streamline your everyday tasks and discover ways to make your work more enjoyable.
“That passionate energy will start to spread to those around you,” he adds.
Mindfulness is a major buzzword in our culture, and for good reason — neuroscience has confirmed that simply being attentive to our surroundings can enhance our capacity for handling change and strengthen our ability to deal with stress. One way to practice mindfulness is to list what you’re grateful for, according to Nance Schick, attorney and conflict resolution coach who helps people identify thoughts, beliefs and expectations that interfere with their happiness.
“One of the quickest ways to shift an experience at work or anywhere is to spend a week listing ten things every day that you love about your job,” Schick suggests. Even if it’s simple things like the gourmet coffee or the easy commute, there are likely a few things you feel good about, or you’d already be gone.
“Discover what those things are and you will get some insight into what you value most in your work and beyond,” she adds.
Develop good experiences and references
If you’re finding it difficult to identify the positive aspects of your job, try to focus on how the experience and connections you are building could contribute to a future role you are more excited about. Shifting your mindset to view the position as a stepping-stone rather than a dead-end job could make all the difference.
This type of thinking can maximize your experience in your current role and contribute positively to your next, according to JJ DiGeronimo, president of Tech Savvy Women. She suggests spending time reflecting on relationships you’ve already built and the network you’ve already created, asking yourself, “Who can act as [my] references now, based on work [I’ve] already accomplished?”
Identify your values
Perhaps you’ve decided it’s time to move on, and you’re prepared to search for a role that will bring you more satisfaction. Liz Cohen is the founder of Next Step Careers, and she coaches people trying to find the best job for their experience and talents. She believes defining your core values — understanding what’s most important to you — plays a major role in finding a career that will bring you more happiness.
“Ask yourself which hobbies, areas of knowledge, individuals or interests make your heart race,” Cohen recommends. It’s also important to decide what type of work environment you thrive in.
Recording these things on paper will allow you to refer back to your list when another opportunity presents itself. Start by identifying your ideal work preferences, including company culture, organization size, work setting, compensation and work location.
“Use your responses to discern specific job opportunities that occur at the intersection of your values, passions and preferences,” Cohen says.
Define your next steps
Once you’ve spent time exploring what’s important to you, and you’ve opted to set your sights on a new career, it’s time to take action. Cohen suggests defining one concrete, tangible step you could take to move toward the opportunities you are most drawn to.
“Schedule informational interviews with three people in positions or companies of interest, take on a volunteer position or commit to reading two books that will shed light on your search,” she says. “You will be surprised by the clarity you gain just from getting moving in the right direction.”
If you’re still thinking, “I hate my job,” then do something about it. Either work to improve the situation you’re in or move in a new direction. If you’re thinking of the latter, the next step is figuring out which careers you might find more enjoyable.
Take our Career Aptitude Test to learn about some careers that would capitalize on the qualities and skills you already possess!