“I Hate My Job”

Updated Oct 13, 20217 min
“I Hate My Job”

“I Hate My Job”

Elise GelwicksUpdated Oct 13, 20217 min
“I Hate My Job”

If you find yourself saying these words, you're not alone. A poll by Gallup found that 85% of people are disengaged at work. Don't despair because there's a lot you can do to become more motivated, happier, and healthier.

Chances are, you hate your job because you made a decision or two that you now regret. Now is the time to do some serious introspection to find out why you are feeling this way.

Here’s how to understand why you hate your job, what you can do about it, and whether you should begin a job search for a new position. This article also tells you when you should contemplate a career change and the best way to start. 

Why Do You Hate Your Job?

You can probably talk for hours about why you hate your job, but you might be missing the real reason, particularly if you are not being completely honest with yourself. Are you using your job to mask a bigger issue?

A mean boss, a long commute every day, unclear work processes, unpleasant teammates, are all common complaints (and understandable ones!). However, you could also have something more going on, like depression or burnout. 

Here are some ways to eliminate some of the more common workplace problems and perhaps uncover a deeper cause for your unhappiness with your job.

You Don’t Like Your Boss

Let’s be totally frank here. If you don’t get along with your boss, you’re not going to feel motivated. That said, it takes time to build a relationship with your boss, and it is up to you to own that relationship. Here are some steps you can take.

  • Initiate some sort of contact with your boss at least every three days so that you maintain a connection and build rapport.

  • Use one-on-one meetings with your boss to your advantage. Don’t prepare a laundry list of things to discuss. Instead, prepare just three things you want to talk about. Having a laundry list can imply that you are on the defensive rather than offensively tackling priority issues.

  • Have three solution options for any problems that you bring up with your boss in a one-on-one. That way, you can influence the decision and show your boss that you can solve problems as well as highlight them.

  • Build a mutual relationship of trust with your boss by keeping them informed and giving them the information they need to do their job. Become a valuable asset.

Be honest with yourself as to whether you have really tried to build a relationship with your boss and, if not, why not? If you have tried, and you still tell people "I hate my boss," you need to delve into your feelings a little deeper.

You Don’t Like Your Commute

For many, the problem of commuting was largely eliminated during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, now that the country and parts of the world are opening up again, commuting will once again become an issue.

According to a study by Swiss economists Alois Stutzer and Bruno S. Frey, people can disengage from work if they hate their commute.

If you think you would love your job if it weren’t for the commute, this is a problem you should definitely discuss with your boss or HR. Have some solutions ready. For example, maybe your employer would allow a flexible work schedule or the ability to work remotely. Can you work a four-day week or car-pool?

Your Career Is Stagnant

People often hit the end of the road with a dream job because they outgrow it, but this is a positive situation. At this stage in your career, you can naturally progress to a better opportunity in an organization where you have work you love, job satisfaction, and a path to advancement.

There are other reasons that your career may be stagnant. In a small family business, the politics could be such that you are overlooked for promotion, and the family members are given the top jobs.

It is worth talking to HR and to your boss to feel out the landscape. Who knows? There might be a reorganization in the works and an opportunity for you to move up. If there is no way to progress professionally you should move on, both for your career and for your happiness.

Working Conditions Are Poor

If the work environment is poor, or you are expected to work long hours, this can be dangerous to your health. These situations tend to reflect the company culture, and an unhealthy workplace culture is unlikely to change in the short term.

You Don't Like the Social Aspects

Many of us go to work for social interaction. You might not enjoy your workday because you are not being challenged or exposed to experts from whom you can learn new skills. You may not share the political views or your workmates, or you might be experiencing prejudice.

These, again, are cultural issues and not something that you can control. If this is the case, the best decision may be to look for another job.

You’re Burned Out

A study published by World Psychiatry in 2016 linked burnout to "overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism, and detachment from the job." 

When you are exhausted, all your waking hours can seem like a disaster. On bad days, everything can go wrong at once. For example, when you are tired, you are more likely to make mistakes, crash your car, not feel like exercising, or eat poorly and drink more alcohol. All of these actions will compound your exhaustion and lead to depression.

Burnout is a serious issue that you should discuss with your employer. Most employers would much rather work with you to resolve the issue than have the added expense of losing you and having to find a replacement. 

Possible options to explore are vacation (obviously!), remote work, flexible and reduced hours to improve your work-life balance, a change in your role, hiring consultants or additional employees to relieve your load, or introducing new systems to improve processes.

What to Do If It’s Time for a Life Change

If none of the solutions to the problems already mentioned would change the way you feel about your job, you could be in the wrong profession completely.

Before you make the decision to change your career, try keeping a journal so you can identify what exactly is upsetting you at work. That way, you can be sure that your dilemma is more career-specific than workplace-specific.

Next, ask yourself why you picked your career. Try to think of people who are in your chosen career and determine whether you would like to do their job. If so, what is that they have that you don’t? If you still can’t find answers, ask yourself what you are passionate about.

The thought of going back to the drawing board and starting from scratch can seem overwhelming. However, there are ways to pursue a new professional life and find a new job while you are still working. 

You could follow your passions in the evenings or at weekends, take evening classes, or try a side hustle to get you on the road to a new career. It’s surprising what you can do in a short amount of time when you are really motivated.

What to Do When You Feel Trapped

Many people are paralyzed by fear. The thought of jumping from a secure job to a new job with no guarantee of success is enough to stop someone seeking their next job, or a budding entrepreneur from pursuing their dreams. 

There is often health insurance to worry about, a mortgage to pay, children and family to care for, college tuition, and college debt.  Most people hate feeling trapped in their jobs, yet they are reluctant to start a job hunt or follow their passions.

The truth is that you might fail—most entrepreneurs do before they are profitable—but you also might succeed. Moreover, you might always regret not trying.

How to Transition to a New Career

The decision to move on from a job is a personal and difficult one. It takes sitting down and weighing the pros and cons. If your workplace is dangerous or affecting your mental health in any way, that is a good incentive to find another job. Here are some tips for a smooth career transition.

  1. Find another job before you give your two weeks' notice. Have enough funds that you can live on for six months if you decide to leave your job before then. 

  2. If you plan to become an entrepreneur, stay at your current job as long as you can so that you can take advantage of the benefits. Can you work part-time for a while during the transition phase?

  3. Explore ways you can parlay your expertise into a different role so that you don’t have to start completely from scratch. For example, if you are a software engineer and plan to switch to software sales and marketing, your technology know-how will be a huge asset.

  4. Explore financing. Student loans or Small Business Association (SBA) loans might help you kick-start your next career. For an SBA loan, you will need a detailed and viable business plan.

  5. Don’t look for jobs; look for people. Seek out people who do what you want to do and see if they will mentor you. Find out how they got where they are. Ask them what pitfalls you should look out for.

  6. Study the job market. Is there a space for you and your new career choice? Will you be in demand? What is your competition? What does the future look like in your chosen industry?

  7. Consult with experts. For your finances, talk to a finance expert. For career advice, talk to a career coach. It might be costly, but there is a reason that these people are paid for what they do. They know things that you do not, and, if you choose wisely, they can be worth every penny.

Perhaps the most important thing when you are making a career change is to take it one step at a time. First, explore all of your options before making a big change. Be honest with yourself to determine your true reasons for wanting change. 

Second, if you can, don’t leave the job you hate until you have either a job offer or a transition plan. Transition slowly and methodically. Lastly, surround yourself with a supportive network that will motivate and encourage you.

Elise Gelwicks
Elise is a communications and emotional intelligence training consultant for companies and law firms

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