How to Survive a Job You Hate

Updated on April 23, 2016

How does it make you feel?

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."

There is nothing worse during your working years to be in a job that you hate. It can have a negative effect on all aspects of your life. People experience problems with physical and mental health, relationships, finance etc.

I had some of these hate-job signs a few years ago so I know what it feels like to be in such a depressing position. For me, it was so bad, all of my spare time, days off and every holiday was spoiled by the thought of eventually having to go back to my loathsome job!

So if you are in that position right now, take heart. It won't last forever and there are things you can do to improve the situation.

Doing a job you hate can have negative effects on both your physical, mental and social well being.
Doing a job you hate can have negative effects on both your physical, mental and social well being. | Source

The main signs that you hate your job!

"Without work, all life goes rotten. But when work is soulless, life stifles and dies."
Albert Camus

First of all don't mistake temporary boredom with hating your job. Most low periods pass within a few weeks or so.

When you truly hate what you are doing, you suffer relentless feelings of desperation, frustration and anxiety.

To clarify this a little more, here are some experiences you may find familiar:

  • When you wake in the morning the thought of going to work makes you feel sick, anxious, depressed, desperate etc.
  • You spend increasing periods of time trying to motivate yourself before you actually manage to do any work.
  • Your feelings while at work are all negative.
  • Your time off is spent worrying about going back to work.
  • You may take alcohol to blank out thoughts about your job.
  • Your sick leave record is increasing.
  • You have no motivation or any sense of fulfillment with the work you do.
  • You see the work you do as pointless and stupid.
  • You see each day as one long drudge.
  • You're thoughts about your employer are mostly negative ones.
  • You continually watch the clock wishing it was time to leave.
  • You're feelings of not being appreciated or being taken for granted are increasing, making you resentful.
  • You feel there are no challenges or goals to reach in the work you do.
  • You may feel that your work load is constantly heavy with no reprieve.
  • You despise some of your co-workers for just 'getting on with the job'.
  • You often feel aggression towards your boss or co-workers.
  • You often imagine what it would be like to just walk out.

The list is not complete but it does give some insight in to the types of feelings associated with hating the job you are in.

Bullying at work

Have you ever had to cope with bullying at work either from a boss/supervisor or work colleagues?

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Identifying the biggest problems

"Find a job you like and you add five days to every week." H. Jackson Brown

Now that you have acknowledged and clarified your feelings about work; you now need to focus on what the specific problem areas are.

First of all, list the specific issues that cause you problems. For example:

  • boredom
  • location/environment
  • travelling
  • pay
  • hours
  • co-workers
  • boss
  • supervisor
  • repetitive work/routine
  • harassment/bullying
  • unchallenged
  • no satisfaction
  • ethics/culture
  • direction of company
  • undervalued
  • over-worked
  • under-worked
  • dead-end, no prospects.
  • over-looked for promotion

You can probably think of others so add these to your list.

When you have completed your main list, divide it into two parts. For example, list 'A' will include things that you will be able to

  • Change – hours, start and finish times, flexi-time to fit in better with your commitments and lifestyle.
  • Increase – responsibility for more job satisfaction
  • Reduce – workload by negotiating with your boss/supervisor. Reduce general stress by using simple daily techniques.
  • Stop – bullying, irritating co-workers by speaking to those involved or going to your manager/supervisor.

The ideas listed above are only examples so have a think about your own personal situation and fill your list in from your experiences.

List 'B' are the things that you cannot change.

  • Your boss.
  • Location/environment where your work place is situated.
  • Pay/hours.

As we can see, for some people issues such as pay and hours might be negotiable with some employers. For many others however, they have no option but to accept the hours and pay with no chance of improving this situation. Again you need to complete your lists based on your own personal circumstances.

What does lists ‘A’ and ‘B’ tell you about your job?

Sometimes if we can alter a few aspects of our job, this can be enough to make it a bit more positive. Think about the areas where you may be able to improve things and also write down ideas on how you might be able to change them to benefit you.

However, if you find that your 'B' list is far longer than your 'A' list then you do need to think and plan for your future - in other words a new job elsewhere might be the best and only option to solve your problems.

However, in your haste to quit your nightmare job, don't make the mistake of jumping from one hell-hole situation into another.

Taking the time to look around and work on what's really suitable for you can save many hours of frustration and stress later on.

Being in a job you hate can feel like being in a prison.
Being in a job you hate can feel like being in a prison. | Source

10 Ways a Positive Attitude Can Help You Win

Reduce the stress and start to change things

“We often miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work” Thomas A. Edison

Once you have your lists completed, along with your own ideas, assess on a scale of 1-5 how bad the problem is.

Firstly, from list 'A' - on a scale of 1-5, where five is 'intolerable' and number one is 'can put up with it'; give a mark to everything on your list.

  • 1 = can put up with it
  • 2 = irritating
  • 3 = difficult
  • 4 = very difficult
  • 5 = intolerable

Remember this is the list that you feel you may be able to do something about.

The issues on your list that are numbered 1 or 2, put aside and forget about them, at least for now. We want to concentrate on the concerns that rate higher.

Subjects that are numbered 3 or higher will need to be altered in some way in order for them to become more bearable.

For example, if it’s your workload, is there a way that you can re-organise work so that you do the bulk when you are your best – perhaps the morning – and lesser amounts at the end of the day?

You can also try speaking to your manager/supervisor about how this can be administered better for you?

If co-workers or other people have scored highly, talk to them personally. Always be polite and above all keep calm. Try if possible to find common ground between you so that you can at least have some kind of stress-free working relationship. Remember you don’t have to like people, but it makes it easier if you can at least work calmly together and with mutual respect.

If you are finding your work boring see if you can take some further training in order to expand your skills. In this way you might be able to transfer to another department. Any form of training will always be of benefit if you want to expand your skills and make your work experience more positive. If this isn’t possible do think about further study either at night classes or through distance learning.

If it is the hours that you find difficult, see if you can work a more flexible time schedule. Many employers now have some form of flexi-time or flexi-working.

Let’s now look at the big problems you may have on your ‘B’ list.

Many of the changes you need to make can happen by firstly making a few changes within yourself.
Many of the changes you need to make can happen by firstly making a few changes within yourself. | Source

Hating your job

Have you ever or are you in a job that you hate so much it's having an effect on your life?

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What about the big problems at work?

The issues on your ‘List B’ are of course what cause the most stress.

They are difficulties that either you cannot change or it would be extremely difficult to do so.

Examples could be:

The physical location of the workplace - significant if distance to travel is an issue or you work long hours with a tedious journey back home.

The kind of business it is - manufacturing, services, health and so on. Each type of employment can have it’s own particular problems.

In areas where there is heavy lifting, physical injury, strains and extreme fatigue can become a problem. However, don’t underestimate jobs that don’t involve heavy lifting. Work that is mentally stressful – either due to boredom or intense pressure – can in fact do more damage to your health physically and mentally.

What are the ethics and practice of your employers? Do they treat their staff with dignity and respect? Do they welcome open discussion with employees? Alternatively, are they the type that treats their workers as numbers and not people?

You have two choices with things you cannot change. Either attempt to reduce the impact by some of the methods used with list 'A' - not always possible. Or it could mean you do have to look for alternative employment.

Obviously this is no easy matter and there’s no point in rushing into another job when after a few weeks you find yourself in the same predicament as your previous work.

Being patient and doing thorough research will be of long term benefit to you. This is the time for a lot of soul searching and deciding what it is you really want from your working life. What work do you feel you’re really suited to? What particular problems do you want to try to avoid in a new job and so no.

However, what do you do if you can't leave? That your circumstances at the present time make it impossible?

Obviously this is more difficult, but again there are things that can be tried to make your situation better.

If you are bored and you need more of a challenge then discuss this with your boss. Do you know if they are aware of how you feel? Maybe they don't and haven't considered that you might want to have a bigger share of responsibility.

Your work-load is too high or too much responsibility is being placed on you? Again negotiate with your immediate supervisor.

What is the reason for the workload? Are some colleagues not doing their share? Could the work routine be modified to make it flow better? If you have an idea along these lines then why not suggest it?

Why do you feel you have too much responsibility? Is it due to lack of training, lack of confidence or some other factor?

These may all depend on how well you get on with your boss. Is there another supervisor or colleague that could give you support? If not why not take the bull by the horns and go for it anyway - you never know, your boss might be feeling the same way as you do and would be grateful for any suggestions.

Would a transfer to another department help you? If you are concerned that you don't have the skills or qualifications to work in other departments here is a few tips.

Look at you companies newsletters, staff bulletin boards for in-house training courses - most companies have them. Start to work on developing new practical skills. Just as important are your communication skills, team skills, inter-personal skills. Ensuring that you work on all these areas will benefit you during any interview inside or outside your current employment.

In addition, think about joining company activities and clubs. You will meet a variety of people, get to know them and you will also get a broader view of the company you work for and so what options are open to you.

One further point – if things are so bad that finding alternative employment is your only option, before grabbing the next available job that comes along, be sure that you're difficulties are only work related and not personal.

By this I mean that you may be going through a bad patch, physical illness, depression and this has led to difficulties at work.

If these issues are not resolved you will simply carry this baggage into another place of work. Within a few weeks you will find that you are back in the awful position of once again hating your job.

So along with making up your 'A' and 'B' lists have a deep think about your physical and mental well-being. Ask yourself a few questions - what is your attitude and approach to work? Is there anything about you personally that you could change to make things better?

If you are satisfied that it is your work situation that is causing the distress and not you personally, you should go ahead and try to find a better job elsewhere.

Whatever your situation is, one very useful tip is to practice positive thinking techniques. This is not some airy fairy scheme that attracts the gullible. Even in science these methods are being used. I can vouch for them myself as they have helped me in the past – they do work!

I hope this hub has been useful to you and if you have any experiences or comments you would like to share then lets us know by leaving a message below.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2011 Helen Murphy Howell


Submit a Comment
  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    5 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Couldn't agree more. I think its sad that so many people are not able to follow - for life - the career they chose initially.

  • londonaccountants profile image

    Goringe Accountants 

    5 years ago from London, UK

    You should never do a job you dont enjoy - it will make you ill one way or another and life is too short. It's just sad there aren't more 'jobs for life' these days as I think people would settle more into specific careers more. Jobs typically get easier the longer you do them...

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    I agree and I look forward to reading it.

  • DonnaCaprio profile image

    Donna Caprio Quinlan 

    6 years ago from Newburyport, MA

    Thanks for the suggestion. I think it will make a great topic for me for a future hub.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi DonnaCaprio, many thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the article. That's a very good point you make about attending classes and I agree, it would give people a boost while they are still in a job they dislike. I think this should be added to the hub or perhaps you would like to follow it on with a hub of your own?

  • DonnaCaprio profile image

    Donna Caprio Quinlan 

    6 years ago from Newburyport, MA

    Terrific article! I think it is really sad when someone spends their whole life working at a job they hate. You offer some good suggestions. If it is a new career direction that is desired, taking some classes to prepare for a job transition will help not only with being prepared for a new career, but it can make the remaining time on the job bearable because there is an end in sight. I enjoyed the two photos you posted with the caricatures.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Mr LD - this is a really interesting reply to this hub and I do know exactly what you are feeling - I have been there and not that long ago. I think what I found so difficult to cope with was the feeling of being trapped. Stuck in this awful, stinking rut, with no way out. I used some of the tactics described in the hub to survive and basically had to wait it out until time passed and things changed. I wished at that time I had known about Hub Pages, because like you I would have used it as an escape as well. I just kept telling myself that nothing lasts forever and that a change will come eventually - it did and unexpected when it did happen. So keep in there as much as you can. I know, there is nothing worse than a job you hate it takes over your life in so many ways, but keep looking and keep trying to get those doors open somewhere.

  • Mr Love Doctor profile image

    Mr Love Doctor 

    7 years ago from Puerto Rico

    In this economy, so many people are out of work, even people I know, that I often suffer from intense guilt for detesting, hating, abhorring my job. But I do, and there's no way around it. This is one of the reasons I escape here to HubPages, to writing my Hubs and answering the questions people send me sometimes, and sharing with the awesome community here. I wish you could write a how-to on getting over work guilt.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    8 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi gm,

    Many thanks for you great comment and input. I do agree with you - if it's possible financially of course - because there is nothing more soul destroying than being in a job you hate. I've seen people go through this,(it has happened to me as well), and it negatively affects all other aspects of your life as well as being detrimental to health.

    Many thanks for stopping by.

  • gmwilliams profile image

    Grace Marguerite Williams 

    8 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

    This is a great hub. When I started work, I worked at a job I thoroughly detested. However, if I had to do it over again, I would not have taken the job and/or would have resigned within a minute of having that job. My advice: DON'T work at a job that you HATE. Better to be penniless for the duration and wait to get a great job than to work tirelessly at a "gray and dull" job.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    8 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Cloverleaf,

    The serenity prayer is an excellent idea and would definitely help in many situations. It's surprising what a few inspirational words can do for you in crap areas of your life. Many thanks for stopping by.

  • Cloverleaf profile image


    8 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

    So many relatable points here, Seeker7! It makes me think about the serentity prayer "give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference". Great hub, thank you!

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    8 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Christine,

    Many thanks for stopping by and great to hear from you again. I wrote this hub when I had particularly strong memories of being stuck in a job that I had grown to loath. Being made redundant is not usually a positive thing, but when this happened to me, I honestly felt that I had been given a whole new life. I have been so happy and content in my present worklife that it almost seems like a miracle some days. So glad you liked the hub, many thanks for responding.

  • ChristineVianello profile image


    8 years ago from Philadelphia

    I enjoyed this article. I do like my job most of the time. But there are times that, I really can not stand it. These are great tips to be more positive.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    9 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Ranzi,

    Great to hear from you and many thanks for your comment. I agree with you, there is nothing worse than being stuck in crap job that you loathe! I've been there and stuck because of financial reasons and it's hell. The four desks do look like a mouse maze don't they? I hadn't thought of that until you pointed it out - no wonder people are so negative at work if this is how some of them spend their days - poor souls!

  • Ranzi profile image

    Cut The Bullshit 

    9 years ago from All Over

    Great article! A job is where we spend most of our time in. I think the most important thing is getting along with co workers. This hub is great and useful for those who are trapped in a job due to financial reasons. I love the photos and that photo of the four desks taken from above reminded me of a mouse maze. :)

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    9 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi kimho39,

    Many thanks for stopping by and for your really interesting comment. I would certainly agree with what you say - I was in that position as well, stick it out for a while longer and wait for promotion. But it got to the point, like you, that I had to consider my well-being over promotion/more money. The decision was taken out of my hands when a lot of us were made redundant. It may seem strange to say this, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me and gave me a fresh start in life and renewed my outlook as well.

  • kimh039 profile image

    Kim Harris 

    9 years ago

    this is really helpful, seeker. I had a job I hated but it was hard to leave because of all the benefits and promotion potential and how far I had already come....but I hated it! It took me a year of hating it to finally decide to leave it. Except for the fact that I would now be drawing a fat pension, I haven't regretted it, and chose a career field that was much more satisfying for me. I read about some research that shows that having a job you hate is worse than being unemployed - from a mental health point of view.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    9 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi, CMHypno,

    Thanks for stopping by and for the excellent observation. I totally agree with you and that is why I am working so hard towards total self-employment rather than part time. It is absolutely soul destroying going to work when you hate every minute of it and as you so rightly say, the time being wasted in your life doing something you dislike so much is frustrating.

  • CMHypno profile image


    9 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

    You've just reminded me of all the positives associated with being self-employed! Ideally everyone should be doing a job that they enjoy, as time is too precious spending it doing something you hate.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    9 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi, g82hug,

    Smashing to have you stop by again and for the great comment. Glad you liked it and hope some people will get benefit from it. There is nothing more soul destroying than having to work long grueling hours in some place you hate. I've been there and it's a nightmare. Many thanks again.

  • g82hug profile image


    9 years ago from San Pedro, CA

    This is great! I know many people can I'm sure they will find this article as useful as I did!

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    9 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi - Marketingsceptic - many thanks for stopping by and for your lovely comment. There's nothing worse than being in a job you hate - I've been there. Hope your friends do get some benefit from the article but more importantly find some happiness in their work life. Many thanks again.

    Attemptedhumour - nice to hear from you again and many thanks for stopping by. Great comment and I'm sure your wife is a real sweetheart even if she is the boss! LOL Many thanks again!!

  • attemptedhumour profile image


    9 years ago from Australia

    I used to have a few crummy jobs pre 1983, started work in 66 so there were a few. But now i'm my own boss so i do as i please, until i get home of course. Then there's only one boss, and i'm glad when she goes out. Cheers

  • marketingskeptic profile image


    9 years ago from San Diego, CA

    Loved this article!

    Even though I love my current job, I have a couple of friends who definitely hate theirs. I'll be forwarding this article to them. Good job! =]


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