How to Survive a Job You Hate
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.
The main signs that you hate your job!
"Without work, all life goes rotten. But when work is soulless, life stifles and dies."
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
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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:
- repetitive work/routine
- no satisfaction
- direction of company
- 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.
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.
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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.
Hating your job
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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.
© 2011 Helen Murphy Howell