When you’re looking in the mirror and saying to yourself, ‘I hate my job’, something needs to change. In this article we’ll cover 10 strategies to help you manage the situation and move forward.
I’ve been in this place, and it’s horrible. More than once in my career I’ve been going to work dreading the week ahead. People often talk about the ‘Sunday Blues’, although to be honest it assumes you’re able to switch off at the weekend and it just goes away. Even after you’ve survived the week, your weekend can be taken up in decompressing from work, rather than really enjoying your time off. Your partner, friends or family can end up bearing the brunt of your unhappiness at work, which can impact on your relationships. So it’s important to address this before it has a wider impact on your life.
As hard as this feels right now, there are ways to improve this situation. This is not forever.
And you aren’t alone. A Gallup survey in 2017 found that 85% of people were not engaged or motivated at work. That’s huge. Whilst it is not a measure of whether people hate their jobs, it gives you a good indication that things aren’t as rosy as they often appear. Chances are some of your fellow colleagues feel the same way.
In this article I’ll share with you my top 10 strategies for dealing with a job you hate. Many of these I have used personally in difficult times and know that they work.
What to do when you hate your job – 10 strategies
The tips I’m going to share with you cover two different themes.
Part 1 – is to help you manage the situation you’re in and create enough physical and mental space for you to think positively and find good ways forward, rather than jumping at the first solution to the problem – which can often feel like ‘resign and get the hell out of there’.
Part 2 – We’ll move onto tips for exploring your options and deciding what the future might look like if you left your job. If that’s what you’re looking for and you want to skip straight to Part 2 – exploring new opportunities, go right ahead.
Part 1: Managing the situation and staying positive
1. Create some mental and physical distance
When you say to yourself ‘I hate my job’, it’s going to be hard to have a balanced view and make sense of how to deal with this situation. Strong negative emotions can hijack the more rational part of your brain. You need to create some mental or physical distance – or both.
Creating physical distance
Can you take a break, a holiday, even an extra day to create a long weekend?
Can you reduce your hours in some way? For example if you’re doing a lot of overtime, could this be reduced?
Is there a way you can change your work location or pattern of hours to create less exposure to the negativity you’re feeling toward work?
If there are specific people you can’t stand, can you adjust your work habits or patterns to spend less time in their presence?
Creating mental distance
Do things which help you switch off and clear your mind when you’re outside work.
This could be listening to music, practising mindfulness or meditation, going for a run, exercise, yoga. Headspace, Calm and Portal are among the many mindfulness apps out there which can help you create a bit of calm and mental space.
Try to occupy your brain entirely with something else not work-related.
2. Focus on your time and energy
Eat healthily – this may seem an odd addition, but you need energy to get yourself to a more positive place, whether it’s resolving your situation at work or finding a new path.
Exercise – research has shown this to be a really important way to boost your mood and your energy, as exercise promotes feel good chemicals in the brain which reduce stress and anxiety.
3. See the positives
While are you busy working out how to improve the situation, taking a different perspective and seeing what could be positive right now can be very helpful.
Try repeating out loud every morning what you are grateful for in life. Write yourself a list, and read it every single day. It might sound strange but it helps you change your perspective and realise that hating your job is only one aspect of your whole life.
Identify what skills and strengths you have developed while in this job
Ask yourself what you can positively learn from the situation which could help you in the future?
4. Spend more time doing things you enjoy
Hating your work is a big drain on your physical and mental energy. Recharge your batteries by doing things you really like to do.
Chances are, you’re so focused on your work situation that you’re not as interested in what’s going on in other parts of your life, for example your hobbies and interests. Spending more time with these things will help you rebalance and draw more positive energy from them. Are there things you enjoy which you’ve stopped doing altogether? When I was in a really negative place in the past job, this really helped me to regroup, feel a sense of joy in life and see things differently.
5. Explore options to solve the problem
In any situation where things feel difficult, three things can change:
- The other person/party
- The wider situation
Applying this to your work situation:
The other person/party – perhaps specific individuals, or the wider organisation
- What would need to change for you to stop hating your job?
- What options might exist to make this change happen?
- Are difficult conversations required to let others know how you feel and seek support in improving things?
The wider situation
- Is there scope within your organisation to move to a different role, team, division, or change your responsibilities in some way so you enjoy your job more?
- Are there opportunities to take a secondment?
- If you’re not sure, who can you speak to, to find out about wider opportunities?
- Are there any changes coming up within your organisation which might make the situation look different in a few months or a year from now?
- Looking outside your organisation, are there other roles which might interest you?
Sometimes what is needed is a change in how you respond to the situation. If the above two options don’t work or can’t be achieved, all that is left is for you to choose how you want to respond. This is about resilience, and managing your own emotional state which can feel very hard to do at times. But I can speak from personal experience in a previous role where I had come to hate my job. Shifting my own response and accepting I couldn’t change some of the things I desperately wanted to, was what took me to a much more positive and proactive place.
Ideas for changing your own mindset when you hate your job
- Accept what you can’t change
- Practice gratitude (see point 3 above)
- Get support – see point below!
6. Get support
If you are struggling to work out how to deal with the situation and move forward positively, finding a friendly ear is a good thing to do.
Is there a friend, relative or someone else in your life that you can confide in about your job and work situation? We all need support at times. Consider carefully who to confide in, sharing your loathing for your job with colleagues might be tempting, but it can create a cycle of negativity. You also want to be sure your views don’t get back to managers and others in the organisation you wouldn’t like to hear them – until you’re ready.
If you’re really struggling to stay positive and feel your work situation might be affecting your mental health, then it may be worth speaking to a counsellor to get support.
Part 2: Exploring new opportunities
7. Start exploring life outside
Identifying and exploring new options outside your job and take some time. If you can, give yourself the space to do this before you have to make any decisions about moving on.
Start thinking about what you’d really love to see you in your future? What would that be like? You don’t need to attach a job title to it yet, this approach can help you figure out if you’re heading in the right direction or not. Try the postcard from the future exercise which can help you start creating your vision for what you really want.
Who do you know that does an interesting job, that you could talk to? Why not set up informal conversations and just ask them about the job they do, what they love about it, what the challenges are, how they got into this type of work? Who else did they know that you should speak to if you want to know more about certain things? These conversations don’t need to lead anywhere, but they can really help you get a different perspective and understand options outside of your own job.
8. Find another outlet for your talents
Find a way you can use your skills and what you’re really good at in a positive way. For example you could start a project, deliver a workshop, train somebody, start a business on the side, or take a secondment doing something interesting.
Could you volunteer to help or support others, whether this is inside or outside of work?
9. Start planning your finances
Changing jobs or making a career change may require some financial flexibility on your part. Jumping out of a job you hate and leaving yourself with no income isn’t ideal, so how can you plan for the possibility that you need to leave this role?
Consider where you could increase your income, or cut your costs to create some savings. A good cushion to aim for is a few months salary as a minimum – the more you have the more flexibility it gives you.
10. Work with a career coach
Do you want to explore new career options? If you want to make a change of direction then a career coach can help you out of this hole and into a much more positive career path.
This is the work I do with many clients – often they have been so focused on their career path that they haven’t figured out what else is out there for them, or how to get there. They often feel trapped and unable to make a change. Part of them says to stay put because there is more security with what they know. But the other part desperately wants change, and that leaves them feeling increasingly unhappy in their work.
Does that sound like you?
Working with a coach can make a big difference, and I’ve helped my clients work out what they want, and move from jobs they hate into new work and career paths which they love. If you’d like to find out more about why you need a career coach, read my article on this.
I’ve created a few resources to help you become clear on what you want and how to move forward with your new career.
You can get these free resources by subscribing to my newsletter.
If you’re considering a change in your career and would like some more support, please contact me. We can talk about what’s happening for you right now, what is getting in your way, and how to get started.