Unless you’re very fortunate, at some point in your life you’re likely to have a job you hate. You might not hate it in the beginning but sooner or later, whether it’s because management changes, your responsibilities are shift, or your coworkers become morons, you’ll wake up one day and say, “I hate my job.” And unless you are very wealthy, you’re going to have to get up and go to work regardless. So what can you do if the time comes when you despise your job? Is there any way to make it bearable?
Wanting to change or leave a job that you hate is no different from anything else. Simply complaining and moping about it won’t change anything. You’re going to have to put in some work and thought to find a better place or make the one you’re in more tolerable. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lifetime in a job you hate. What you can do:
Take a vacation
The first thing to do is take some time off and gain some perspective. Have some fun, recharge, and sleep late if you want to. Catch up on tasks around the house that are weighing on your mind while you’re at work. Whether it’s a three day weekend or a week of vacation, take time off and get away for a while. It may not be the job that you hate, it may just be that you are tired and burning out.
Make a pro and con list
If you come back from some time off and find that you still hate your job, start by making a list of the pros and cons of your job. What do you like? What do you hate? Why do you love it or hate it? Is any of this unique to this job, or will it be the case (love it or hate it) anywhere you go? You may find that the things you like about your job outnumber the things you hate, or that the negatives come with your field and will follow you until you change fields. The first step to changing something is to figure out what needs to change and why.
Figure out what you can change and how to change it
Once you’ve made your pro and con list, figure out what is within your power to change. Can you spend more time doing the tasks you enjoy and less doing the ones you hate? Is there a support staff that can take some of the mundane work off your shoulders so you can spend more time doing your job? Can you ask for responsibilities that more closely match your ideal situation? Maybe you can’t change your commute, but you can ask if you can telecommute one day a week. Maybe you can’t get rid of the moronic coworkers, but maybe you can get transferred to another division or put on a shift that has fewer morons. There are bound to be some things that are within your power to change, and those things might be enough to change the way you feel about your job.
Ask for the changes you need<
This is the hard part. You need to speak to a manager or supervisor about the things you want to see changed. You don’t want to be seen as a complainer, so clearly define your reasons for wanting the change and indicate what an acceptable outcome would be. Point out your exceptional work history and your contributions to the organization so the supervisor understands that you’re a hard worker who just needs a different situation. (Hopefully you are a good employee. If you’re not, don’t expect much in the way of compromise. You have to give to get and if you’re a lousy employee, you’ll get nothing.) Don’t whine or badmouth anyone. Professionally present your ideas and lobby for change. If management gets angry at you for asking for changes, or appears deaf to your requests it may be time to move on to step 6.
Ask yourself if it’s your field you hate
If nothing is making a difference, it may be time to be brutally honest with yourself and look at the work you do. It may not be your job, but your entire field you hate. It’s tough to admit this to yourself because no one likes to admit that something they’ve devoted their education and career to is no longer working (or never worked to begin with). But if you hate your field, simply moving to another job in that field or changing the job you do have isn’t going to fix things. You have to admit that you’ve gone down the wrong path so you can finally get on the right one.
Plan an exit strategy
If you simply cannot make your job work for you, it’s time to think about moving on. Resist the temptation to quit on the spot. Simply quitting isn’t feasible for most people so you’ll have to plan an exit that doesn’t leave you in financial trouble. If you’ve decided to look for another job in your field, quietly work on your resume and start looking for a new position. Learn some new skills so that you have more to offer a new employer and practice your interviewing skills. Now that you know what you don’t like about your job, it should be easier to identify potential employers and employment situations that will suit you. Set a realistic goal date to keep you motivated. Say, “I plan to be out of here by February,” not, “I want to leave this job.” If you know you’re working on getting out and you can see an end date, that often makes the job you hate easier to tolerate.
If you have to change fields, figure out how to do so with the least pain
Can you get an entry level job in that field and work your way up? If so, how much pay will you lose and can you afford that? Will you have to go back to school? If so, how will you pay for it? Will you keep your current job until your education is complete, or will you look for other work. Will you go to school full time or part time? During the day or at night? Don’t just say, “I’m going back to school so I can get a better job.” Know exactly why you’re going to school, what you need to learn, and how you’re going to pay for it. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up for some financial pain. You may have to endure your crummy job while you save up some money to pay for school or cover an entry level salary.
Plan for the future
Once you’re happier at work, take some steps to assure that you don’t end up in this mess again. Beef up your savings and investments and pay down your debt so that, if you find yourself hating your job again, you have more freedom to move on or go to school without encountering financial trouble. If you aren’t reliant on a paycheck every week, you have a lot more freedom to try new things and escape bad situations quicker. Sure, you’ll need to work, but you can get yourself in a financial position that enables you to miss a few paychecks without harm.
The costs to your health in terms of stress and anxiety (not to mention how your grumpiness affects your family) aren’t worth staying in a bad situation. You spend too much time at work over your lifetime to spend it being miserable. Your job situation is within your power to change. There are things you can do to make it better, either in your current job or by moving on. You do have to think about it and work to make it happen, however. Wishing for a better situation won’t help you, nor will whining about your current job. But if you hate your job, dig in, take action, and figure out how to get a job you like.