When you’re in a job you hate, life can be miserable. You feel trapped and hopeless.
Every day you have to drag yourself out of bed to spend 8 or more hours of your day in a place where you feel unhappy, unfulfilled, or unappreciated.
When you think about how to extricate yourself and leave, you always come to the same conclusion. It just can’t happen.
- Maybe you have a family to support.
- Maybe you have many financial obligations or debt.
- Maybe you don’t believe there’s another job out there for you.
It simply feels too scary to take such a big risk.
The more you ponder the situation and try to figure out an exit strategy, the more hopeless it feels. And this feeling makes you hate your job even more. You resent your predicament. You resent that you can’t afford to leave. And you resent everything and everyone that makes you feel trapped in it. Everything about your life feels tainted with frustration and simmering anger.
All of this frustration and resentment makes this already situation situation appear worse than it really is. You’re hyper-focused on how trapped you are, and your frustration is in forefront of your mind all the time.
It’s hard to extricate yourself from this dilemma when all of your energy is sucked out by hopelessness and despair. Does any of this feel familiar to you?
Do you hate your job? Here are 5 strategies to kickstart change.
1. Define the truth.
Let’s start by clarifying why you hate your job and what exactly you hate about it. Is it the work itself? Are not challenged enough? Do you dislike your work associates or your boss? Is the work environment dysfunctional or unprofessional? Do you feel disrespected or under valued? Drill down to the specifics so you’re completely clear about the problem. Write these down.
Also, take a look at the flip side. What are some things you like about your job? Write down every positive aspect you can think of, even the smallest things — like the coffee or your cushy desk chair. Don’t allow your frustration to blind you to the parts of your job you actually like. This affords some perspective that even the worst jobs aren’t all bad.
2. What changes can you make?
Have you explored all possibilities for addressing and changing the things you hate in the job you have now? Could you shift your work responsibilities to something you like better? Have you addressed your unhappiness or concerns with your boss or management? Can you ask for change with any hope or expectation that you might get it?
If there are any small actions you can take that might make your current job more appealing, write it down and consider how you will go about taking that action in the next few weeks. Even small positive change can make a bad situation better and lift your resentment, at least for a time.
3. What part do you play?
In order to get at the full truth, examine your personal responsibility for the predicament you’re in with your job. How might you have contributed to your unhappiness and frustration? What demeanor or vibe are you projecting to your boss and work associates? Do they sense your unhappiness and resentment? How might your attitude impact their interactions with you?
Think about your past job reviews or any less-than-positive comments your boss or peers have made about you. What personality traits or behaviors might be negatively impacting your feelings about your job?
What you can do to correct or change these issues. How can you shift your attitude to improve things while still at this job? What do you need to say or do to correct any conflict or bad feelings? What will you do in the next few weeks to address these?
4. How stuck are you really?
Do you have solid evidence that you’re truly stuck? Have you conducted thorough research on other jobs that you might like more? Is your resume in order, and have you gone on any interviews? Have you thoroughly explored what your career passion is, or how you could get the education and skills necessary for a new career? Have you considered starting your own business or being a consultant? Have you met with people to network and gather information?
If you are confused about what else you could be doing in your career, work first to find your passion. Seeking out what truly inspires and excites you will make you feel more in control and motivated for change.
Before you determine you’re completely stuck, make sure you have done your due diligence and taken action to move forward. What are one or two actions you can take in the next few weeks to explore other job or career options?
5. How is your financial situation?
The main roadblock to making a job change is money. Of course you don’t want to leave your job and have no income for an indeterminate amount of time. Many of us can’t afford to take a job that pays less than our current salary.
However, if you’re financially prepared, you give yourself wiggle room to get unstuck from your unhappy job situation. You need to address debt, spending, and savings.
When you’re in debt, you feel totally trapped, so your very first order of business is to pay it off. If you’re spending more than you are making, you must put the brakes on your spending. Sometimes when we’re unhappy with our jobs and lives, we spend money to fill the void. This is a slippery slope that further entraps you.
Do whatever you can to get out of debt. One of the best books I’ve read on the subject is Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. Once you’re out of debt, begin a savings plan so that you have a 6-12 month financial cushion. You’ll need to save more if you decide to start your own business, go back to school, or take a job that pays less than you make now. (Dave shows you how in his book.)
Also, examine your lifestyle to see where you can cut back so you can afford to have a job you enjoy. Working just for the purpose of paying for material things and supporting a certain lifestyle doesn’t offer much happiness. If you are unhappy with your job, you can’t enjoy the lifestyle.
What can you do in the next few weeks to prepare yourself financially so that you can afford to have some choices around your career plans?
If you hate your job, don’t allow your misery and frustration to lock you in inertia. Even though you may feel trapped, there are always avenues for change if you are persistent and determined. You don’t have to settle for living a compromised life, spending more than half of you day doing something that makes you unhappy. Take control of your happiness and begin the process of change right now.