Do you hate your job? If you do, you aren’t alone. According to several studies, about 60 percent of all workers are unhappy with their jobs and want to quit. The reasons for unhappy workers are wide ranging, from dissatisfaction with the work itself to poor management, unpleasant co-workers, low pay, and more.
5 Ways to Stop Hating Your Job — Without Quitting
On the surface, the solution to being miserable on the job appears simple: Just quit. Even if we have fantasized about walking out in a blaze of glory, though, for most people quitting simply isn’t an option. After all, bills don’t pay themselves, and it’s almost never a good idea to leave one job without having another lined up, and it’s not always easy to find new employment.
So does that mean that you’re doomed to a job that you hate forever? No. In fact, you can turn around even the worst job, and actually grow to enjoy your work again — even if you’re convinced that your boss is evil personified and if you have to fill out one more report, you might staple your own head to the desk.
1. Make an Exit Plan
So maybe you can’t quit your job today, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t ever be able to leave. If you begin developing an exit plan now, you’ll be prepared to jump on new opportunities when they present themselves. Think about what you really want to do with your life, and what it will take to get there. For example, if you want to become a social worker, what steps can you take now to reach that goal? Going back to school for a master’s, finding places where you can volunteer, and setting a deadline for leaving your current position can all reinvigorate you and give you a purpose, as well as create a light at the end of the tunnel that allows you to hate the day-to-day grind a little less.
2. Practice Energy Management
Human nature is to remember the negative — and focus on it. However, constantly focusing on how much you hate your job sucks the energy right out of you. Complaining to and with your co-workers, friend, and family about the miseries of your workplace might feel like helpful venting, but if it’s all you do, it’s making things worse. Instead, identify the positive aspects of your job, and choose to focus on them. If your co-workers are Negative Nancy’s, tune them out and try to change the conversation. Build relationships with people who are motivating and positive, and your energy will return — and you will eventually feel better about your job.
3. Build a Better Life Outside of Work
Work is a big part of your life, but it shouldn’t be your whole life. Your career should not define you. To not be consumed by your work — and your unhappiness there — focus on building a fulfilling and happy existence outside of the office. Take up a hobby, make time for friends and family, book a long-delayed vacation, anything that gives you something to look forward to outside of work, and helps make the drudgery worthwhile.
4. Establish Boundaries
One common reason for workplace unhappiness is feeling unappreciated due to a failure to establish boundaries; that is, unhappy workers often work long hours for little return, fail to delegate tasks, or even take on their co-worker’s responsibilities without feeling appreciated for their efforts. By establishing boundaries — you will leave the office at 5 p.m., you will delegate tasks when appropriate, you will say no to requests — you’ll feel more in control of your time, and less like you’re giving more than you receive. That’s not to say that you won’t be a team player and pitch in when absolutely needed, but don’t be a doormat.
5. Get Better at Your Job
Finally, when you get really good at your job, you might find that you like it more. Are there skills that you can learn to help you do your job better — skills that would be marketable in another position down the road? What are the tasks that you hate the most? Can you find a better way to do them that is less cumbersome or tedious? Instead of spending your energy complaining about the worst parts of your job, look for ways to make them better. In the process, you’ll expand your own skill base and the list of achievements you can list on your resume.
Being unhappy at work can affect all aspects of your life, from your health to your relationships. If you can’t leave, though, you can make the situation better. By focusing on the positive and your own career goals, you can even turn a miserable job into an important career milestone.