job hatred

Reader Y. K. writes:

I hate my job. I know it’s a bad economy, and I know if I have a job I shouldn’t be complaining, but I dread going in every single day. I should probably shake myself out of it, but I don’t know how. Any ideas?

Dear Y.K.:

The first thing I want to tell you is that you’re not alone. According to one poll, 84% of workers in America can’t wait to quit their jobs and find a new one. (Compare that with only 60% last year.) Apparently, thanks to that magical word “recession”, our bosses have gotten stingier, our work has gotten harder, and we’ve become worse workers because of it, which only adds to the cycle. There are definitely a lot of people in your boat right now.

You’re right, the economy is bad, but a lot of economists are saying it’s going to start getting better soon, and we can probably look forward to a lot of people switching jobs as the economy looks up. But until that time, it may be better to hold on and be grateful for what you have.

I have a few ideas to make you feel better about it:

Job got you down?

Job got you down? Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Change your mindset. You’ve probably got all the switches in your brain set to “negative” right now when it comes to your job. Turn that around. Force yourself to think about what you like about the job. Even if it’s only one little thing (it’s not a long commute; you get to wear jeans on Fridays; you have one fun coworker; anything), focus on that. Make it your mantra. Whenever you find yourself complaining, especially if you’re at work, force yourself to think of something else. Look at pictures of kittens if you have to. I have a friend who does push ups whenever negative feelings about work come up. It’s a good practice to apply to your whole life, too.

Be amazing at your job. One of the greatest ways to distract yourself from how much you hate what you do is just to throw yourself into it. Make it a game. Set goals. Sell more than anyone else. Smile more than anyone else. Wear yourself out being amazing at what you do. This accomplishes a few things: it distracts you from hating things so much; it gives you something to like about work (i.e. you’re good at it); and it will help you get a good reference when you do finally leave the hell hole. Try not to burn any bridges, is basically what I’m telling you. No no no, what I’m telling you is, don’t just NOT burn the bridges; actively repair them and make them beautiful. It’s harder to build something than it is to destroy it, but it’s very worth it in the end.

Watch what you say and who you say it to. It’s easy to talk trash about work, especially when you hate it, and while I think you should try to change your mindset, sometimes you’ve got to gush to someone. While it may be extremely difficult to do, I’d recommend not talking too negatively to coworkers, especially when you’re at work. Regardless of what you say or how wrong things may be, if the wrong people hear it or misconstrue it, you’re in trouble. Just assume everyone in your office talks to everyone else about everything. If you do need to complain to someone, make it an official complaint to HR. Take the rest of your complaints to your friends outside work. Yes, it is good to feel like people are in your corner, but it can come back and bite you in the ass, especially in a larger company. Go vent to the Bad Boss Contest over at Working America. Just don’t vent to Joe in the cubicle next to you unless you want Joe to tell your boss.

Find ways to make changes happen. Beyond just trying to focus on the positive, be proactive about creating more positives. Talk to your boss about getting different work, or having different opportunities. Make sure you frame it as something positive (“I’d like more responsibility”) rather than negative (“I hate it here”). Talk to HR about “new opportunities”.

Apply to other jobs. Probably not while you’re at your current job, as that would be a great way to get fired. But it can help you feel like you have some control over the situation. Yes, the economy’s bad. But there are jobs out there, and you may hit the jackpot. Remember, of course, that you run the risk of hating whatever job it is you’re going to end up in, but at least applying to new ones on the weekends or after work can give you something to hope for.

Good luck… I hope 2011 brings you a happy new job somewhere amazing!


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