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After graduating from college in 2013, I started my first real-person job as the Administrative Assistant for a non-profit. I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 22-year old with my whole future ahead of me.
But within the first year or so, I started to resent my job. I’d learned everything I needed to know about the position, and I soon realized that my tasks would always be the same. Despite that, I stayed there for four years – two years longer than I planned to.
Looking back on it now, things were honestly the best they could have been for a first job. I had a lot of freedom to work on things without being micromanaged. But I didn’t feel aligned with my work. There was no sense of purpose in what I was doing.
The more I felt misaligned, the more it started to affect my mindset, my thoughts about my coworkers, and the work I was producing.
Many of us feel unfulfilled or negative about our jobs. Since we spend so much time at work, it’s only natural that our work environment influences our thoughts and feelings. Whether it’s your coworkers or your actual tasks, work can be a place of frustration, negativity, and criticism.
Although it may not feel like it, there are ways to stay positive when you hate your job. In this post, I’m sharing 8 ways to handle work when you’re unfulfilled, overwhelmed, or completely fed up.
Why Do You Hate Your Job?
Are your expectations too high?
Looking back at my first job, I think I was creating a lot of issues for myself. I wanted my job to make me happy, but perhaps I was expecting it to give me something that it couldn’t possibly give me: happiness.
I recently listened to The Life Coach School Podcast episode about Underearning, and Brooke said:
“It is not your job’s job to make you happy. You can take care of your own happiness and your own growth without relying on your job to do it.”Brooke Castillo
We all want to find a job that gives us a sense of purpose, but Brooke’s quote made me think that my expectations were unrealistic. Even now that I’m self-employed and feel aligned with my work, the work itself doesn’t always make me happy. And that’s perfectly okay because I no longer expect it to.
Is your mindset the problem?
When you start to dislike your job, you first need to address the issues you may be creating in your mind. It’s important to take responsibility and not put all the blame onto your workplace or coworkers.
Consider asking yourself the following questions:
- Am I miserable because of my expectations?
- Do I need to reframe my thoughts?
- What needs to change?
- How can I get more involved?
- How can I create my own happiness without relying on work?
This is not to say that you should settle in an unfulfilling job. But you do have to reassess your expectations and avoid putting too much pressure on your job to make you happy.
Related Post: The 5 Key Elements of a Healthy Mindset
Are your coworkers the worst?
Sometimes the way you feel about work truly has nothing to do with you. There are times when your job (or more accurately, someone you work with) makes your work-life utterly miserable.
We’ve all met negative Nancies, criticizing Cathies, and downer Debbies who make you feel like you’re not valued, respected, or appreciated. I’ve dealt with demanding people who didn’t respect my time, who looked down on me, and who didn’t trust me to do a good job.
These types of people can make your job unbearable, and it’s not something you can change simply by “thinking positively.”
Related Post: How To Deal With Negative People
How To Deal When You Hate Your Job
So how do you deal with the many factors that can affect your relationship with your job? Whatever the reason for disliking your job, here are some ways to deal with the situation:
When you feel unfulfilled:
Go all in. Have you been giving it your all lately? Could you commit to showing up more and working harder? Ask for new projects, share your ideas in meetings, and talk to your boss about other ways you can contribute. Instead of doing the bare minimum, fully commit to your work. This can give you a newfound appreciation for your job and create new opportunities for growth.
Start a side project. When work isn’t giving you the fulfillment you crave, start a project at home that gets you excited. I started my blog when I was a few months into my old job, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Further your education. Maybe your current job doesn’t align with what you want to do, but you don’t have the credentials to go into a different field. In that case, consider going back to school or enrolling in a credentialing program while working. These days, plenty of schools offer online, night, or weekend programs that fit in well with a 9-5 job, which is how I was able to get my master’s degree while working full-time.
When you feel overwhelmed:
Create rituals. At my old job, I would buy or make a cup of coffee every day at 10 am as a treat after I finished answering emails. I would also take a walk on my lunch break for some alone time, and I’d make a cup of tea at around 3 pm. I savored these little rituals because they gave me a moment of peace when work was hectic.
Related Post: How To Add More Mindfulness Into Your Daily Routine
Get organized. One of the hardest parts about my old job was trying to handle my own to-do list while having random tasks assigned to me from everyone else. The only way I could deal with this was to keep track of 1) tasks to start, 2) tasks in progress, and 3) tasks to complete. I also had to be pro-active and work on my own list when I wasn’t assigned tasks instead of procrastinating. Here are some more ways to stay organized at work.
Stand your ground. If your workload is impossible or your coworkers are taking advantage of your time, talk to your boss or HR about the issues you’re dealing with. Ask them if they have any suggestions for relieving your workload or dealing with demanding coworkers. It can be terrifying to ask for what you want, but things will never change if you tiptoe around the situation.
When your job is pure hell:
Put in your notice. Recognize that you ALWAYS have a choice, and you don’t have to stay at a job if it’s making you miserable. It’s tough to deal with the uncertainty that comes from not having a job, but the uncertainty is often less painful than staying in a job that makes your life hell.
Create an exit plan. If the uncertainty of quitting gives you major anxiety, create an exit plan instead. Set a timeline for when you want to leave and start searching for new jobs. Just don’t put it off hoping that things will get better. Take action now.