What Can You Do When You Hate Your Job but Can’t Quit?
If you hate your job, you’re not the only one who feels that way. It’s hard to say exactly how many people hate their jobs, but according to different studies, somewhere between 20% and 40% of employees report feeling unhappy at work.
Although hating your job is a common human experience, that doesn’t make it less difficult to handle. It can be mentally and emotionally draining, so you run the risk of burnout and it’s taking a toll on your overall health and well-being.
But what to do when you hate your job and can’t quit because you have tons of bills and other responsibilities that can’t be neglected? If quitting a job you hate simply isn’t an option at the moment, it’s important to prioritize your own mental health and well-being.
That’s quite possible – you just need to have the right mindset. In this article, we’re going to talk about how to survive a job you hate and provide you with suggestions to help you take charge when you feel stuck.
What Are the Psychological Effects of Hating Your Job?
For most of us, work is a necessity that takes up a significant part of our lives. Actually, we spend one-third of our lives at work. So why is it that so many of us don’t like our jobs? There are different reasons, and some of the most common ones are:
- Unfair pay or lack of benefits
- A toxic workplace culture, injustice, and unfairness
- Poor communication
- A bad boss
- Long hours
- An unpredictable or inflexible schedule
- No work-life balance
- Boring tasks
- High demand and low recognition
- No opportunity for advancement
- A long and stressful commute
Whatever the reason, not loving your job can be stressful, and chronic stress is dangerous because it can harm your physical and mental health. Hating your job can:
- Make you gain weight due to stress eating or lack of energy to exercise
- Harm your immune system, making you prone to common, minor illnesses
- Increase your risk of serious illness like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer
- Disrupt your sleep and cause insomnia
- Increase your risk for developing anxiety and depression and may lead to adverse mental health and well-being outcomes
- Ruin your personal relationships
- Lower your motivation and passion and have a negative impact on your job performance
- Kill your confidence and lower your self-esteem
So what can you do if you feel bored, uninspired, unappreciated and hate your job, your boss, your company, or even everything about your work life? Whatever the reason for your job dissatisfaction, it’s important to remove the stress factors, enhance your motivation, and allow yourself to think about new possibilities.
How to Stay Positive When You Hate Your Job
First of all, you should understand that no job is worth your mental or physical health. It’s in your best interest to try to find work that’s a better fit. Then you’ll be happier.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the privilege to quit a job they’re not passionate about and still be financially secure. So you shouldn’t quit your current job without a backup plan. While no job is perfect, you should approach employment from a realistic perspective. It makes sense to carefully plan to exit the company when the time is right.
That takes time, and the opportunity to leave a job that makes you feel miserable doesn’t usually happen as quickly as you’d like. So here are some tips on how to cope with a job you hate until you find a better opportunity.
Make a Plan
When you work in a position that you know isn’t right for you, it’s not uncommon to feel hopeless or just stuck, and then your mind can’t expand to consider new professional opportunities. You should fight the urge to succumb to helplessness. Instead, you need to take your power back and create a plan.
Take time to self-reflect and look honestly at the current situation. It’s important to figure out what’s happening and understand the root cause of why you hate your job. Maybe it’s something about you – your personal life and relationships with other people, your expectations and choices – not something about the job.
If it’s you, you can’t run away from yourself and will likely bring your problems to your next job. If you could just admit that and work on changing your attitude, your work life would be more bearable.
Think about things you might like about your workplace and list all the things that you don’t like. Maybe you’re just going through a tough time, and there’s something you could be doing differently to be happier at work. It’s important to get clear about what your issues are. That will help you avoid repeating the same mistakes.
Consider what you would prefer to be doing and what steps you could take to get there. If you aren’t sure how you can best use your strengths or what fields interest you, or you lack confidence, a good idea is to work with a career coach or a counselor.
Set goals for yourself to specify what you’re looking for in terms of responsibilities, compensation, benefits, and company culture. Plan your exit and create a schedule for how long you have to stay on the course.
Start making connections in the company or industry you want to work in. Try to make the most of your current job to expand your network and look for development opportunities and training to learn new skills – that will make your resume more attractive to future employers. Consider updating your resume and starting your job search.
To make things more manageable, take small steps and focus on doing one thing at a time. Think of one small thing you could do right now that would move you toward your goal. Taking small actions that move you forward will help you feel much more empowered. Be patient and give yourself plenty of time to find a new position. And when that day comes, leave on a positive note.
Focus on the Bright Side
It’s up to you to decide how you see the world, but your brain believes what you tell it. If you feel and think negatively about your current job for a long time, you give your unpleasant emotions and negative thoughts power.
Change your attitude and allow more happiness into your life. Positive thinking isn’t magic, so it won’t make all of your problems disappear. But developing a positive mindset will help you approach life challenges with a positive outlook and expectations of positive results.
If you start your work day thinking about how you hate your job and the place where you work, you’ll most likely have a horrible day. But if you make an effort to start your day positive and relaxed, thinking about good things, your day is sure to be better.
Then, you’ll find that all the aspects of your job that usually cause you frustration will feel more manageable. You’ll be able to focus on changing things you can control, letting go of things you can’t control, looking for ways to improve situations, and learning lessons along the way.
Remember that when you’re positive and optimistic, you’re more interested in what you’re doing and more likely to see opportunities you may miss out on with a negative mindset.
Gratitude involves expressing thanks or appreciation for something and recognizing the positive things in our lives, which we often take for granted. It helps us appreciate the people we know and the things we do and makes us more optimistic. Gratitude can also help you find meaning and purpose in your job.
If you practice writing a gratitude journal regularly, over time, it rewires your brain and becomes your default way of looking at the world. Eventually, you’ll start noticing lots of good things around you without having to be proactive about finding them.
Concentrate on the good instead of the bad and that will help you change the way you look at your job. Focus on the positive aspects of your professional life for which you can be grateful. For example, you can create a list of things that you like about your workplace – things you like to do, your co-workers, your clients, the knowledge you’ve gained, and the skills you’ve learned.
Remember that your current job is just a step in your career journey and not your destination. Focus on results you’ve achieved and completed projects that you’re proud of. Think about how your current job connects to your desired career.
Try to make your unsatisfying job more tolerable. If there are activities that you can’t stand, you could talk to your manager and ask them to delegate some of them to someone else. Then sign up for projects that excite you and focus on them instead. Try to carve out time to talk with co-workers you enjoy spending time with and make better use of microbreaks and lunchtime.
Start setting healthy boundaries and putting yourself first. If you’re working 60-hour weeks, stop. Don’t say yes to every new project that comes along. Learn to say no. Set limits and communicate them clearly to your colleagues.
Establish work-life boundaries to protect your time at home. That’s especially important if you’re a parent. Remember that coping with a difficult job situation isn’t just about your own self-care. You should also be a good example to your kids and do your best to protect them from your stress.
Take Care of Yourself
Being miserable at work may negatively affect your personal life and your relationships, but if you aren’t satisfied with your life, it can make the situation at work a lot worse too. So you should reflect on what’s actually causing your stress, sadness, or anxiety. Talk with a trusted friend about how you’re feeling or find a therapist to help you through this phase. That could help you figure out how to make positive changes inside and outside of work.
Therapy is an invaluable tool for improving workforce mental health.
Make time for activities that you enjoy – plan a trip, go to yoga once a week, schedule a regular workout, try meditation, start a new hobby, take long walks in nature, and listen to soothing music. And if you aren’t feeling appreciated at work, you can consider volunteering or joining a professional organization. That can help you find that sense of purpose. Remember, you need to feel satisfied to survive the job you hate until you’re able to transition to a better one.
It can be very depressing to have a job you’re unhappy with but can’t quit. But the worst thing you can do is think that there’s no way out and that you’ll be stuck at your current job forever.
Remember your happiness is completely within your control. And it’s never too late to change your life and move on to something more rewarding and satisfying. So make a plan and focus on it, taking one step at a time to achieve your new career goals. Be kind to yourself and reach out to your friends, family, or a therapist for support.
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Iryna is a passionate content writer and life-long learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She has a Bachelor's degree in Health Sciences and Special Education and is studying for a Master's degree in Psychology. Iryna uses her knowledge and writing skills to create well-researched articles that educate readers and empower them to take charge of their mental health and practice self-care.Read more