You spend your workday counting the minutes til you get to go home. You find yourself doing the absolute minimum needed to get by. The night before, you’re anxious, stressed out, even feeling sick. Let’s face it: you hate your job.
Whether because you don’t get along with your coworkers, clash with the company culture, or find that the work just isn’t for you, it happens. A job you hate can make you miserable not just during work hours, but the rest of the time, too. You might feel trapped and like things will be this way forever. Don’t give up! There is a way out.
What’s Not Working?
Before we can find a solution, we need to understand the problem. What is it about this job that’s not working for you? Is it your boss or coworkers? The culture of this particular organization? Is it something about your responsibilities or role? Is it the field you’re in? Different issues will requires different responses. If you like the work but don’t get along with your supervisor, for example, then you might want to think about a similar position at a different organization. On the other hand, if it’s the work itself that’s making you miserable, it may be time to consider a bigger change of direction in your career.
Plan Your Escape
Life is too short to be stuck in a job you hate. But most of the time, it’s neither practical nor advisable to quit on the spot. Instead, you need a strategy to transition to a job that better serves your needs.
To do that, you’ll need to carefully weigh your situation and priorities. Are you under a contract? What are your financial responsibilities? Given what you know about why you hate this job, what steps will be needed to land a job you’ll like better? Do you need some new connections or training?
As you start to answer these questions, you’ll figure out what you need to do next. Maybe you want a similar job with a supervisor you click with better. In that case, it might just be a matter of polishing your resume, using your professional network, and applying for some new positions. Maybe you want to pivot to a different focus in your field. In that case, you might need to spend some time expanding your skill set and making new contacts before you apply for anything. Maybe you want to start your own business. You’ll need to do research, write a business plan, obtain financing, and so on.
Write these steps down and track your progress. Think of this as a long-term project. Finding a job you really enjoy doesn’t happen overnight–and you don’t want to trade in one job you hate for another that makes you just as unhappy. In most cases, it will take about 8 months to a year to execute an escape plan (though your timeline could be shorter or longer than that). On that note…
Take Care of Yourself
Working a job you hate is hard. Looking for a new position can be even harder. Take excellent care of yourself right now.
Make time for the things in your life that bring your happiness and purpose. Spend time with friends and family. Invest in hobbies you genuinely enjoy. When work is sapping your energy, it’s more important than ever to find other ways to recharge.
If you find yourself feeling down day after day, thinking things will never change, or questioning the point of it all, consider talking to a counselor or asking your doctor about mental health support. Employment troubles are a very common cause of depression and anxiety.
Create Purpose–and a Deadline
Those who have a “why” to live can bear with almost any “how.”
— Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
It’s difficult to keep showing up for that same old job you loathe. Remind yourself why you’re doing this. This crappy job is now the vehicle you’re using to get to your next position. If you need to stay for now due to practical concerns, like supporting your family and keeping up with the bills, get in touch with that purpose on a regular basis. A bad situation is much easier to bear if you have good reasons to do so.
And remind yourself that it isn’t forever. Once you have a sense of how long it will realistically take to get out of there, set yourself a deadline for leaving and starting a new job. A deadline helps create focus. And knowing when you can expect it to be over will help you continue the slog.
Job Searching is Your New Second Job
It comes down to this: you need a new job to replace your current one. Whether you’re trying to get hired or become your own boss, the basic dynamic is the same. You need a new way to earn an income.
You’ve developed your escape plan and set a deadline–it’s on you to make it happen. Looking for that new position is now your second job. You’ll need to dedicate regular time to this project. Even if you don’t have a lot of time, schedule some every day or every week for taking whatever action is needed: learning new skills, making connections, updating your resume, sending in applications. Keep chipping away.
Hating your job is an awful experience, and it’s a common one, too. You may be stuck in this situation for now, but you don’t have to be stuck forever. You can create an exit plan and execute it, one step at a time.
Are you unhappy at work? Career Services can help you find a way out and discover work that works for you. Call for an appointment today.
Shalom Leo Bond
Career Development Facilitator
UNM Career Services