I Hate My Job – A Familiar Refrain?

Painted Hills, Oregon

© 2013 Christy King

“If I had the guts to say…Take this job and shove it, I ain’t workin’ here no more.”

- Johnny Paycheck

How many of you identify with these lyrics? Many people spend 40 or more hours a week in jobs they can’t stand. Maybe you’ve muttered I hate my job under your breath at work. Maybe you’ve said it while venting to your friends or significant other. Maybe profanity was involved.

But what are you doing about it? Most people I know who complain about their jobs just keep showing up everyday, at most half-heartedly looking for a new position.

I believe part of simplifying your life is finding meaningful and fulfilling work. That doesn’t necessarily mean working at a nonprofit organization, but it does mean that when your head hits the pillow, you’re not dreading going to work the next day.

It also means that you feel good about what you do for a living because you believe you’re improving someone’s life, in no matter how small a way. That may be cleaning houses, developing apps for smart phones, paving roads, solving customer’s problems, selling a great product or saving lives.

“I hate my boss, I hate my coworkers, I hate my job.”

- JbDubs

Remember, no matter what you do to earn money, it’s not going to be fun all the time. Nothing in life is perfect. Before you start dreaming about a big change, stop and consider whether your job is really that bad, or whether you just need to focus more on the good things.

Many of us get into the habit of being negative about “going to work.” If you can’t immediately list serious concerns with your present position, try adopting a more positive attitude for a few weeks.

Each day, think about how what you do improves society as well as yourself. Most jobs provide some benefits other than financial ones. Your job might exercise your body or your brain. Maybe you often learn new skills, work on creative projects or have great co-workers. Perhaps you’re helping making the world a better place by helping endangered species or homeless families.

“Making money isn’t hard in itself….What’s hard is to earn it doing something worth devoting one’s life to.”

- Carlos Ruiz Zafón

If you’ve tried thinking more positively for awhile and still hate your job, it’s time to seriously consider a change instead of merely complaining.

Do you generally like what you do? The easiest transition for most people is to get a new job doing the same or similar work. Perhaps you need more pleasant colleagues, less travel, a shorter commute, a new challenge, part-time work, flex-time or to work from home.

Maybe you can’t stand the career you’ve chosen, or you don’t have a career and wish you did. It could be that you dream of owning your own business.

Of course, most people have a lot more concerns about how they earn a living than what they want to do, but before you can begin thinking about practicalities and working out logistics, you’ll need to think about what matters to you.

Some of you may already know you want to be an artist or a singer even though your parents talked you into becoming an accountant or a teacher. Or maybe you’re tired of waiting tables and want to become a massage therapist.

Many people who hate their jobs, though, don’t have the foggiest idea what they do want to do.

“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”

- Parker J. Palmer

If this sounds like you, take some time to think. Ask yourself:

  • What do you like about your current job? What do you hate? What are you neutral about?
  • Does your job reflect your values? If you’re not sure, take some time to think about what your values are.
  • What would your ideal job be like? Consider environment, values and people as well as the skills you’d be using and the subject matter.
  • What are you good at? Make a list and then star the things you enjoy. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have to like it

I recommend that you write or type your answers, so you can go back and review them.

You might also want to consider taking some form of the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator. There are a number of free versions online. I haven’t tried any of them, so I don’t want to recommend one, but just pop “free Myers-Briggs” into your search engine to find some options.

I do recommend the SkillScan products. I’ve only seen the hard-copy version, which it doesn’t look like individuals can buy, but I see there is an online version available here.

If, after reflection over a period of several weeks, you’re still stuck, consider visiting a career counselor. Some community colleges even make this service available for free.

“We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.”

- Vince Lombardi

Remember that what you’d like to do is a separate question than whether it’s feasible for you do to it for a living. Don’t worry about that yet.

If you really have a hard time not focusing on whether your ideas are truly possible, try making a list of several things you think you’d enjoy. That may make the exercise somewhat less anxiety-provoking and allow your attention to stay on the question of what you’d like to do.

Your Turn

Have you been unhappy in your job and made a change? Please share in the comment section below.

8 thoughts on “I Hate My Job – A Familiar Refrain?

  1. I love this post! I’ve been having conversations using these same words with my husband for years. I sent this to him so he could hear it from someone else for once. Ha! I don’t believe anyone should settle in life. Thanks for sharing!

  2. wonderful post.
    I was taking a degree that made me very unhappy and I couldn’t possibly see myself working in that field, but it was a big money field. Now I study what I have had a passion for always and life is so much better. I made the switch in 2010 and have not felt regret once.

  3. Hi Christy, My last job was the only one I hated, and I did hate it. The problem was a very poor manager. Fortunately, this happened near my planned retirement time, so I simply retired early. Now I am doing things I love – working on my Ahh The Simple Life blog with my sister Michele, re-learning the piano, volunteering with young children.

    I think your post is excellent. I’m sure it will be helpful to many people!

  4. Sometimes it can make a big difference just to find a new place to work, in the same field. I used to dread going to work, but I found a place that was MUCH more positive, and that has made all of the difference!

    Make changes career-wise is scary, but the risks are much less than the risks of spending the majority of your waking hours in a place that makes you unhappy.

I'd love for you to share your ideas and experiences.