You wake up Sunday… and Monday is on your mind. You feel sick. Your job is causing anxiety and there's no way out. Sound familiar?
Half your weekend ruined because all you can think about is Monday morning, and the week ahead.
I hate my job. You're not the first person to think it… but that doesn't change the fact you hate your job. And it doesn't make it any less painful.
What can you do? If you can't afford to quit, and there's nowhere else to turn, what do you do? Finding a new job is easier said than done.
According to a 2015 article in the Telegraph, 47% of all workers in the UK want to change their jobs…
You are definitely not alone. You could almost call it an epidemic.
I get it.
In the early 2000's I endured a string of 3 consecutive jobs I hated.
I know what you're thinking…
“Three jobs? Was it really the job? Or was it you?” And you'd be right… it was mostly me.
They were jobs I wasn't suited to, and as a result, I was miserable.
Do You Hate Your Job… or is it just The Wrong Job?
The first question… Is your job worth saving?
Maybe you enjoy the work, but not the people, or the lack of upward mobility, or the commute.
Under those circumstances, it might be worth finding a solution.
However, if you're just not suited to the type of work you're doing, a change may be necessary.
If your job is talking to people all day… but you don't like talking to people, it's going to be a miserable 8 (10, or 12) hours.
You might be an office person stuck working outdoors. Or vice-versa.
It's NOT bad to go beyond your comfort zone, to learn and grow. But, subjecting yourself to misery isn't growing. If the job is not suited to your personality, your strengths, your interests… it's not likely to get better.
It's Okay To NOT Like What You Do
“I felt like something was wrong with me and I'm destined to be unhappy”
…said Jenny Blake, author of the book PIVOT, The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One.
On a recent podcast, she discussed her role as co-founder of Google's career development and mentorship program.
“I wasn’t happy at Google. What’s wrong with me? This is a dream company. Two years into my own business, I’m hitting this wall again. What’s my problem?”
“Am I so entitled or spoiled that I can only work on things I want to work on? What’s wrong with me? Buck up.” You know? “How many people are at jobs they don’t like? Why am I resisting this?” I just had to realize it was because it’s not my strength.”
Whatever your job is, you're not obligated to be happy. Everyday people quit their jobs (some high paying dream jobs) to pursue something different, or more meaningful.
There's nothing wrong if you don't like what you're doing.
We hear this, especially from previous generations when things were more difficult. Now… I'm 43, so some may consider me to be from a previous generation. 😀
But the point is, they had challenges unique to their time. We have challenges unique to our time. One is not more important than the other. The world has changed and there is nothing wrong with wanting more from life.
Happy THANKFUL You Have a Job.
Seriously! How many times have you heard that? “Just be happy you have a job.”
You probably even say it yourself.
It's true, in most cases… having a job (or a business, or a career) is better than not having one. But let's be real. You're under no obligation to anyone (not even yourself) to be happy about it.
You can be THANKFUL you have a job… but you don't have to be HAPPY about it. Those are two very different things.
Why should you be happy to have a job you HATE? That makes no sense at all. That does not mean you can't be happy about other things in your life… but happy about a job you despise? Nope!
The main reason for your job is money, correct?
So, what people really mean when they say, “Just be happy you have a job” is, “just be happy you have money“.
Did I miss something? When did money become happiness?
I can think of a dozen celebrities that are no longer with us… who were obviously unhappy despite having a s###load of money. Even I know what it's like to be unhappy with money (better to have than not have… but it doesn't equal happy).
Happy to have a job, really means to be THANKFUL you have a job. And, there's an important lesson here.
No one is the judge of your happiness (or unhappiness).
But people do it all of the time, don't they?
THAT person should be THIS way, and THIS person should be THAT way…
If I had the things THEY had…
But the truth is, we have no idea what others are going through… what experiences they've had, or what they're thinking.
When my daughter is down about something, I always tell her “It's okay to be NOT okay”.
I could say, “be happy you have a roof over your head, you have food to eat, and you're still young with so many years ahead of you.”
I can think of a hundred reasons she should be happy. But it only takes one to bring her down. And, it probably only takes one to bring you down too.
Only YOU can judge how you feel, and why you feel the way you do.
Maybe you know the reason, maybe you don't… but the reason is your's and no one else's.
Obviously, there comes a point when unhappiness requires professional attention, and (disclaimer here) that's well beyond the scope of this article and I'm not a professional.
The message here is simple; if you're unhappy and hate your job, those feelings belong to you.
Is It The Job You Hate, Or Your Lack of Options?
Maybe the job isn't that bad. Maybe the job isn't the problem… I mean, there's probably no one holding a gun to your head and telling you that you must go to work. In theory… (and in reality if you ignore the consequences) you can simply NOT go.
But then what?
You have financial responsibilities. People are counting on you. And if you quit, what are you going to do?
The problem is you either have no options, or the options you have are no better.
You're caught between a rock and hard place. There's no reason to sugar coat it. You only have a few choices.
And that's also the good news. With only a few choices, it's not that complicated.
You can quit. You can stay (and be miserable). You can make changes that make the job better, or…
… you can sit down, decide what you want your life to look like and come up with a plan to get it.
Not overnight, but small incremental changes in a purposeful direction lead to massive changes down the road. Those little changes can literally be the difference between a life you absolutely love in 5 years or one you hate.
What those small changes are depends on what you want your life to look like, but small changes to overcome your current predicament at work can be life changing too.
They can be external changes; Confronting a co-worker for example. Or telling the boss you're not getting the training or support you need.
Changes can also be internal. Being thankful… making a list of things you like about the job. Maybe the hours are good. Maybe the job gives you some freedom, or more time with family than you'd have otherwise.
Each morning, go over your list and be thankful. You might be surprised how much this changes your perspective.
And then… start building options. Don't let yourself fall into that situation again, with nowhere to go and nothing else to do.
“Wealth is not about having a lot of money; it's about having a lot of options.”
― Chris Rock
I'll come back to the topic of options in a moment.
Let's Begin by Gaining Perspective
The road ahead is one thing, but you still need to deal with the present situation.
No one wants to be unhappy. It's even more difficult when it's your job which consumes so much of your life.
And, despite hating it, you have to do your job reasonably well… or you may not have it at all.
But this is your situation today… so let's look at it objectively. I know, it's not easy.
I'm going to make a few presumptions and you may disagree (I certainly don't know your specific situation), but I'll explain each in further detail.
- It's not as bad as you think.
- The only thing you should really worry about is NOW.
- Your life is about more than money.
It's Not as Bad as You Think
When faced with a bad situation, it's normal to think of worst case scenarios.
It's referred to as Catastrophic Thinking.
Beckinstitute.org explains that this type of thinking “magnifies both the immediate and eventual consequences of any perceived threat.”
Catastrophic thinking is believed to be a mechanism that allowed early humans to survive. When our ancestors were faced with uncertainty, the ones who could imagine potential dangers lived.
Take a dark cave for example. Those that could look inside and imagine a waiting bear, didn't go in. The ones without that ability went in and were eaten. Survival of the smartest.
Over many generations, the ones who understood risk survived, and the ones who did not… well, if they didn't fall off a cliff or drown, they were probably eaten.
As a result, we humans have evolved into a paranoid species, anxious and worried, always thinking the worst is going to happen.
But it rarely does? In fact… for most people (again I don't know your specific situation) if you think about it, if you lost your job today, you'd still be safe. Maybe it would be inconvenient, frustrating even… but fatal-danger is probably unlikely.
How often do the things you fear play out exactly as imagined?
So you're stuck in this job you hate and you're imagining all the things that might happen if you quit, right?
The bills that won't get paid for example…
That may be true, but not necessarily. Even if it did, would it be the absolute end of the world? Is subjecting yourself to misery a better option?
But one thought leads to another…
If THIS happens, then THAT will happen. And then if THAT happens, THIS will happen and so on…
You'll lose your car, maybe ruin your credit rating… Okay, these are all possibilities.
But I can promise you there will be more cars, credit ratings improve (banks want to lend you money).
But the truth is, we have no idea what will happen. That doesn't mean we shouldn't worry and not plan for the worst.
What it does mean, however, is that the anxiety and fear of what might happen is unknown. And, the worst is probably not as bad as your mind is likely building it up to be.
I didn't say it would be great. Whether you hate your job and stay, or hate your job and quit… it's not the best situation you can be in. But, it's probably not the worst either.
The Only Thing That Exists Is ‘NOW'
The past doesn't exist. The future doesn't exist.
They are both just thoughts in our heads.
What? I thought this was a post about hating your job? It absolutely is a post about hating your job… and those two sentences above for some will be the most important sentences of this entire post.
But, although they apply to all of us… it's a profound perspective that not everyone will understand. For those that do, however, it may change your life. It changed mine which I'll explain in a moment.
Eckhart Tolle, author of the books The Power of Now, and A New Earth talks about the NOW,
“You have never been in the NOT NOW, and you will never be in the NOT NOW”
… meaning, it's always NOW. We can only exist in the NOW. Even if you could somehow jump in a time machine and go back a few hundred years… you would still be living that experience in your now.
We can't exist at a time or in a moment that is NOT NOW. You have always lived in the NOW.
When I was a kid, my Mom used to say,
“Wherever you go… there you are.”
I didn't pay much attention to it at the time, but I see the wisdom in it now. Another one you've probably heard is,
“Tomorrow never comes”.
During one of Eckhart's seminars (I have many hours on Audible, and apologize I can't remember which one) he talks about an old pub that had a sign on the wall that read,
“Free Beer Tomorrow”
When people would come in the next day, they'd ask the bartender for free beer. He'd point at the sign,
“It says tomorrow”
Our brains don't differentiate well between the present moment, the past and the future. In fact, our thoughts are almost always about our past and our future… rarely are they about the present.
And when I say the present… I mean now. Not five minutes from now… not even 5 seconds from now.
And here's the thing…
The only thing that is actually real… is the present. NOW.
5 minutes ago is gone and there is nothing you can do about it. It no longer exists except as a thought in your head.
5 minutes from now also doesn't exist. It's just a thought.
You only have power in the present moment, and things can only happen to you in the present moment.
If you're sitting comfortably at home right now, in your car or on a bus… and the job you must wake up for tomorrow is hurting you right now… it's only the “thought” of the job that hurting you. Not the job itself.
And your thoughts don't have absolute power of you. Don't fight them (that never works) but don't become them either. You can observe your thoughts as just thoughts, and if there's one you don't like, recognize it for what it is and just let it go.
You are not your thoughts. You are the observer of your thoughts.
And the past and future only exist in your thoughts. They have either happened or they haven't happened yet… but they are NOT happening right now.
Why does all of this new age zen master mumbo jumbo matter? I'll explain…
The Question That May Have Saved My Life
I first listened to Eckhart Tolle during an extremely difficult time in my life. I was dealing with a life-changing tragedy, and it occupied my every thought for weeks. I didn't sleep. I didn't eat. I was sick about it 24/7…
Ironically, I also hated my job during that time. And… there's nothing like a serious life-altering event to put the problem of hating your job into perspective.
One day, I had to travel for work. On the drive I was listening to The Power Of Now audiobook, thinking it would be good background noise. I don't know why I had it on my phone, or even when I downloaded it… but I needed something.
An hour or two into the drive (and the audiobook), Eckhart Tolle asked a question.
He said (or at least I heard), “What problems do you have right now?”
“Wow!” I thought, “Where do I even start?”
My entire life was a mess at the time. This tragedy was causing me to unravel, and I had so many problems that my problems had problems.
But then he then said something which was so profound that it's changed the entire way I now look at life.
“What problems do you have NOW?” he said, emphasizing the word now,
“Not problems that you had 5 minutes ago, and NOT problems that you're going to have 5 minutes from now. What problems do you have NOW?”
You mean right now? This very moment, NOW?
I could not come up with a problem now.
What could be so bad? I was comfortable in my car, I was driving (one of my favorite things to do), the sun was shining. I wasn’t hungry. I wasn't too hot or too cold. At that very moment, I had no problems.
It was then that I realized most problems are smaller than we think.
It's the present moment that's HUGE. Everything that exists and everything we are is in the present moment. Our problems, as big as they may seem are small in comparison.
I don't say that to minimize your problems. Some problems are exceptionally serious. Maybe even terminal. And pain is real without a doubt.
But it's the thinking and obsessing about those problems that take you out of the present… which is the only place you can live. The only place you can find peace and happiness.
You can't find those things anywhere else except in the present moment.
As I was driving I realized that nothing in my physical world had changed. Nothing about my situation had changed. But my perception of my situation had been causing me to suffer even when I wasn't suffering.
Even during the times I was comfortable driving, or with a friend, or lying safely in a warm bed… I was suffering.
I had turned my situation into a Massive Monster of suffering that engulfed all of me, but it really only existed in my head. I was thinking of everything that led to up to those problems… everyone involved, how the years ahead were going to play out. The dominos that would fall.
I was imagining (even experiencing) apocalyptic chain of events that might occur.
All in my head.
Even if the worst turned out to be real, there was nothing I could do while I was driving.
At that very moment… I realized that I had no problems. So I gave myself permission to feel comfortable. To feel safe. To let 5 minutes (or 5 years) from NOW, worry about itself.
“Remember then: there is only one time that is important– Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.”
Your Life is More Than Money
Money is important. Having a job is important.
Hating your job, going into debt, wrecking your credit, putting financial pressure and stress on the people you love, who may even depend on you, is not good. I get it.
I'm in no way saying it's ideal… but money is not the not the only thing. Life is made up of countless layers. Money is only one.
Our friends and families make up many layers. Time to appreciate a breeze on your skin, a breath of air as it fills your lungs. Music, taste, embrace… life is made up of all of these things. Don't give money (and stuff) more importance than it deserves.
But… as I said above. I do get it.
I worked in construction for many years, which keeps you jumping from project to project.
The problem is, not all projects begin and end at the same time. And, between projects, there are gaps. Some longer than others, but often enough to make you worry.
When times are tough, it can be a game of musical chairs. More people than jobs.
Of course, we do what we can to prepare for lean times, but it's normal to consider worst case scenarios.
Years ago my wife and I were having this conversation. What if we ran out of money?
She was worried so I asked her,
“What's the worst case scenario?”
“Well,” she said. “We could get behind on the bills. We could lose our cars, the house, go hungry…”
“Sure,” I responded. “It's possible. Not likely… but possible. But let's say we get behind on the bills, maybe even lose one of the cars.”
“Our credit will be ruined”, she said.
“Probably. But so what.” I said
She looked at me. It was obvious she thought I was crazy.
Okay… it's not ideal. In fact, it's a pretty big problem… a serious setback. But it's not life or death.
I remember saying at the time, if we ran out of money today (I was between projects at the time)… I'd wake up tomorrow, drive the kids to school, stop for a coffee on the way home (I'm sure I could round up some change), relax and start working on a plan.
The bank wasn't going to knock on my door that day.
And, this isn't hypothetical. I actually did put a plan into action… to reduce the amount of money I needed in the first place.
I traded my two vehicles for cheaper ones. It wasn't easy, but it's just stuff. It's all replaceable… and irrelevant. I do miss my Mustang though 🙁
I still had (and have) my family. Our health. I was still breathing. And I still had opportunities ahead of me.
So… I'll say it again… life is made of many layers, and money is just one. It's not everything. It's not even the most important.
And you never know… maybe taking a step back is the opportunity you need to rebuild stronger, better and happier.
Those were my thoughts, and I understand your situation may be drastically different. I'm NOT saying to quit your job, and that money doesn't matter.
What I'm saying is, there are far worse things that can happen.
“Rule number one is, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it’s all small stuff.”
– Robert Eliot
There's a reason I wasn't really worried. As I mentioned earlier, I had been down this road before.
Years ago after struggling with a string of bad jobs, I found it difficult to find work.
I was clinging to all the stuff I had. The thought of losing it caused me anxiety, worry, depression. But eventually, I did lose all of it… including my good credit rating.
When I finally did find work, my starting pay was about one-third of what I was previously making.
But here's the thing…
I liked that job. Looking back, it's the job I enjoyed most. Within a few years, I had climbed the ladder so to speak and was managing several branches for that company.
I got back everything I had lost, restored my credit rating and even started saving.
During the time I was struggling (about 15 years ago now), everything seemed so big and important. But from a distance (years later), it's actually quite small.
I was reminded of this recently when I heard Robert Cialdini on the James Altucher Show. He quoted a Chinese proverb,
“The years say what the days can't tell”
I don't want to bore you further with my story. I'd just like to say say quickly, what I failed to do during that rebuilding phase of my life, was create options. I should have learned, but I didn't.
I made the same mistake years later and found myself in a job I wasn't suited to. Again, I was unhappy and I felt trapped. It was more serious this time since I had a 3-year-old and a newborn at home.
That's when it occurred to me. It wasn't the job I hated. I mean… I didn't like it. But what I hated more, was not having anywhere else to go.
Having options became a necessity, and this may be where you find yourself now.
There are dozens of directions you can go.
In my case, I changed my entire career. From the comfort of an office chair and company car, to hauling around a bag of tools as an electrician.
I promised myself I'd never be stuck without options again…
Nothing is certain, but don't get yourself backed into a corner. With options, you can live to fight another day.
What Are Some Options?
You hate your job, that much is clear. But do you have any ideas about what you'd like to do? Or maybe that's the problem… you have too many ideas.
David Allen once said, “You can do anything, but not everything.”
So, while the list of things you'd like to do may be long, you must prioritize.
Maybe starting a small business as simple as buying & selling, or if you've got a specific skill (playing guitar for example), you can teach others.
If you could earn just a small supplement income, could you afford a less stressful job?
It's a unique era we live in, with seemingly countless opportunities to earn money from the comfort of your home… and more importantly, on your own terms. Contract and freelance work is becoming the new norm… and it may be an ideal path for you to transition out of job you hate, to one you love.
To get the ball rolling, here are a few ideas.
- Become a freelancer.
- For something relatively simple, you might consider a data entry job from home.
- Work from home as a virtual assistant, “The Bootstrap VA: The Go-Getter's Guide to Becoming a Virtual Assistant, Getting and Keeping Clients, and More!”
As I mentioned a moment ago, I started an online business.
Then there are more traditional paths. If it's possible, returning to school might be an option. Or starting a trade.
I have a friend who built a successful and profitable family photography business. That's her full-time business now.
Another who took bookkeeping courses runs her own business and has several clients that keep her busy.
It just takes a little creativity, searching and asking.
There's no magic bullet. I wish there were. There's a lot of shitty situations in life and waking up every morning saying to yourself, “I hate my job” is one of them.
Whether you stay at your current job or leave… your key to a better future is to create options for yourself.
We can't control our circumstances, but we can do our best so they don't control us.
Another reason you should begin creating options is because our economy is facing challenges we haven't seen before. You may like your next job, but that doesn’t mean it'll be 100% secure.
In future articles, I will be exploring more ways to generate a second income, as well as ways to make money online. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found this article helpful.
Please leave a comment, I'd love to hear your thoughts. And if you found this article useful, or think it might be helpful for others… Please share.