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Naomi Rothwell-Boyd, May 11 2022

10 Useful Things To Do When You Hate Your Job

Help! I hate my job! What do I do now?

Most people hate their jobs. In fact, according to a study done by Gallup in 2017, only 33% of people are engaged in their work. That means that the other 67% of people are either actively disengaged (they hate their job and are disruptive) or they are simply not engaged (they don't care).

This is a huge problem, because when you hate your job, it impacts every area of your life. You don't get enough sleep, you're stressed out all the time, and you start to resent everyone around you. Your immediate family and friends get the brunt of your bad moods and it creates a slow but perpetual downward cycle. A change in career is often a good idea in order to avoid this cycle, as long as you go about it the right way.

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So what can you do about it?

Well here are ten things you should do when you hate your job:

1) Re-evaluate your relationship with your employer
2) Stop yourself from rebounding
3) Create space between you the elements affecting you most
4) Define what better looks like
5) Prioritise your needs based on your situation
6) List down all your possible options
7) Define your appetite for stepping stones
8) Set deadlines for some easy actions
9) Test the waters in the job market
10) Ask for help from key people

What order should I try?

Ideally you should take these actions in the chronological order I've provided here.

The big one to note is that "test the waters in the job market" is number 9, not the first thing you should do. If you hate your job then you should not just dive head first into job listings. That would be like going to the supermarket when you're hungry - you will always get something in the spur of the moment rather than making an intelligent choice. You need to plan out your career change.

Instead you need to be more deliberate with your actions. So let's explore each step in detail.

1) Re-evaluate your relationship with your employer

Many people feel they owe their employer their loyalty. But the truth is, your employer does not care about you. They care about making money and they will do whatever it takes to make sure the company makes money.

Your relationship with your employer should be one of mutual respect. If you feel like your employer is taking advantage of you, then it's time to have a conversation. If they're not willing to listen, then it might be time to move on.

When considering your relationship, I am referring to the company you work for as a whole, not your manager or your colleagues. Many people feel they owe loyalty to their manager (assuming they've been a good one) or to their colleagues who they don't want to let down.

This is admirable and I'm not saying you should abandon your relationships altogether. But what I am saying is that you need to put yourself first. At the end of the day, if the company is taking advantage of you or not valuing your contributions, then it's time to move on.

Remember, a good relationship is built on trust and mutual respect - if that's not present, then it might be time to look for something else.

Consider this - if (god forbid) you were to die today, then your employer would take steps to replace your job role within a month or two, but your family and friends would miss you forever.

While it's always good to maintain positive respectful relationships with co-workers, you don't owe the company anything. If you're holding yourself back out of misplaced loyalty then it's time to put it to bed.

2) Stop yourself from rebounding

Now that you've accepted you need to focus on yourself and your own career, that doesn't mean you need to make any rash decisions.

When people get out of a bad relationship, they often make the mistake of jumping into another one without taking the time to heal first. This is called "rebounding" and it's something you need to avoid at all costs.

The same thing applies when you hate your job - you might be tempted to leave without having a plan or without having another job lined up.

This is a recipe for disaster and it will only leave you feeling worse off than before. You need to take the time to heal and focus on what you want before making any decisions.

Rushing into things will only lead to more pain and regret, so take your time and be patient.

Parting ways with a job you hate is never easy, but it's important to remember that you're not alone. Millions of people around the world feel the same way you do and many of them have taken the brave step of making a change.

3) Create space between you the elements affecting you most

With these first two steps, you've worked through a mature mental process to prepare yourself to make a change without over reacting.

As part of this process you may acknowledge that you're not yet in the position to leave, and therefore you need to find temporary coping strategies.

You therefore need to identify the most draining, toxic or irritating elements of your day to day work and then create space between you and them in order to cope.

This could be anything from venting to a friend or family member outside of work about your struggles. Or taking a longer lunch break to read or relax away from the office. Or using your commute to and from work as time for yourself instead of working through more hours. Or even trying to change teams or roles to get away from a toxic co-worker.

It's important that you find something that works for you and that you make time for it every day, even if it's just a few minutes.

It might not seem like much, but making this space will help to ease the tension you're feeling and give you some much-needed perspective.

4) Define what better looks like

Once you have more space and time to think, you need to start getting clear on what better looks like for you.

Remember, this is your life and you need to be happy with it. So take the time to really think about what would make you happier in a job.

Do you want more responsibility? More creative freedom? To work with a better team? To have a shorter commute? To be paid more?

There's no wrong answer here, but it's important that you take the time to figure out what you really want. Otherwise, you'll just end up in another job that you hate.

Think about the kind of work that would make you excited to get out of bed in the morning and make a list of all the things that are important to you.

This list will be your guiding light when you start looking for a new job.

Keep in mind that finding a job is a process, and it might take some time to find the perfect role. But if you keep these steps in mind, you'll eventually find yourself in a much better place.

5) Prioritise your needs based on your situation

Painting a picture, or more specifically, writing a list of what better looks like should hint at a few key needs you feel you require in your work setup.

You need to take a long look at which needs are most important to your overall well being and which are just nice to have. You need to get clear on your non negotiables.

For example, if you have a young family at home, you might need more flexible working hours to be able to pick them up from school or childcare.

Or if you're struggling with your mental health, you might need a reduction in your workload or more support from your team.

It's important to be honest with yourself about what you need and to be prepared to negotiate for it.

Don't be afraid to ask for what you want, because chances are, if you don't ask, you won't get it.

Keep in mind that finding a job is a process, and it might take some time to find the next better role. So if you keep these priorities in mind, you'll be able to identify a good opportunity faster.

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6) List down all your possible options

Now that you have your priorities straight and you're better informed, it's time to do some serious brainstorming.

Start by taking a look at your list of what better looks like and start thinking about all the possible ways you could make that happen.

For example, if you want more responsibility, you could look for a promotion within your current company. Or you could apply for jobs that are one step up from your current role.

If you want more creative freedom, you could look for roles that allow you to be more autonomous or that give you the opportunity to work on more interesting projects.

If you want to work with a better team, you could look for roles that are on a different team within your company or apply for jobs at other companies.

The point is, there are always options available to you, you just have to be willing to look for them.

Don't limit yourself by thinking that you need to make a complete career change or that you're stuck in your current situation.

Thinking of all the possibilities should be an extreme and limitless exercise. You should write down crazy and outlandish ideas as well as even the smallest ideas.

You never know what might be the right fit for you, so it's important to explore all your options no matter how different they appear.

7) Define your appetite for stepping stones

When considering all your options, you likely would write down some options that seem more sensible, smaller and doable. Often these look more like sideways moves that simply act as a way for you to get out of your rut and into a different path.

These are called stepping stones and can be a great way to get your foot in the door somewhere new or simply try something different without too much risk.

In some cases, people use stepping stones as a way to buy themselves some time while they figure out their next big career move.

The key is to make sure that your stepping stone is actually taking you closer to where you want to be.

Don't forget, a stepping stone doesn't have to be a forever move, it could simply be somewhere you stay for a year or two while you gain the skills and experience you need before moving on to something else.

It's important to have an idea of what your appetite is for taking risks and making big changes. Only you can decide if a stepping stone is the right move for you.

There's no shame in taking a smaller risk if that's what you're comfortable with. The important thing is that you're moving forward and exploring your options.

8) Set deadlines for some easy actions

Now by this point you've mostly been doing thinking work, exploring your priorities and writing down potential options.

Now is the time to get stuck into your better informed job search. But one last task remains - you need to set yourself some deadlines.

This is important because it will help to keep you accountable and motivated throughout your job search.

Set yourself a deadline for when you want to have applied for X number of jobs. Set a deadline for when you want to reach out to Y number of people in your network.

And set a deadline for when you want to have made a final decision about your next career move.

Making these deadlines realistic is key. If you set yourself impossible deadlines then you're setting yourself up to fail.

But if you set yourself some easy, achievable deadlines then you're much more likely to stick to them and actually make some progress.

And that's what we're aiming for here - to make some progress and move closer to a career that you're excited about.

9) Test the waters in the job market

Now we can really start the job hunt! This is when you take everything you've analysed and figured out and apply it to a targeted series of tests.

The first test is to see what kind of response you get when you start applying for jobs.

Do you have the relevant skills and experience? Are you being invited to interview? If not, what can you do to improve your applications?

This is also a good time to start testing out your network. See if anyone is willing to meet up with you for coffee or a chat on the phone.

See if anyone is willing to introduce you to someone else in their network. These tests will give you a good idea of how marketable you are and what your options might be.

Remember, at this stage we're just testing the waters. We're not making any final decisions or commitments.

This is simply a way of getting some feedback and information so that we can make more informed decisions later on.

And finally, this is also a good time to start testing your own limits and comfort levels. If you're considering making a big career change then this is the time to start dipping your toe in the water.

Look for part-time or freelance work in the industry you're interested in. Or look for volunteering opportunities.

This is a great way to get some experience and start building up your skills without having to make a huge commitment right away.

10) Ask for help from key people

As you start applying to potential jobs and talking to people, you should identify a few mentors.

These are people who have the experience and knowledge that you lack. They can help to give you guidance and advice as you navigate your job search.

Your mentors might be friends, family members, teachers, or anyone else who you trust and feel comfortable talking to about your career.

If you don't have any mentors yet then now is the time to start looking for them.

Reach out to people who you admire and respect. Ask them if they're willing to have a chat with you about your career plans.

Most people will be happy to help if they can, so don't be afraid to ask.

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Hating your job can be a tough and frustrating experience. But it doesn't have to be a permanent one.

There are things you can do to explore your options and find a career that you're excited about.

So if you're feeling stuck in a job that you hate, use this as motivation to take some action and make a change.

You deserve to love your job, and with a little bit of effort you can make it happen.

I hope this article has helped to give you some ideas about what you can do if you hate your job. If you have any questions or comments then please leave them below. And if you know someone who is struggling in their current role then please share this article with them! Thank-you for reading! :)

Written by

Naomi Rothwell-Boyd

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