We enter the workforce with the idea of having a job that is truly satisfying – the kind of job that doesn’t feel like work at all. (That’s the dream, right?)
If you’ve found that job or dream career, run with it, enjoy it and savour it. I know from personal experience that it is truly possible to get job satisfaction from a practical career choice.
Yet for many, it’s just pure fantasy, because the cold hard facts are that their current job brings little meaning and fulfillment. In fact, their attempts to reach their career goals or dream career have brought nothing but stress, worry, and disappointment. Being stuck in a job that to put it frankly “sucks” is no fun, and for whatever reason you’ve made up in your mind you can’t or won’t leave, you feel despondent and destined to stay frustrated, embarrassed, unhappy. You’re convinced you will lose your mind.
What can you do if you don’t love your job? There are ways to make the best of a less than ideal situation. What you can do about it is to figure out first what you don’t like about your job and if there is anything you can do to fix it.
To make it easy for you, I’ve listed the top 6 reasons we can hate our jobs and how to make a bad job better.
Problem: ‘I’m not being paid enough.’
Reason: Every time you look at your bank balance you grumble. Job dissatisfaction can come from our perception of pay inequality and not the actual amount. Workers can feel that their pay does not reflect their level of skill, training, effort or dedication to their job.
Solution: Look to how you can be promoted to a higher paying job in the organisation. In order to do that, you need to spend less time focused on your paycheck and more time looking for ways to increase your performance and find satisfaction beyond remuneration. Some examples that can help you stand out in your current role are:
- Get an early win by identifying immediate contributions you could make to the team
- Implement something new that would increase efficiency
- Bring one big idea to the table
- Express curiosity by asking questions and being open and thoughtful
- Understand your company’s vision and ask questions about strategy and key performance
- Exhibit good time management skills and prioritise your work
Problem: ‘My boss drives me crazy.’
Reason: Your boss is incompetent or doesn’t recognise your efforts leaving you feeling resentful.
Solution: We’ve all complained about our boss from time to time. Good leadership challenges us, and we feel recognised for the good work we’ve done, but dealing with a truly incompetent boss is exhausting and frustrating. Some strategies for handing the situation are to create a personal boundary and know your psychological limits, so you don’t let the circumstances get you down.
The conflict between an incompetent boss and employer can be daunting so to handle these situations well; I’d suggest you never react to verbal abuse or harsh criticism with emotion. If your boss likes to intimidate or is a control freak, then the best way to deal with their behaviour is to remain calm and acknowledge their position. The key is to discuss rather than confront. Keep it professional and remember you don’t have to like your boss. Lastly, having empathy resists the temptation to demonise your boss and to be open to their perspective.
Problem: ‘My job is so boring.’
Reason: You lack motivation or feel underutilized in your current role seeking solace in surfing online shopping sites and updating your social media profiles.
Solution: Often, if you are bored at work it’s because you’ve been doing the same thing for too long, and you are not challenging yourself. Another reason is that your boss isn’t aware that you want to move up the ladder and happy to keep you in your job, so he’s not challenging you. Don’t just sit rotting away at your desk. You have to take initiative and let your boss know that you want to more opportunities to learn and demonstrate your skills.
Problem: ‘I hate my team.’
Reason: It could be that you are not a perfect fit for your organisation’s work culture and feel left out or scapegoated. Some people see the work as a competitive environment and it you’re not competitive, you are going to resent the person next to you who’s always trying to one up you to impress the boss.
Solution: Bullying and misbehaviour make it complex, but I’d suggest focusing on what ways you can make the environment less stressful such as requesting a desk change, take your lunch hour earlier, or as a last resort giving yourself a time limit that if you don’t get promoted, or your work environment gets better, you’ll look for a new job.
Problem: ‘The job has long hours.’
Reason: You could have poor time management skills or have difficulty saying no.
Solution: Talk to your superiors about ways you can be helped to prioritise better and organise your workload. What time management can you do to become more efficient, organised and productive e.g. prioritising getting those important tasks done so you have more family time, and leave the office at a reasonable hour. So if you want to be good at time management, love the to-do list, and there are many great smart phone apps like Wunderlist, Google Keep, Any.do or Todoist that can sync with your computer and other apps.
We can sometimes find ourselves dealing with unreasonable work requests i.e. short time frames, or requests outside our responsibilities or talents. Having good time management skills sometimes means saying no to work colleagues or the boss. We fear saying no because we don’t want to disappoint, displease or lose our job. However when you say something like, ‘I’m away from my desk right now, when I have my diary in front of me, can I let you know?’ can help bide some time. You could request priority from your boss by asking, ‘Which one do you think I need to focus on first?’ Or ‘If I do this, what would you like me to stop working on?’ All of the above can help you to reclaim your energy, confidence, and control over your day.
Problem: ‘This career is not for me.’
Reason: Monday morning swings around. You know you should feel excited to get to work and face the challenges ahead, but you don’t. You feel bored, unfulfilled and simply fed up.
Solution: Find fulfilment outside of the 9-5. Maybe you fell into your job from high school or picked jobs because of the prestige, ease or money. Maybe you wanted to please the family or were influenced by your peers. In my coaching session it’s not uncommon for me to hear clients say, ‘After all the training and degrees, I hate the work that I do’. What’s missing is that they haven’t connected with their true authentic self. It’s through a process of self-discovery where you meet your own expectations and not society or family. So to rediscover your passion again it consists of sequentially answering these three questions:
Who am I?
What is it I want to do?
How do I get that job?
Ask yourself honestly, what is the truth behind your dream today and how can you reconnect and incorporate that dream into your life? If you wanted to be an actor but your parents pushed you into marketing then join a local theatre group. If you wanted to work in social work but the pay convinced you to become a psychologist then volunteer as a crisis counsellor in a low-income neighbourhood. You can still focus on your dream.
When you are dissatisfied with your current job, this tends to play a major influence on your overall outlook on life. I hope these tips can help you make a bad job better and feel less dissatisfied about the situation you are in.
Fiona Craig is a life balance coach, psychotherapist and published author of Stuck in a Rut – How to rescue yourself & live your truth helping men and women get unstuck from their job rut and onto finding their dream career.