According to the Conference Board research group, in an article published by the AP, only 45% of Americans like their job, down from 49% in 2008, and 61% in 1987 (when the survey was first conducted). The other 55%? Unhappy.
‘Hate’ might be a strong word, but you get the point: Americans no likey their jobs. Reasons cited in the survey for contributing to unhappiness included:
- Only 43% of workers feel that they have job security.
- The average employee contribution for single-coverage medical care benefits rose from $48 a month to $76 a month between 1999 and 2006.
- Only 51% find their jobs interesting (down from 70% in 1987). Wait, weren’t we supposed to be transitioning to the ‘creative’ economy?
- Our commutes are longer.
- We like our co-workers less.
- And we like our bosses less.
The survey didn’t look into how overworked we are and how that has eroded our work/life balance, but I have a sneaking suspicion that is a major component as well.
Some of these things we can control. Others we cannot (barring taking a new job). Having been there myself, I’ve found that the best way to deal with it is to take a rational approach to help regroup, restore clarity, and give you some much needed perspective. I’ll show you how.
5 Steps to Take when you Absolutely Hate your Job
Step 1: Be Honest with Yourself. Why Do you Hate your Job?
Before you get in to a deep analysis, you first need to ask yourself, “why do I hate my job?”, “is this job for me?”, or even “is this career for me?”. And this is something you probably should not make a snap judgment on. Not liking your job could be due to a number of factors, and before you get up and quit, you need to find out why you really don’t like it. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- “Do I not like this particular job, this particular employer, or this particular career?” (this is an important distinction to make)
- “Am I under-challenged?”
- “Am I under-paid?”
- “Do I fit in to the culture?”
- “Am I ultimately on the path to self-employment?”
Step 2: Will Solving the Reasons for your Unhappiness Make you Happier?
If the answer to this question is yes and you think that solving the problems will result in more job satisfaction, move on to the next step and try to address them head on. If the answer is no, or that you’ll only moderately be less miserable, then maybe you are in the wrong job.
Step 3: Separate the things you can Control and the things you Cannot
This may be the most important step. Creating a list of things you can control keeps this exercise solutions-focused. It gives you hope and something to constructively work on. Make a list and spend some time contemplating how you can address each problem. Then address them. Have a winner’s mentality. You might just find that you were unhappy because you hadn’t addressed the problems in the first place.
Step 4: Do you Need an Attitude Adjustment?
If you have an honest list of problems that are out of your control that are leading to a lot of job dissatisfaction, are these things truly worthy of the power to make you miserable, or is an attitude adjustment necessary? A very smart philosopher once said “life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it”. Is your cynicism getting the best of you and are the things leading to you being miserable really worth it? Maybe it’s just time to get over something and move on.
Whether your attitude is the problem or not, the next (and final) step should help add perspective and tell you what to do next.
Step 5: Look Around and Complete the ‘Grass is Greener Exercise’
When I have felt like I’ve been stuck in a rut at my job, the best thing I’ve done for myself is to look for other jobs and network. When you find that you have other options it does two important things:
- takes the weight off your shoulders.
- let’s you make honest comparisons.
As for the former, job dissatisfaction can result when you think that you are backed into a corner and have absolutely no other options. When you realize that is not true, it takes so much weight off of your current situation. Suddenly, you might feel free to take more risks at work, enjoy the people around you more, and try to make the best of the time you have left there.
For the latter, you now know that you have options and you can explore them. This is what I like to call the ‘Grass is Greener Exercise’. Finding other jobs allows you to create a list of pros and cons and compare them to your existing job and ultimately answer the following questions to determine if indeed the grass is really greener.
- how does ‘real wage‘ aka ‘total compensation’ compare between jobs?
- would a new job require me to move? Can I afford the cost of living increase?
- have I learned 95% of what I can in my job? Would I learn more if I moved in to this other job?
- is the prospective job more in line with what I want my career to be?
- would I fit in to the culture better?
Answering these questions will give you the knowledge you need to determine whether or not it is time to move on. If you decide not to, odds are that you will have a new-found appreciation for your existing job. Either way, you will likely be happier as a result.
That said, don’t quit your job just because you don’t like it, when you don’t have a better solution lined up. That could result in you being in a worse-off situation.
Hating your Job Discussion:
- Do you currently ‘hate’ your job? What have you done or will you do to address it?
- Why do you hate your job?
- What has helped you the most when you’ve been stuck in a rut at your job?