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I Hate My Job. What Should I Do?

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Updated October 26, 2012

I Hate My Job. What Should I Do?
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Question: I Hate My Job. What Should I Do?
"I hate my job! I feel trapped and frustrated. I dread going to work, watch the clock all day, and look forward to weekends. I get a little depressed every Sunday night, thinking about the work week to come. But I can't quit--I need the money, and the job market is rough out there! What can I do?"
Answer: If you're having a few too many of those 'I hate my job' days (and any is too many, really), you're not alone. But that doesn't mean that you should accept those feelings of dread that accompany even the thought of going to work. You don't have to work at a job you hate, and you probably don't even have to switch jobs to stop working at a job you hate. There are simple steps you can make you find greater satisfaction at your current job.

First, you can gain a better understanding of what's behind that 'I hate my job' feeling. Different people find different things they hate about their jobs, but generally what people hate about work tends to be what contributes to job burnout:

  • Mismatch of Skills- If you are overqualified, you may feel bored; if expectations are too high, you may feel overwhelmed and stressed.

  • Low Control- People need to feel that they have some control over their lives in general, and this certainly applies to jobs. If you feel you can't control what happens to you at your job, you will likely experience almost everything at work as 'more stressful'.

  • High Pressure- Are there heavy consequences if you make a mistake? People often think that working long hours is the big contributor to burnout, but working under high pressure circumstances really adds more stress!

  • Low Recognition- Are you recognized for your achievements? Are you adequately rewarded for your hard work? If not, it generally becomes difficult to stay motivated.

If you find that your job fits some of all of these criteria, or you have that 'I hate my job' feeling for other reasons, it may be understandably stressful to go to work. However, quitting may not be your best option--at least not right away. If you need the job, are concerned about finding a similar or better position, or can't quit for some other reason, don't despair. There are steps you can take to feel less stressed at work and start enjoying work more. Try the following:
  • Incorporate Your Strengths--In order to enjoy your job, you need to be challenged just the right amount--not too much, and not too little. Further still, it's best to be challenged in ways that lead to flow, in strengths at which you naturally excel. Read more about how great jobs incorporate these skills (which are unique for everyone), and how to find job satisfaction by incorporating your strengths into the job you already have.

  • Make Your Job Better--Along the lines of incorporating your skills into your current job, talk to your employer and see if you can 'build a better job for yourself by slightly altering the responsibilities you have. Take on new challenges that can help the company--things you naturally enjoy and do well at--and see if the areas that are overly stressful might be better managed by someone else who excels in that area.

  • Remember The Rewards--When things get difficult, remind yourself of why you're doing this in the first place, keep your eyes on the prize, and remember the rewards you find in your work. If you're having a difficult time, see if you can add a few extra rewards for yourself--give yourself a treat at the end of the day as a reward for hard work. This can be as simple as a nice bubble bath, a relaxing music-listening session, or an evening with friends. Be sure the work is balanced out by play!

  • Laugh About It!--Finding the humor in your situation can turn stressors into stress relievers--or at least it can rob them of their stress-inducing power! Here are some tips on maintaining a sense of humor.
  • Practice Stress Management--If you can relive general stress, you'll likely feel less overwhelmed by specific stressors at your job. Here are some basic but effective stress management techniques.

  • Get Support--Be sure you have support in your life. See if you can organize a supportive network of co-workers to commiserate and congratulate each other in the trials and triumphs of the job. Or create a group among your friends outside of work. These groups can work wonders for one's mood! And if you feel overwhelmed and unable to cope, you can talk to a professional--you don't have to handle an overwhelming situation alone.
  • There are also some things you can do to manage specific job stressors. The following links can help with specific job stress topics:

    Also, About.com has some excellent career resources. For more help planning your career, visit these great sites:

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