No matter how awesome your job is at the beginning, at some point, you’re going to hate it. It’s like being in a relationship. Once the honeymoon phase dies down, you’ll go through a period of time wondering if you could be happier elsewhere. And maybe you will. But more often than not, we give into our negativity without considering that rough patches are just a natural part of commitment. Sometimes, truly loving something – in this case, a job – requires that you learn to adapt to your circumstances instead of running away from them.
We know that’s easier said than done. How is it possible to love a job that doesn’t pay as well as it should? Or to love being around colleagues whose annoying chatter sends you into a rage? Before quitting, try the following things to see if you can experience a change of heart.
1. Figure out what’s different now
Chances are, you didn’t hate your job the first day you walked in, so figure out what’s different now and if it’s something that you can change. If it’s because there’s new management, then it’s clear that you can pursue the same job elsewhere, but with better people. If you hate it now because you have more work than before, perhaps getting some support from your colleagues (or even admitting to the boss that you’re burning out) will help. If you’ve simply gotten tired of your work, get involved in an extra project that will actually challenge you.
2. Do work that matters to you
Speaking of extra projects, one of the easiest ways to get into a job rut is by doing work that feels purposeless. Start keeping a work diary filled with assignments and accomplishments. Every couple of weeks, look back at what you’ve achieved to see if you can find any meaning in it. Like we always say, you won’t necessarily be rescuing orphans in Cambodia – you just need to know that the projects are either creatively fulfilling, or they have a measurable impact on the company. If they don’t, talk to your bosses or your colleagues to see if there’s anything else you can try.
3. Avoid gossip and negativity
If you hate your job, we can guarantee that one of your colleagues feels the same way. The two of you might have even gravitated toward each other, having forged on a bond based on your shared misery. But the more angst and anger you and your colleagues pour into your boss, the work, or the long hours, the more strongly you’ll feel about the injustice of it all and the more unlikely you will be to just tough it out. Banding together might be necessary when it comes to things that are flat-out abusive, like sexual harassment in the workplace, but if the matter concerns just the typical work gripes, you’re only going to feel worse having people’s complaints rub off on you.
4. Figure out if you’re the one at fault
Hey, maybe the reason you hate your job so much is that you’re part of the problem. You take criticism far too personally, you don’t click with the rest of your team, and you work late hours because you have such a hard time getting started in the day. Naturally, you’ll end up hating all of your jobs if you’re unable to adapt to them.
5. Be grateful for the little things
One of the easiest ways to battle negativity is by brainwashing yourself with positivity. Convince yourself that your job is awesome and that you have it way better than most of your friends. Find little things that you can enjoy – be your cubicle’s comfy location, the canteen’s awesome food, the easy commute, or even the fact that you can show up to work in casual clothing. Experiencing joy in the details is only the first step in experiencing it with your job in general.
6. Be a blessing to the people around you
“It’s better to give than receive” might be an age-old cliché, but there are tons of studies showing that helping others makes you happy as well. If you’re feeling dissatisfied about your job, know that someone else on the team feels the same way – but don’t stop there. Do something to alleviate their struggle. Compliment them on their work, take them out to lunch, or simply thank them for something that they did. This will let them know that they matter, somehow, which will in turn contribute to a more positive environment.
7. Locate the actual source of your stress – and then learn some stress busting techniques
Fatigue, hormones, or personal circumstances have a way of exacerbating discontentment to the point that it feels unbearable. This is where you’re going to need some discernment. When you start feeling angry about something at work, take the time to measure your emotional reaction against what’s actually happening. Maybe what’s happening in the office is aggravating an existing problem in your life, such as your insecurity – because you already feel inferior to your friends with more glamorous careers, you feel even more pissed off when it seems like the team is going nowhere. This in turn makes you feel even more insecure about your future, thus beginning a vicious cycle of hopelessness and stress. If you’re someone who tends to go into a tailspin, learn to recognise an emotional reaction and deal with it before it starts affecting your judgment.
8. Make some friends at work
If you don’t feel relevant at work, make yourself relevant in people’s lives. The feeling that you don’t matter, and that your boss regards you as a resource to be tapped rather than as an actual person, will greatly diminish when invest in relationships. When you’re someone’s friend, you matter. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have teammates who care enough to back you up or cover for you when things at work go awry. You can even find someone more experienced than you who can act as a mentor. As a bonus, you’ll enlarge your network – if the time actually comes to look for a new job, your colleague might know somebody in another department or company who can help you out.
9. Keep a paper trail of everything that you do
Remember that work diary we mentioned earlier? You’ll need it when the time comes for performance appraisals and salary negotiation. Save your emails, take detailed notes on the outcome of your projects, and write down how you feel about what’s happening in the office. In addition to giving yourself some perspective, you’ll have a powerful resource for quantifying your efforts. Who knows – maybe being able to prove and measure all of your accomplishments will inspire your bosses to give you better projects (and more pay) in the coming financial year.
10. Don’t make work your “ultimate thing”
We can’t stress this one enough. Sure, “work-life balance” might sound like a joke at this point, but if the job you hate takes over your life, then you’re basically going to hate everything. Can’t get validation from your boss? Look for it outside of work. Feel like your tasks are all shallow and pointless? Volunteer for a cause that you actually believe in. Find one non-negotiable, be it your husband, your kids, or the place you volunteer, and make it a priority above work. By knowing that your source of security lies outside of the office, you’ll be less affected by everything that happens. Everything will be tolerable. Work may never be your ultimate source of joy, but then again, it will never put you in a state of despair.