5 ways to deal with a job you hate

Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash

Right, this is where you take control over your situation and make sure that you are the driver, and not in fact the passenger, of your career! I sat in a job I loathed for just over a year and it completely consumed me to the point that if anyone asks me about a personal event/function/memory over that period I almost always have no memory of that day. Why? I may have been at the event physically but I was so consumed with thoughts, anxiety and stress from work that I was not mentally present. Hence there was no memory to be made. Scary right? Since then I have learnt a couple of things on how to deal with a job you hate. These tools have helped me hugely in the last few roles I have had.

Focus on what you enjoy

This sounds so simple, yet it will be very hard to see what you enjoy about your job if you are in a constant state of negativity.

So, when you get to work tomorrow, start the day by writing down three things that you love/like about your job. This could be anything like: “I love the people I work with” or “I like researching and learning new things” or “I love the creative part of my job” or “I enjoy engaging with clients.” Write these on post-it notes and stick them on your desk or computer screen so you can read them every morning.

Our brains are conditioned to focus on the negative, this is the minds survival mechanism. Being the boss of the body, our minds will default to focusing on the negative in order to ensure that our body is always in a fight or flight state. This is an instinctive reaction, so if you want to change your mind set you will need to do some work. By writing down the positive and reminding yourself daily about what you enjoy about your job your outlook will be a happier one.

Know what you can control

If you don’t like your job because of your boss, for example, know that you cannot control your boss’s reactions, personality or leadership style, no matter how frustrated or angry you become. You can confront you boss and give him/her feedback, and from there it is out of your control. Being angry or frustrated will not make them change and therefore these negative emotions are not serving you and are only causing dread within you. Additionally, you may find the same challenge (of a boss you dislike) if you move jobs, so moving would not be the solve here. By getting angry you are simply draining yourself of energy. You can only control your own actions and reactions, not others. In understanding that sometimes the things you don’t like are out of your control, you can let go of them a lot easier.

Own the boredom

Perhaps you hate your job because you are bored. In order to become an absolute master at something, a great deal of “boring” repetition is essential.

Think about the amount of times a football player practices shooting a ball into the goals or how many times an actress must repeat the same lines before filming. In order to become great at anything the amount of times you will have to repeat that task will be significant. Boredom is inevitable. Now I know you’re probably thinking, “Why would I want to repeat something I dislike over and over again?” In order to become damn good, you will need to repeat! No skill can ever be taken away from you and everything you are learning in your current job is a skill that can be added to your CV, so make sure that you become damn good at it.

Be grateful

Practice gratitude for what you have right now in this moment. The current unemployment rate in South Africa is consistently above 20% year on year. If you are currently someone who has a job, that is something to be hugely thankful for.

Your job does not define you

This is a big one. For a long time I believed that my job defined me, that my value was somehow defined by my role or title. It took me many tough years, in jobs I loathed, to realise that I am not my job title or even my academic qualification. If you let your title or qualification define you, you will continue to feel unhappy and unsatisfied with where you are.

Practice separating your identity from your role/title/qualification/job by finding other things that you are truly passionate about and making time to fit these things into your day. I found self love when I made exercise a priority. I had to make the decision that exercise was not optional in my day and not something I would only do “if I had time.” I decided that exercise would be THE priority of my day. In order to prioritise exercise as the most important part of my day I now wake up an hour earlier than before or I go after work. Yes, there are days where I am tired, yes it is hard to do and yes, I drive in traffic for at minimum 2 hours a day, but it is worth it. You are worth it. And in turn my work and relationships have not suffered, they have thrived!

If you still feel like you need a change from your current work environment then maybe it is time for a change! Apply for jobs until you can move. And when I say apply, I am not talking about applying for one or two jobs, I am saying apply for at LEAST fifty. The South African economy is not in a good way, and that means you need to get your CV out there in a BIG way.

Now, until you get the opportunity to change jobs, you can be at peace now that you have taken all the steps within your power to improve your current situation.

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