I Hate My Job. Now what?

Have you ever been hit by the gut-wrenching realization that you hate your job?

I have. In my case, it was an internship. At the beginning it was exciting, I was learning new skills, meeting new people and being mildly challenged. But about half way in, I started noticing myself looking at the clock more than usual and counting down the minutes until it was an acceptable time to leave the office. On one particular day, I was dreading doing a task that was so central to my role and that’s when I said to myself, “I think I hate my job”.

This was a big moment for me.

I had met countless people who hated their jobs but I just never imagined that it would be me. While I conceived it possible to dislike certain aspects of my job or have bad days at work, I did not think I’d have that feeling right in my gut telling me that I’m in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing.

So if you too have had the realisation that you hate your job, what do you do next? What now?

I managed to work around the situation and ended up loving my overall experience at the company. I want to share how I did that with you 🙂

As usual, I’ll break my approach down into three steps.

Step 1: Acknowledge how you feel and realise you can do something about it

It can be quite disappointing to realise that after going through a tedious job searching process and smiling your way through interviews, you now dislike the very job you worked so hard to get. Also, no one really wants to be that person. The one that’s dissatisfied at work and always complaining about their job.

But the truth of the matter is, it happens. Sometimes your job (or your boss/colleagues or even both!) suck. A surefire way to prolong that dreaded situation is to deny that it exists. Hence step one: acknowledge how you feel.

While having a dissatisfying job is quite universal, the underlying feelings differ for each person. In my case, I was partially disappointed that the job interviews had positioned this job to be growth-driven and wildly challenging but that’s not what I was experiencing. In my professional journey thus far, I had enjoyed my work thoroughly and could easily not look at the time for hours so I despised the fact that I was struggling to be that person at this job.

The essence of this first step is looking beyond the surface feelings to really understand why you feel the way you feel and understand which aspects of your job are triggering these emotions.

Once you’ve understood your emotions, you can move beyond them. Welcome step 2.

Step 2: Figure out what you want

The beauty and the complexity of “I hate my job” situations is that the best way forward is dependent on you and what your ideals are. Some people want to work part-time and travel the world and others want to strive for mastery and climb to CEO level.

The most important question is: what do you want? What is your ideal lifestyle? What’s your dream job? What are your non-negotiables and what are your priorities?

For example, currently my professional priority is growth. It is both my priority and my non-negotiable. I will not accept a job offer which I do not believe will challenge me intellectually and strengthen or broaden my skill set. What I want is to be able to learn at an accelerated pace and be in an environment which demands excellence.

This clarity of desire made it easy for me to realise that the main driver of my dissatisfaction with my job at the time was that I found it unchallenging. In turn, a key feature of my ideal job is being challenged.

Once you’ve reflected on what you want, we can now move on to step 3.

Step 3: Draw up a plan to get from A to B

At this stage of the “I hate my job” reflection, you should have a clear understanding of the core aspects of your job which are driving the ‘hate’ as well as a clear understanding of what the key features of your ideal job are.

The next step is to figure out how you can get from where you currently are, point A, to where you would like to be, point B. This is also a hugely personal process but I’ll highlight a few alternatives to get you thinking.

A. Find a way to make your job work for you

While I’m sure members of the “I hate my job” community have several valid reasons for disliking their jobs, the positive aspects of a job should not be ignored. As with all decisions, it’s important to weigh both sides before reaching a conclusion.

This is the approach that I opted for as I realised that the company’s culture allowed for me to supplement my role such that I could make it more challenging. I took on extra tasks and even decided to learn a new skill with help from someone in an entirely different department. This re-ignited my excitement for my job and the variety and amount of work I had on my plate created the growth-inducing environment I craved!

Depending on what frustrates you about your job, it may be possible that with a few alterations here and there, you can find it tolerable enjoyable. The trick is to deal with the root of the frustration and be unapologetic (within reason) when going about finding a solution.

B.  Find a new job

I could write an entire article on this but luckily, my friend Rama, who recently secured a job at Google while working at Tesla, already did! You can read it here.

C. Take a leap

Perhaps, you don’t even want a job. Maybe this reflective process made you realise that you want to be an entrepreneur or a full-time blogger. Or perhaps, your ideal is so far from your current that you cannot conceive how you’ll get there from where you are.

I want to encourage you to consider taking a leap.

Take the necessary precautions, of course, but take a large step in the direction of your point B. Whether that’s quitting your job or enrolling in chef school… (I could insert a whole bunch of cliches here about how you never really know until you try and we regret the things we didn’t do etc but I think you get it and you’ll know if it applies to you.)

There you have it! How to overcome the “I hate my job” situation in 3 steps.

I’ve intentionally left each step relatively vague because this is an extremely personal process and the purpose of this article is to help you think about the way forward which would work best for you.

I know how frustrating it can be to feel stuck in a job that you ‘hate’ but you can always do something about it. Take the time to understand and acknowledge how you feel, then figure out what exactly you want and how best you can get there.

Lastly, always remember, it’s just a job and you’re not really stuck 🙂