Lately, I seem to have run into a higher than usual proportion of people who claim to hate their jobs. Some of them seem very convinced of this and some maybe just love to hate. Now, often people are just expressing a momentary frustration (a dangerous thing to do in the presence of a literal thinker like yours truly – just sayin’). These momentarily frustrated people are primarily satisfied in their job 80% of the time or even more and just have occasional flare ups of dissatisfaction. But there are, on the other hand, people who are genuinely, chronically and terminally out of love with their job, occupation or industry.
If you have thought or said that you hate your job on a more or less consistent basis for, say, more than six months, then you just may actually hate it. The coach in me just can’t leave a statement like that alone, so when this is the case I think it’s good to ask yourself:
Part 1. What is it about this job in particular you hate? Is it the commute, your peers, your boss, your customers, the mission of the company, the industry, the tasks you are required to perform, is it monotonous (or conversely, too chaotic), unethical, boring, too difficult?
I recommend a very thorough analysis of the above points. Be as detailed as you can. This is the time to whine, people…get it all out and figure out what is it about this particular job that is pressing your buttons.
Part 2. This is the kicker, take a very good and honest look at your employment history. Is this particular job the only one where you’ve felt this way or is there a pattern? This is going to be the key to your happiness, so do not skimp on thoroughness and honesty here. If you have a pattern of chronic dissatisfaction, your solution will be much different than if you’re a generally satisfied employee except for now.
Part 3. If you have done your homework you will now have realized one of two things:
A) I love my career but I hate this particular job or
B) I hate my career
If you hate your particular job you will probably have a good idea of why. Now look at the why and determine whether it is changeable. For example, if it’s your boss, and he owns the company, that is probably not changeable. Some things will be. It might be worthwhile to have a discussion with your supervisor about what you’d like to change. Come prepared with solutions. If things can be changed, great! If they can’t, you will need to ask yourself if you can accept the status quo and learn to be happy or if you need to find a new job (I know a great resume writer if that’s the case).
On the other hand, what if you hate your career? Going through the discovery process may lead you to realize that you are not pursuing your dream, and have ‘settled’ for something that is now making you miserable. Pursuing dreams is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes it is accompanied by financial insecurity or other potential negative outcomes. You could fail. It might not be as good as you thought it would be and you would have a -gasp- crushed hope. Everyone has a different threshold of financial need, faith, risk tolerance and fear factor. The pain of hating your career may drive you over that threshold, or it may drive you into acceptance of existing circumstances (made easier by practicing gratitude for the things in your life you don’t hate).
There is clearly no right or wrong answer, but if you do feel regularly like you hate your job, there are things you can do to ease the discomfort. If you have hated a job, or currently hate your job, I’d love to hear your story!
Carrie Maldonado is owner of Limitless HR Solutions, a Seattle-based management consulting firm. As a certified HR Professional, executive coach and resume writer, Carrie divides her time between consulting with small to mid-size businesses and career coaching with executives in transition. Carrie and her husband Tony (owner of Limitless Fitness) partner together in delivering corporate wellness solutions. When not coaching or consulting, Carrie is a novelist and mother to a daughter and twin sons. Carrie can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 949.354.1588.