5 steps to get through work when you hate your job
We’ve all been there (well I’d say the majority). Stuck in a job that we worked hard to get, career on track, theoretically a ‘success’ on the outside. But on the inside, it's a different story.
One voice cheerleading us along, telling us how great we’re doing and how silly we’d be to throw it all away. The other voice telling us to run for the hills and never look back!
So what to do when we’re in a job we dislike but we’re unable to quit?
Below are four steps that helped me, and I hope they help you too.
1. Reframe, reframe, reframe
Words are powerful and the things that we tell ourselves affect how we feel on a day-to-day basis.
At the most basic level, negative thoughts = negative emotions; positive thoughts = positive emotions.
So, with this in mind, the first step would be to identify the story that you’re telling yourself, are you saying things like ‘I hate this job’, ‘I can’t do this anymore’, ‘Why can’t I just be happy with my lot’ or other statements that make you feel less than happy?
(I recommend keeping a journal and writing them down to start with, over time it’ll become second nature to catch yourself in the act of these thoughts.)
Next is to understand that you don’t have to play this record - you can change the tune and tell yourself a different story. This, my friend, may be simple, but it can lead to a lot of relief... if you can find the right words.
So, here’s an example, instead of saying ‘I hate this job, I can’t stand it anymore!’ reframe it to, ‘This might not be my perfect job but I’m choosing to do this right now. In the future, I’ll likely be doing something different.’
Do you see the difference in how each statement would make a person feel?
The first implies that you are experiencing a very negative emotion and are powerless over your situation.
The second acknowledges...
a) It's not perfect but;
b) It is a choice - when we add ‘choice’ into the equation we are no longer powerless. It’s important to realise that everything is a choice (even if it doesn’t always feel like it). You could choose to resign but working in this job might be less painful than leaving and not being able to pay the bills;
c) It offers hope that you can plan for a different path, and hope is what gets us through.
So, every time you catch yourself making a negative statement about your work, I suggest you reframe it into a more powerful one, as demonstrated above, because how we speak to ourselves (our thoughts) determine our emotions, so if we want to feel better, we need to think better.
As a side note, this isn’t saying we should dismiss our feelings, they are there to be acknowledged, but we need to figure out better ways to work with them to reduce the emotional suffering they can inflict.
2. Practice self-compassion
Sometimes we can be hard on ourselves, maybe we feel like we’re the only one complaining while everyone else is getting on with things. We can even feel guilty for not being more grateful for what we have.
But here’s the thing; When we ignore that gut feeling, that internal compass of what we like and don’t like when things are good or something’s off, we get led further and further off course until we lose ourselves.
It’s like when you had something you really loved to do but over the years you got busy and it slowly spiralled out of your reality, and then one day you get the chance to do that thing and suddenly you feel so alive! You feel... well, you again!
Keep choosing you.
Emotional awareness, trusting your gut, listening to what's coming up is the key to it all, so be thankful that your body and thoughts are signalling to you - and be grateful that you’re actually noticing them (because most people do not).I can’t even begin to explain how powerful this is!
3. Understand limiting beliefs for what they are - beliefs that limit you
The thing is that most of us are fed beliefs about what it is to work from childhood, and quite often they’re negative beliefs.
We've often been told or witnessed this from our role models (as children we don't develop the critical mind where we're able to question what's true and not until around eight years old which means until this age, we soak it all up as fact).
For example, you may have heard statements like 'nobody enjoys work, that’s why it's called work’, and that ‘we just need to get our heads down and get on with it’. Or maybe you witness a parent who hated their job but believed they didn't have any other choice.
Now the question. Do you have any of these inner beliefs? And if so, are they helpful to your life, or do they leave you feeling worse off?
Realise that beliefs are not truth - they are just conclusions people have made based on their experiences - either from their own personal experience or something they have observed (often from childhood).
If you realise that you have a belief that feels disempowering, don’t be afraid to question it.
It's true, many people hate their jobs, and many people are stuck there forever but in most cases, it's not because they're forced to be there and can’t do anything else, it's because of their beliefs, their beliefs are their mental prison, keeping them stuck in that reality.
Beliefs are a powerful thing.
There are also many people who absolutely love their work, who to them, work is not working.
I love my work (I didn’t in my previous marketing career, in fact, I began to hate it) but I thrive in this. That doesn’t mean it's always easy or I never have 'one of those days' where I feel tired and resistant to do anything, but when I get started, I love what I do, to me, it doesn’t feel like work.
4. Be grateful
Gratitude has become a bit of a cliché in the self-growth arena but there’s a reason for this; it's simple, and it works.
Ever lost anything (or anyone) and then realised how much you took it for granted? I know I have. Sometimes I’ve managed to get that thing back, other times, I’ve not, but it taught me one powerful lesson; to be grateful and not to take things for granted.
So, an amazingly simple but powerful practice is to begin a daily gratitude list, write down at least three things you’re grateful for, (more if you can).
You can write general things because this will uplift your general mood, but if you can, try to write some things you are grateful for about work. For example, the wage you receive, the opportunities, the colleagues, even the office coffee, anything you can think of!
Try to look for different things to be grateful for each day. It trains your mind to look for the good in everything and the more you see life and work in a positive light, the better you will feel.
Pro tip: add it to an existing habit so you don’t forget to do it. For example, right after breakfast, with your morning coffee or after brushing your teeth at night.
5. Be proactive - then you can get excited about the future!
Don’t just settle. The above tips are really helpful for reducing your resistance towards work and boosting your feelings (they’re actually great to apply as principles for improving every area of life), however, if your gut, your intuition is telling you something off, listen to it and do something about it.
Here’s how to get started...
5.1 Brainstorm what you need to do (and get specific)
Identify the exact issue - is it that you hate your job and want to find your purpose?
Or is it that you hate this job but you might be happier if you had a slightly different role, pay grade, boss, worked in a different company or industry?
5.2 Take action (thinking alone cannot solve this, I learned the hard way)
Once you’ve gotten specific, you can plan step two, for example, if you hate your job and want to find your purpose - how can you find your purpose?
One option would be to DIY it; read life purpose books, investigate different careers, try your hand at different things, have new experiences, see what’s out there. This is what most people start with.
The other option (which people usually do after the first option) is to hire a soul purpose coach like myself because sometimes things can get overwhelming and confusing.
I spent many years trying to find my purpose and going around in circles because I didn’t realise I was being held back by so many limiting beliefs, so much childhood conditioning, as well as other areas that needed to be developed, such as my confidence.
For example, I would never have thought of being a coach because I lacked the confidence to believe I could do that. Only when I built up my confidence did this even enter my reality as a possibility. So it can be helpful to have someone to shine a light on the things that you cannot yet see for yourself.
So, beware of these things which can cloak you finding your purpose.
"We’re all born with a purpose, and the world needs yours."