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Can you be happy in a job you hate?

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Many workers claim to hate their jobs but we each have our own reasons for putting up with them. However, being in a job you hate can have several consequences for your health and well-being. The best way to change your situation starts with transforming your own perspective and allowing more happiness into your life.

If your mood sours and your stress levels rise when Monday rolls around, you are probably among the many workers who claim to hate their jobs. However, leaving your job is not always the most realistic solution.

For many workers “I can't quit my job” is a statement usually uttered in frustration as they remain in a job that they hate, but are reluctant to quit due to financial commitments or other related issues that make it difficult to just walk away and find a newer better job. And in times of crisis or economic uncertainty many workers will remain in a job that they hate, sacrificing their personal and mental health for the financial well-being of others.

Although the best solution is to leave the job you hate, it is not always the most practical. So, the question remains for many workers: how can you survive the daily demands of work when you want no part of it? How do you keep up your level of performance? Is it even possible when your mind constantly screams, "I hate my job"?

AnchorUnravelling the negativity

The first thing is to understand what it means to be in a job you hate. Do you dislike your company, your boss, your industry, or is it just everything to do with the grind of working life?

Many people stay in a job that they hate to the detriment of their emotional and physical well-being. Studies have found that workers who stay in jobs they hate end up worrying excessively, suffer from anxiety and can have a range of physical ailments brought on by a high degree of stress such as muscle pains and chronic back-ache, compared workers who are content with their roles. And their findings don't stop there. They also discovered that:

  • You are more likely to gain weight due to stress and lack of drive to exercise.
  • You are subject to high stress levels which can lead to burnout.
  • You lose sleep which can impair your memory, judgement, and vision.
  • You may bring your unhappiness to others, unintentionally directing your negativity to them.
  • You will find it difficult to do more than the bare minimum when it comes to work.
  • Your confidence and self-worth plummets when you feel forced to do work you hate.

You might have realized by now that there's a lot more at stake when you have to stay in a job you hate. Yet, you can turn things around and lessen the negative impacts by reflecting on your situation. Ask yourself, "why do I hate my job?"

AnchorWhy I hate my job

It shouldn't be too hard to find answers. After you've listed them down, check how many of your reasons are due to external circumstances and if there are any that point to yourself.  It's easier to change issues that you can control and near impossible to change ones that you can't, such as difficult co-workers or your boss. And so, you can start by changing first your own outlook on your job.

It's a hard pill to swallow but most stress is a result of a mismatch between your own beliefs and the reality of the situation. When you don't know what you want from your job, you will always find it difficult to feel fulfilled, thinking "I'm frustrated in my job," no matter what job it is. This means that even if you do leave your job, it's highly possible that you will end up hating the next one eventually.

AnchorTransforming your perspective

So, what to do if you hate your job but you want to make it work?

First, you have to think back on why you are unhappy. Understanding and awareness of the reasons for your unhappiness can help you formulate a plan of action. You need to get to the root of the problem and your frustrations so you can address them directly. It's alright if you are not able to find a solution for every single one. What matters is you have lessened your reasons for hating your job, which can have a profound effect on your mood.

Oftentimes, the causes of your unhappiness at work can be divided into three areas of improvement:

AnchorThe working environment

External factors of unhappiness at work, like difficult co-workers and bosses, are difficult to change but you must try speaking up or making a change first before writing them off as lost causes. Some solutions may require opening a conversation with your manager.

Don't be afraid to speak up about the issues affecting your well-being at work. Your manager most of the time is in the best position to provide solutions for you so talk to them about providing alternative arrangements or acting as a mediator on certain matters.

Even if there's no immediate improvement on the situation, just being able to communicate more freely with your boss can already increase your engagement at work. When your opinions feel valued and heard, your motivation and productivity improve by leaps and bounds.

AnchorYour work attitude

The bulk of your adjustment will center on your attitude toward work. To help you cope with the day-to-day frustrations, focus on your purpose. Remind yourself why you have to stay in your job in the first place. Centering yourself on your "why" can ground your emotions and control your negative thoughts. You can think of how your job is supporting your family, and how working at a job you don't like is a sacrifice you're willing to make for a goal that's greater than any negative feelings you have.

At the same time, you can give yourself a mental break from the issues at work by focusing on what you can still gain from it. Since you will be staying at your current post for a while, make the most of your time by honing a skill. When you think about it in the long run, anything you learn here will be beneficial to you in the future. Utilize your resources and make learning something new your new goal.

AnchorYour personal time

Lastly, don't neglect your "me" time. Your life outside work can be a source of comfort where you can de-stress. By preventing your unhappiness at work from draining your energy way past your working hours, you are allowing more positive emotions to take place in your daily life. Don't bring your work home and set boundaries when answering work calls outside of reasonable hours.

Moreover, it follows that your time outside work should also be free from stress for you to truly relax. Try to carve out more downtime from your other responsibilities whenever possible. Any form of happiness that you can continue to get from outside work can also serve to motivate you when it comes to dealing with stress in the workplace.

AnchorFriendly advice

Another coping strategy is the tried-and-trusted way of venting to others. Talk therapy works so open up to a trusted co-worker or friend who can share your problems and relate to your experiences. It can help you foster a better support system at work which is known to help boost our mood. However, take care in airing your grievances and don't vent for the sake of it or to make it known that you are frustrated.

Try to keep venting an in-person conversation and don't do it through social media as the more you broadcast your distaste, it will probably get back to the wrong person who will likely share them with co-workers, supervisors and even senior executives - this may paint you in a bad light giving you the reputation as a trouble maker.

Not everyone has the privilege of quitting their job anytime they please. We have commitments that tie us to our jobs and we are willing to bear with some sacrifice for the things we value. Though working in a job, you hate is difficult on several fronts, there are just as many ways for you to cope. In the bigger picture, your efforts will matter in helping you reach a deeper and more lasting happiness. 

Half the Sky's mission is to supply the tools that can give every woman the ability to build a successful career and be fully prepared for the future of work. So, that they can lead a healthy, prosperous and more balanced/blended lifestyle of their choosing.  By building your confidence, you’re setting foundations to empower yourself and your career.  The world is your oyster, and it starts with you. 

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