So, the thought of going to work on Monday morning is filling you with dread? Most of us have days—even weeks sometimes, when work feels hard. It could be the stress of a deadline, a less than inspiring project, or a period of feeling tired of the grind. If we are lucky, the deadline passes leaving us to wonder what the big deal was. We enjoy our co-workers, feel good at our job, marvel at our benefits plan, and take 3 glorious weeks of vacation. Life feels good and we get back into our groove.
But what happens if we don’t? What if there never was a groove? What if feelings of unhappiness linger, weeks turn into months, or worse—years? We can hide our unhappiness at work for a time but it shows up somehow. Our lack lustre motivation can lead to sloppy work, missed deadlines, or mistakes. Our unhappiness can create tension with coworkers, clients, customers, or our boss. No matter if the cause is overworking, boredom, poor fit, or the commute. It can take a toll on our physical and mental health.
Why do we stay in situations that aren’t working? Why do we stay in jobs we hate? A lot of us do and for a myriad of reasons, according to some of my clients. Reasons for not leaving a job we hate can include not knowing how or if we should, our age, money, qualifications, and fear, to name a few.
If you can relate to any of the above, I’ve come up with 3 Small Steps to Take When You Hate Your Job. Spoiler alert: none of the steps I’m about to offer involve quitting. Of course, it’s possible that could become an option for you but I would like to offer a few small steps to take first. They are:
1. Learn to Rest
2. Learn to Connect
3. Learn to Contribute.
Let’s talk about these:
There is a saying “If you’re tired, learn to rest not to quit.” If you are chronically stressed at work, it's important to take your breaks and your vacation time. Also avoid staying late, coming in early, or working on your days off. If you are feeling stressed out, anxious, or overwhelmed, this will feel hard. This will feel like the opposite of what your brain is telling you to do. The pressure to continue to burn the candle at both ends will be real if this is what your workplace normalizes. If it is, you’ll need to consider how much of an impact this is having on you and your health. Again, not giving so much of yourself might not be easy, but it could be necessary. Also, work on getting enough sleep. If this is a struggle for you please consider speaking to your doctor about it. Sleep impacts our mood, memory and health in far-reaching and surprising ways. Learn to rest.
When you are feeling unhappy you might not feel super social. In fact, you may isolate yourself. You might move to activities that distract or “numb” you from your thoughts and feelings. Unplug from your device sometimes, find a hobby, go outside, enjoy nature, move, read, or write. Reach out to friends and family to share what you’re going through and plan some fun activities. Give yourself things to look forward to outside of work. Especially during times that you expect to feel blue (those Monday Blues for example). Learn to connect.
Become a contributor, or if you already are one, contribute more. Giving provides a boost in morale, increases happiness, and gives us a greater purpose in life. It also lowers stress levels. Find ways to show your gratitude—journal or give some thanks each night before bed. Try to take time to notice and appreciate things you like about your work and your life. Find a cause, event, or community organization you can care about and contribute. Volunteer your time or services to something bigger. Find a way to connect to some sort of purpose outside of your work. Learn to contribute.
Taking your attention away from work when it sucks can seem counter-intuitive. When your thoughts jump to how unhappy you are at work you need some perspective. It’s important to be aware that any job can have its ups and downs. You’ll want to be sure it is truly your job that’s the problem before you make any big decisions about it. Learning these three things, can help. Remember—Rest, Connect, Contribute.
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I'm Christine, a Career Counsellor + Change Coach who works with folks who are tired of being unhappy at work. We figure out what needs to change and then make it happen. Check out my private coaching and group membership options!