“I hate my job, but I can’t quit because I need the money” is one of the most common complaints in modern society. Whether it’s because you don’t get paid what you think you deserve, your boss is horrible, you don’t like what you do or you just get bored, the truth is that hating your job can end up affecting your physical and mental health. It is not for less if we consider that we spend almost a third of our lives working.
Why do some people hate their jobs?
A survey conducted in the United States revealed that 63% of people think they do a mediocre job and 32% admit that they hate their job because they consider it bad. There are many reasons that lead us to hate out job, some of the most common are:
• Low pay or no benefits
• A bad boss
• A toxic work environment
• Poor communication in the work environment
• Long or stressful trips to work every day
• A boring job that demands monotonous tasks
• An inappropriate schedule that does not fit into our lifestyle
• A very demanding job with little recognition
Interestingly, that same survey found a correlation between health status and level of job satisfaction, revealing that people who hate their jobs and don’t feel comfortable also tend to have more health problems.
What can you do?
If the sentence “I hate my job” has become a personal mantra that you repeat all the time, now is the time to do something. In that case, you have two options: change your mindset or change the circumstances.
It is important to start from the fact that most of the definitions of “job” that we have developed include the notion of obligation. This leads us to see our job from a more negative prism since we perceive it as something unwanted and imposed. And the more ingrained that concept is in our minds, the more likely we will hate our work.
This negative association is not modern but has ancient origins. In fact, the word “job” seems to derive frome the greek “kópos” which means “a blow”. In French and Spanish the word for Job is rispectively “travail” and “trabajo” both coming from the Latin tripalium, which was a tool similar to a stocks with three points or feet that was used to hold horses or oxen and to shoe them. It was also used as an instrument of torture to punish slaves or prisoners, so it also means torture or torment. Obviously, with those associations in mind, it is difficult for us to enjoy our job.
Leisure time, however, is the antithesis of work and we associate it with freedom. In fact, a very interesting study conducted at the University of Freiburg revealed that although many people rated their free time as less exciting than work, they found it to be more enjoyable, regardless of the level of stress they might have at work.
One strategy for developing a more positive outlook toward our job comes from philosopher Alan Watts, who said, “This is the true secret of life: being fully committed to what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize that it is a game.” It is, therefore, about finding the positive and playful part of the job.
If you can’t find it, you still have the possibility to change your circumstances. You may be thinking, “I hate my job, but I need the money, so I can’t quit.” True, but it is only half the story.
Like most situations in life, there are things you can control and others that are beyond your control. It is convenient that you reflect on the things you hate about your job and detect those that you can change. Maybe you could ask for a raise or a change in schedule. Or you could move closer to work to avoid traffic. Those changes are likely to make you feel better and are enough to keep you in that job.
However, there are times when the only solution is to quit your job. You probably need to work for a living, like most mortals, but that doesn’t mean you’re tied to a job you hate. There are three signs telling you must consider to change your job:
1. Exhaustion. You feel constantly without energy, even when you rest. Thinking about your job just drains you psychologically and physically.
2. Cynicism or depersonalization. You’ve reached a point where everything irritates you, both the clients and your coworkers. You have stopped believing in the importance of what you do.
3. Ineffectiveness. You have become less productive and you feel incapable of coping with the tasks that you previously carried out with agility.
Remember that we do not have to do a work that does not provide us with professional or personal satisfaction throughout life. If you have decided that this job is not for you, the best thing you can do is to establish a medium-term action plan to take a professional path that is more satisfying for you and will fill you completely. Getting out of your comfort zone can be scary, but it’s even worse to slowly wither away at a job you hate.
Rothwell, J. & Crabtree, S. (2019) Not Just a Job: New Evidence on the Quality of Work in the United States. In: Gallup.
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Biskup, M. J. et. Al. (2019) Just how miserable is work? A meta-analysis comparing work and non-work affect. PLoS One; 14(3): e0212594.
Myrtek, M. et. Al. (1999) Stress and strain of blue and white collar workers during work and leisure time: results of psychophysiological and behavioral monitoring. Appl Ergon; 30(4): 341-351.