• Anita Chastain, MBA

7 Things You Can Do When You Hate Your Job but Can't Quit

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

Stuck in a job you hate? Read on to learn seven things you can do to make a bad job better.

Woman looking at a computer screen

Are you stuck in a bad job? A job so bad that you start dreading Monday on Sunday afternoon? If so, you’re not alone.

Many Americans can’t stand their job.

This problem is so common that, on Sundays, most Americans get stressed out about going back to work on Monday. There's even a name for this dread. It's called the Sunday scaries.

If you've experienced the Sunday scaries, you're not alone. According to a 2018 LinkedIn survey, 80% of working professionals start worrying about work on Sunday.

There are a lot of reasons why people don't like their job. Maybe the workload is overwhelming, or the boss is a jerk, or they don’t like their coworkers. Or maybe they just don’t like the work.

Whatever the reason, there are things you can do to make a bad job better...not perfect, but better.

I believe in dealing with the reality of what we face, even if we don't like that reality. That's why the seven suggestions in this article focus on things you can actually do. Sometimes you read suggestions that just aren't realistic.

For example, some people will tell you to find a different job if you don’t like the job you’re in. And that’s reasonable, but it takes time.

In the meantime, you're stuck in your current job. And need strategies to deal with the situation today.

What can you do right now? Read on to find out.

7 Things You Can Do When You Hate Your Job

Let’s look at some practical steps you can take to make the job more tolerable.

1. Write down three things your paycheck makes possible.

Choose three things that wouldn’t be possible without the income from your job.

Write those three things down in a reminder or note in your phone. When you're struggling to get through the day or hour, or right now, read through the list. If nothing else, that's something good that you get from the job. Even though money isn’t the most important thing in life, there’s something to be said for financial stability.

We all have bills to pay. That's the reality of life. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that the job, as awful as it is, provides the financial security that makes life a little easier. That paycheck will keep your life afloat until a better opportunity comes along.

You can’t make the best decisions if you haven't thought through the consequences.

2. List three ways your life would be more difficult if you quit your job without having another one to take its place.

There may be a time that you just want to walk away. I once had a job that was so awful, I had frequent dreams of walking away. But, I wasn't in a position to do that. And knowing that, kept me from making a financially catastrophic decision.

I hated the job. I didn't want to be there, but I knew quitting would create a whole new level of problems that I wasn't equipped to deal with.

If you're tempted to just walk off the job, think realistically about how your life would change if you lost the paycheck you’re getting right now. I call this thinking forward.

Look into the future and try to predict the consequences of walking away without another job to replace this one. Ultimately, you have to decide what you can live with and without. Just make sure that you’ve thought through the consequences of losing your paycheck before you make that decision. You can't make good decisions if you haven't thought through the potential consequences of those decisions. Think forward before you quit.

3. Name three coworkers or other people at work that you appreciate.

You'll find good people in even the worst work environments. What makes them good may be that they're cheerful or helpful or trustworthy. Maybe they do everything they can to make sure you have what you need to do your job well.

It doesn’t matter what you appreciate about them, what matters is that you’re aware that they make your workday better. Relationships at work make a big difference in how you feel about the job. When you spend a lot of time focusing on how much you dislike the job, it’s easy to forget that there are good people around you.

Anytime you can find some good in a bad situation, the good makes the bad easier to deal with. And that's why this suggestion is important. Try to build and maintain good relationships with your coworkers. Good working relationships make the workday less stressful and the work environment more tolerable.

4. Replace a negative thought about the job with a positive thought instead.

I'm one of those people who believe that when you focus on the good around you, you notice the good more than the bad. If I'm in my car and start noticing all the silver cars around me, pretty soon I notice way more silver cars than white, red, or green cars.

When you hate your job, it's really important to find something good to focus on:

Maybe you like the people you work with. Maybe you have a short commute. Maybe you feel like your work makes a difference to someone else. Or maybe you can see out the window from your desk.

Whatever you come up with, focus on the positive and the negative becomes less noticeable. Here's the thing:

This isn't easy. You will have to summon up a fair amount of mental energy to do this. But if you do make that effort and you start replacing your negative thoughts about the job with something positive, the work situation becomes a little more tolerable. Remember... when you focus on the good, you notice the good more than the bad.

Being able to pinpoint how your work helps someone else makes your own work more meaningful.

5. Think about how you make someone else’s life easier or better because of the job you do.

Doing good for others makes us feel better. The good feeling that motivates volunteers to donate their time to charity organizations can motivate us to get through the workday.

Take a few minutes to think about how your work benefits someone else. Maybe the work you do makes customers’ lives better or helps your coworkers do their job. Whatever it is, be proud of the fact that your work has a positive impact on someone else's life. Seeing how your work makes a difference o someone else, makes it a little easier to deal with the things you don’t like.

That awareness won’t make the bad parts of your job go away, but it does put them in perspective. Seeing how your work helps someone else, makes the effort you put in more worthwhile and makes it easier to get through the bad days.

6. Thank a co-worker for helping you or making your work easier or faster.

Gratitude changes how we think about our circumstances. It makes us feel better physically and psychologically.

Let the power of gratitude help you get through the workday. How? It's simple:

Tell someone that you appreciate what they did. Don't fake it, people see right through fake appreciation. Choose something your co-worker did that you really are grateful for.

People appreciate it when their efforts are recognized. The end result is a win for everyone: you feel good and so do they. Be generous with your appreciation and you'll build stronger work relationships too.

You won’t always like everyone you work with, and they won’t always like you - but treat them professionally anyway.

7. Treat everyone with courtesy and respect, even when they don’t treat you the same way.

It's a fact of life that we don’t always like everyone we work with, and they don’t always like us. And that's ok because you don't have to like them or want to spend time with them to work with them.

You can work with people you don't like and over the course of your career, you will find yourself in this situation at least once if not more than that. Regardless of how you feel about them, it’s important to interact with them in a professional way. That means being courteous and respectful to them, even when they don't treat you with the same courtesy and respect.

If you don't treat them professionally, the tension between the two of you will continue to rise. As tension rises, your misery quotient increases. The deterioration in that working relationship will make your time on the job more miserable. In the end, it's better to be courteous and respectful even when you don't feel like it. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it will also make your job easier.

Final Thoughts

When you can't quit a job that you hate, find ways to make the situation more bearable.

A big part of that is putting more energy and effort into the positive aspects of the job. The more positive thoughts you have about your job, the less prominent your negative thoughts about the job become.

In other words:

The more you focus on the good, the less bad you notice.

This doesn't mean the job will be perfect and the problems will go away.

The job won't change, but you will. And the change in you will make it easier to hang on until you can find something else.

What do you do to make a bad job better? Email me at anita (@) simplelife365.com and let me know.


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