How to Survive (and Thrive!) in a Job You Hate


Somewhere, sometime in life, everyone has a job they hate. Whether the hours are terrible, the pay is awful, the coworkers are wretched, or the boss is horrid, hated jobs are very much a thing of the present. We work them for different reasons, for different lengths of time, and with different levels of satisfaction, but almost all of us work them at some point. For many people, these jobs are a drag that make them feel like hollow shells of their former selves. However, there are a few people who manage to survive and thrive in jobs they really don't like. Here are a few of their secrets for making that hated job easier. (See also: What to Do When You Want to Quit Your Job)

Know Why You're There

Whether you took the job in the first place because you thought it was something other than it turned out to be or because you absolutely had to make rent and couldn't do it any other way, knowing why you took the job will help you maintain perspective while you're there. Remembering the process that led up to your current situation: the job search, the interviews, your conversations with others about the job, your conversations with yourself about it, hearing that you had the job, your acceptance of it, and anything else you went through during that time will remind you that you are more than your job. YOU took IT for a good reason. If that reason isn't so good anymore, well, then it's time to reevaluate. But you can do that, because you are more than the job.

Know What You Really Want

Often, a terrible job will help you know what you would want in a good job. So go ahead and note what these things are! Are your current coworkers loud? Note that you would like a job where you can have quiet time to focus, at least when working on large projects. Is your boss always second-guessing or changing your decisions? Note that you would like a job where employees are trusted and tasks are truly delegated. Go through the process of actually writing these things down. When you have a physical list of what you want, your current job won't seem so worthless. After all, it helped you learn what to look for next!

Once you have this list, add to it the things you've dreamed about doing. Would you like a job that requires a lot of problem-solving instead of a set group of tasks? Include that. Would you rather work for yourself? Note it. Have you always dreamed of writing for a living? Put it down.

Whether you're in a position to actually go out and look for another job or not, this list shows what you know about yourself, job-wise. And knowing what you want is often the first step towards getting it.

Know Your Motivation for Staying

If you're planning to stay in a job you dislike, it's important that you know why. Is your current job the only one in your area that fits your skills? Or do you need it to keep your children fed and clothed? Whatever the reason, remembering what it is and keeping it at the forefront of your consciousness makes working a difficult job easier. When you do this, you end up working not for the job itself, but for whatever the motivation is behind your being there. The job becomes more than a job: it becomes a way to fulfill whatever desire moved you to take it in the first place.

Make a Conscious Choice to Stay

Knowing your motivation also makes it possible for you to evaluate it. Maybe you wanted a job close to home because you were newly married and wanted to spend as much time as possible with your new husband. Now, he's working regular hours and taking some night classes, so your short commute doesn't net the two of your more time. While working the hated job might have been worth it for the time together, it's not when it doesn't produce that result. Or maybe you realize that you qualify for lots of different jobs of the same type that you're working now, and you realize that a different work environment might make things much more tolerable. Whatever your motivation, consider carefully whether it's enough motivation to stay at the job.

If your motivation is enough for you to keep the hated job, make staying a conscious choice. Own your choice. You do not HAVE to stay at the job, but you CHOOSE to. And you know the reasons behind your choice, and that they are enough to outweigh the fact that you hate what you're doing. Deliberately choosing to stay will help you own the job. It will help you to feel, in some small way, like you are doing what you want to do (because you do want it, even if only from the perspective that it is better than any current alternative).

Make that Choice Again If You Have To

Even after you choose to stay, there will be parts of the job that you dislike. Those parts may even make up the majority of your time there! If you can notice those parts and notice the feelings of frustration/rage/anger/sadness/hopelessness/whatever that rise up in you, you can choose to make your choice again. Run through the motivations, and the reasons why those motivations are worth it. Remember that you are more than this job, that you chose it.

This is really hard (particularly when you're used to letting the negative emotions take over)! Stick with it. Remember that you will fail sometimes, and go home complaining and pissed off again. Over a long period of time, though, your choice will become the habit instead of the emotions.

Feel Your Feelings

When something comes up in your job that you hate, feel that. Let yourself feel whatever emotion comes over you. Don't try to hide it inside, or it will just blow out later. If you need to take a walk, or go to the restroom, or even put the emotion on an internal shelf to feel later (just be sure to take it back out!), do that. Letting things build up until they might explode is never a good idea. So let yourself feel. And, in the midst of your feelings, remember your choice. Remember why even these awful feelings are worth sticking it out.

Have Realistic Expectations

Don't expect yourself to ever love your job. Don't think that you should be loving it so something must be wrong. Instead, expect that you won't like it. Expect that the things that have frustrated you since the first day will still frustrate you now and will probably continue to do so as long as you stay at the job. If you expect that, the job will never sink below your expectations. However, at this point, you know that you are more than the job. You don't expect all of your satisfaction to come from that, because there are more areas in your life than just that.

Take Advantage of Any "Extras" the Job Offers

Some jobs suck, but have great perks. Right now, I work a job that I actually like (well, most of the time!). But, even if I didn't like it, I'd probably work here because it gets my husband huge discounts on his grad school tuition (I work at the university). Knowing that my working here helps us financially like that can make a big difference when I want to throw in the towel. Different jobs have different perks, but almost every job has at least one. My husband is a server at a local restaurant. He doesn't like it, but he gets to bring home any mistakes they make. Knowing that we'll get delicious pasta for lunch the next day often makes his shifts feel lighter and go faster. I know it sounds crazy, but taking advantage even of these small things makes staying easier.

Personalize Your Space

Put up pictures of the people who are your motivation for working. Decorate the walls of your cube with colorful material. Decorate your computer screen with sayings that inspire you. If your workplace won't allow any of those things, wear a locket with a special picture in it or carry one in your wallet. Put something small and special in your pocket so you can at least touch it whenever you want. These things help make your space, your computer, you person YOURS, and if they're yours then they don't belong to the horrible job that you hate. Once again, these things help you feel like you are more than your job, help you remember why you're really there, and help you choose to stay.

It's pretty clear that no one wants to stay in a job they hate. But if you choose to, whether because it satisfies some deeper motivation or because it's the best of a bad situation, these ideas should help you thrive there without feeling dead inside.

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Guest's picture

I intensely dislike my current job sometimes, particularly this week. I work with some frustratingly annoying individuals, I don't feel like I actually accomplish anything worthwhile, and I feel my team does not get the respect and attention that it deserves. This has been a miserable week, but reading your post makes me feel a little better because it puts my reasons for staying into perspective. Thanks Sarah!

Guest's picture

I am presently employed in the hospitality industry, the customers are fabulous, the staff are eveyone for themselve and you never get a thank you for anything, i have been with the company for 7 years and only just started at another site two months ago so i am learning in a new department, everyone expect you to know everything and anything goes wrong eveyone starts to point fingers, when my phone rings when iam at home i literally starts to tremble because i keep thinking what did i do wrong, what trouble am i in now, becaused that's all i keep getting you did this wrong you didn't do this or you hear them whispering at the back about you, i mention to the boss my situation but nothing i went trying to find a new site, then changed my mind because i told myself i can do this no one is going to get me out, but now i am thinking i made the worst mistake of my life, this is nothing close to what i was expecting when i went for the interview.

Sarah Winfrey's picture

I hope things get better, Ananda!

Will Chen's picture

This really makes a difference.  I like to glue little plastic dinosaurs on top of my monitor so I can pretend I'm Wash from Firefly.  =)

Guest's picture

You're my new favorite poster!

Sarah Winfrey's picture

I have lego knights and trees (and a horse!) on my monitor platform.  It was like a rite of passage: one of the guys brought over a bag a week or so into the job and had me make the characters I wanted.


Wash is cool.  Dead, but cool 

Guest's picture

What I like most about this post is that it advocates self-awareness. This is so key to success and happiness in life. In our podcast, Internet Business Mastery, we spend ample time talking about mindset-based principles. It's so important to have your mental awareness and understanding laid out in order to mind the proper motivation and passion in whatever you do.

Personally I decided that I would never be happy working for someone else. But as long as you can make a conscious choice (by knowing what you really want) you can be happy with whatever you decide is best for you.

Even if most of our listeners don't choose to use the internet to work for themselves, I would be happy just to know that they came to a better self-awareness of what they wanted.

Guest's picture

Sounds great mate,

How'd did you go transferring from working for others into a secure, self-employed role?

I can't work for others, and just can't tolerate underselling/ devaluing myself in a crap "Hospitality" job which one is supposed to do as a stepping stone to better things... (or to eat...)

I've done my fair share of tough jobs but to make a fluid change to working for myself - now that is proving hard - I'll check your podcast out.


Mitch, Australia

Guest's picture

Another way to thrive in a job that you hate is to remember to take your medication. You know, the kind that controls your psychosis.

I think this "chic" is a good writer. A tres chic writer.

Sarah Winfrey's picture

It sounds like you're in a really hard place.  Have you tried looking at what you're doing to contribute to the problem?

And to the polite, complimentary "Guest", thank you.

Guest's picture

Yes, Marcos, you sound exactly like me and believe me, your work place is identical to mine! I have tried to resign 5 in the past 3 years times and each time they beg me to stay, sometimes even giving me a payrise! The only think I have on my computer (besides work) is the amount of money I am making from turning up to this useless, pointless job every day. I refuse to wear the uniform and instead wear my own trendy clothes. I hate my boss and yeah, the office chicks are getting fatter from the chocolate I refuse to eat! I'll trade you jobs any day.

Guest's picture

I hated my job until a month ago. I have been a recruiter for almost 5 years and hated every day of it. I had to stay in this function because the money was good and had just got married and could not afford to move (was really scared if I had skills to move to another job). I tried learning new skills to move onto a different job, but nothing seemed to work for a long time, all this while the money just kept getting better though. But I still hated my job, I wanted to do something where I did not have to talk to people day in and day out. Finally I decided I HAD to do something about it. The opportunity came when my current company ( I changed 3 companies in 5 years )was bought over and there was a need to plot the company's future and there was no one to analyse all the data that was lying around in different systems. I researched this information, graphed it, and made a presentation to the powers in office and lo and behold they saw what I had to say was very very important. And today I am working as an Analyst and I just love my job.
All the very best.

Guest's picture

I hate my job and I have the same mentality as you. Im going to try that especially talking to my boss thats my type of personality anyways. Thanks for the post.

Guest's picture

thank you for the great entry, sarah. these suggestions are really really excellent. i can already tell it will make a huge difference for me at my workplace. i can't say thank you enough!

Guest's picture

What you said makes SO much sense.
I'm having nearly the same problems.
I've been working in this hell hole for only nearly 2 years now and everyday all I experience is a stupid boss who have favorites among my co-workers, and co-workers who does nothing but whisper stupid gosip about me and try to make me look bad. So I avoid most of them and only talk to the ones I like and they call me anti-social and a big a-hole!
I do pretty much what you said and just don't bother with them.. I just focus on work. I mean, I just came there to work and earn cash and I have no interest in sinking myself low to idiots like them.

Guest's picture

Lay, I can so relate to your situation but the only problem is as positive as you can be it is still horrible to stay in that situation. I just want a job I can go in, have a reasonable day get on with the people I work with and come home, when you have to start playing mind games with people, ignoring them, dealing with them in a certain way it all just gets you down even more, I know it did me.

One place I worked had a lot of the issues you rasied I tried my hardest to think positive and put myself in control and yes it did help a lot but I found the place was getting me so down I was having to go over all my positive thoughts, choices and motivations on a daily basis, my journey there and back home was purey just going over and over these things and that in itself got me down!

The advice given though is excellent but there comes a point where even with this self awareness and positive thought soemtimes all you can do is just leave to make things truely better.

Guest's picture

Hey, I have to say I am really HATING my job just now. I came online to find some inspiration (or similar) either to leave or stay and most of the above has given me back some sense of relief I am not the only person who can't stand what they have to do 40 hours a week in order to pay the rent and eat. I can't afford to give up my job but, as I said, I'm really disliking it just now. Thanks in particular to Marcos. A lot of what you say I can relate to.

Guest's picture

Regretfully I have a loathsome job. Actually, correction - my job is quite decent, it is the BOSS that is loathsome.

Think I am simply complaining? How about a fact that I just love sharing - his 3 daughters from his first marriage have DISOWNED him, they hate him so much. They refuse to talk to him - at least one has stated they wish he would simply die off.

He is a thoroughly unlikable individual - narcissistic and obsessive-compulsive, a truly ugly combination of character traits.

At "least" he knows that he is obsessive-compulsive...

Sometimes no matter what we do we have "miserable" jobs; thinking about the "better" parts of the job does not help. And since he is co-owner of the place, there is nobody "higher" to go to (because his business partner hates him, as well).

I am looking for a new job but simply must keep this one to make ends meet.

I wish these "self-help" articles would target the 'lost cause' situations as well as they do the "it isn't TOO bad" situations.

Guest's picture

This is the only piece I've read that acknowledges sometimes you're just stuck and have to make the best of it. Sometimes these feelings can dig you in deeper - that's the tragic thing that's happening to me currently. But, this piece is forgiving. It doesn't just shout at the person - "Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps and find your passion!" Thnaks again.

Guest's picture

Ah, very timely advice. I'm ticked off at my job every day and feeling really down about it. I like my actual job duties very much and my coworkers are great, but I'm regularly angered and offended by the attitude of management. I live in a Dilbert cartoon every day.

When I took this job, I knew the place was a little screwy, but I needed a full-time, regular paying job and I got it. My career counselor said to put a note in my cube and one in my car saying - this is just a paycheck. It would remind me why I'm there. I also remind myself about the many things I like. Also, I keep an amusing book in my desk and when I'm feeling upset, I pull it out and read it to regain a lighter mood.

It's important to consider the negative effects of being miserable. Misery can make you feel worthless. It leads to depression and illness. If you hate your job, you need to continue looking for a better position and not allow yourself to be captured by money. This is your life - you won't be getting this time back later. Do what you need to do - but keep looking.

Guest's picture

Your article is excellent, Sarah. Having perspective and keeping it is hard when you are desperately unhappy in a job, or in life. I've had a job for almost 2 years that I intensely dislike, ok, I hate it!! It's paying my rent, keeping my family clothed and fed and I have fantastic insurance. I am trying my best to focus on what I DO like about it, but it's so hard. I have yet another meeting on Monday with my boss about yet another issue. I have NEVER , in the almost 30 years I've been working, gotten in so much trouble at 1 job!! I usually like my supervisor and my boss, but when I get called into my manager's office, all I can do is drag my feet on my walk over, feeling like there's a bull's-eye painted on my back that everyone can see!! I have a job I hate b/c I screwed up a wonderful career by making very poor decisions and by not thinking of the consequences of some of my behavior. I have a chance to get back into the field that I love and that I believe is the best work I could be doing and I won't screw it up if given another chance. No pearls of wisdom from me today, just work smart and find the career/profession that excites and energizes you and get a job that allows you to use your creative ptotential! Good luck to us all!!

Guest's picture

I am so disinterested in my job, staying for the money and city my employer is situated in. I hate my job. the work itself is not difficult or even that boring......but ooooh good lord are the people. Because i am in the field of science, these stupid people are always playing the "i am so right, you are sooo wrong game". I swear they get high from being write and asuming that they know more or know best. That their ideas are the greatest and when you suggest something they shoot you down like a terrorist plane!
I have come to ignore the people at work, make my tea have my smoke outside and be my own idividual.
Macros has the best ideas

Guest's picture

The company I worked for 22 years went through a reorganization 2 years ago, I was unfortunately sent back to the same department with the same director I left 10 years earlier. My director is a overweight miserable woman who has serious control issues and who does not any people manage skills. And my director is grooming her assistant to be just like her. She has to micromanage everything that goes on in that office. In this day and age of electronic technology, our deparment is only one not allowed to have email, cell phones, internet or voice mail. My director, however, has all those items. She decides what emails we should see by writing our names on the printed copy and circulating it around the office and then having it returned to her filing. INSANE??? I would think so. Our outside vendors are shock when we tell them we don't have email. The people in my office are idoits. There people in my office who run a tell the director everything goes in the office as if somehow the extra brownie will add up to a free vacation.

I also no privacy, my desk faces the secretary's desk (office snitch) with no partition. That was done to monitor my conversation and activity. I have tried to get out of the department in the past but the human resource director is good friends with my director.

Need advice!!!


Guest's picture

My husband and I work for top companies in the world, and we absolutely hate it. The jobs we applied for are not the jobs we have been given. My supervisor is a 12yr old moron who thinks he's right and has the best ideas, totally clueless that the rest of the department hates him because he has manageritis. I've told him off countless times and he doesn't get it. My husband works in IT and somehow got stuck planning furniture moves. It's so draining to come home everyday exhausted from the sagas at work. Where's the part on how to think positive and attract the job you want? I must admit, I'm not a self help guru, but I read The Secret. Helps until I get to work. Have thought about throwing it at my boss, but wouldn't really give me that positive thinking over time. It has some good points too, and actually, we were able to sell our house in 4 days and in this market...maybe time to read it again and chant. I want the manual on how to outwit, outlast management. Where's that book?!!!

Guest's picture

this column lost all credibility when you said you work at a job you like.

Guest's picture

:) wow it is a relief to see that it is not me in the wrod that is having such problems at work, my boss is simply psycho , jelous , she keeps the informatin for her self so that no one knows what she knows ,,, really it is very depressing to have her ,, do not know if this has some thing to do with the fact she does not have kids...but really I have had it and I am only there as i can bare to have no money now ?????just praying that it will end soon

Guest's picture

Working with a hillbilly obesed boss. Who's given us an inservice on eatting healthy (jokes). Makes the ultimate crude and vulgar jokes/passes at me. Verbally abusive at times/opts for the rudest way possible to say things. He's just a very uncomfortable being to be around probably could of reported this to HR but I wussed out. Also there is some stupid employee's I work with who are just mean spirited and loud to everyone. I hate confrontation.. ughh.. but geez one of these days I will take Marco's advice.. Get out of my face. you have work to do! Just thinking of saying this is soo sweet.

Guest's picture
I Hate Whiners

"...I don't feel like I actually accomplish anything worthwhile, and I feel my team does not get the respect and attention that it deserves."

LOL, so how much respect and attention does "not accomplishing anything worthwhile" deserve?

Guest's picture

Hi, i've had a pretty hard time at job for the past few months and I just came across your article. Thanks, it helped me realize I am worth more than this job in itself, and to remember the reason why I got it made me realize that it is the best of the bad choices for now.
However, I realized that in a few months, I'll be looking for something else, once my probation period in this company will be finished. I will have the opportunity to choose something I really like this time.
Thanks again you made my day.

Guest's picture

You people need to quit. Some of you complaining about jobs and you actually work in a humane environment....putting up legos and plastic dinosaurs on your
you know what I do for a living? I work in a blast furnace.
Need I say would you like to get burned all the time, spend hours lifting heavy bricks in the snow.....swinging sledgehammers standing next to a fiery hot people need to be greatful. I could only wish I had a MONITOR.....I could only pray for a job where I sit in a cubicle....working in a blast furnace is like being in a giant fireplace. Many of you aren't greatful for what you got and you need to stop . I bust for 8-12 hours a day. I got no personal days, no sick days, and I work outside on uneven terrain, shoveling heavy coke breeze in extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, with loud noisy cranes blasting their horns over my head all day and guys drenched in oil all over their tyvex suits from cleaning up tons of tar and grease. I do backbreaking work. Those of you complaining, you need to grow the hell up.

Guest's picture

thanks for your comments. thank you for doing actual work.

if it helps, andrew carnegie started out working in a blast furnace when he decided he would be a leader in the steel industry instead of working in someone else's "acres of diamonds".

Guest's picture

Sallied just out of curiosity what country do you work in that doesn't have sick leave???

I've done both heavy labour intensive work and now I "sit in front of a monitor". This shouldn't be a competition about whose got the worst job and therefore the right to complain about it. People who sit in front of monitors working in jobs that they can't stand or are bored of can suffer mentally from burnout which could in some cases be worse than injuries sustained in labouring work. I personally felt I achieved more in my labouring work than what I been doing lately and definitely appreciated that Friday evening beer a hell of lot more after a hard days labouring.

I think the best thing to do if you want to stay in a job you find boring is to enjoy things outside work. take up a hobby or go for some night classes doing something you enjoy. I agree with Sarah's advice to remember your motivations for working there, if you have none look for a new job.

Guest's picture

I work in the United States pal. The good ole U.S. of A.....

Guest's picture

Yeah that's great! Now can we maybe get a man's point of view on how to survive a job that sucks? I don't care about having to 'Feel' my feelings. I want real strategy from a MAN! You know, the people having do deal with crappy jobs and whining families since the begining of TIME! If you tell a woman she has to work on the weekend and suddenly she starts crying...well that's to be expected. What if a man did that? It would be followed by his boss saying, "Hey dude, uh...don't bother coming in on Monday, I don't think we need you anymore." How about this, if your job sucks...just kill everybody!

Guest's picture
Vanesa Ferreras

Hi, Sarah!I'm really enjoy reading your blog. I think it's the first time I've time to do it. I have been fired from my job. I really liked,I loved it. I hated my boss, but I think this is an intrinsic event in a work-relation.I usually went to work, especially on Monday,nervous and scared. JUST STRESS!But in any case, I loved my job, all things I was making, designing or just thinking. I think that the way of working without any gap,it's just an illusion, an utopia. We're persons working with another persons, your boss, can't be your friend, like when you were a child your mother could be only your mother... Now I see it so simple. Work is just the way to earn money for spending it in your real life, the life that you choose, where the friends you like are waiting for you.

Guest's picture

I' ve read your comments and it was helpful for me to know what do people feel when they hate their job. Becoase my exam theme is a job you hate:))

Guest's picture

i've just spent over an hour reading the article and all your comments (while having to do work in between, of course). i can't believe so many people hate their jobs--me included. every day, i wake up wanting to just quit and walk away. but like most of you, i hesitate because i need the money. i come to work every day feeling like a prisoner to my paycheck.

i used to love my job. in fact, i've given up a lot of opportunities to work on what i am working on now, because the cause is a good one. but i feel like the kind of work i am now doing has just killed all of my brain cells as well as my enthusiasm. i feel like i am in a room full of lemmings, pursuing mindless tasks to mindlessly follow a mindless pursuit. i am exhausted arguing to do things differently.

as per Sarah's article, every day, i try to remember why i wanted to do this work in the first place, to keep me motivated. the cause remains to be good, but the frustration is too much and no longer feels worth it.

so why am i still here?

it's because i used to think this was the best job in the world, and i'm still miserable. so how could i possibly be happy doing something else?

Guest's picture

thank you for this insightful - and empowering - article!

Guest's picture

Hi Sarah,

I'm three months into a job and although it is premature to say it, I do hate it intensely. Your article made me feel a lot better about the whole thing, thank you so much.


Guest's picture

This article seemed to open my mind slightly. I'm still quite confused about my situation right now though.

I work for two places full time monday thru friday for the state as a temp call center employee, and a retail job part time. Ive worked for the retail company for 5 years and the state job for 10 months. I hate the state job, i hate people screaming at me over the phone. I really dislike the constant calls, same old same old thing day in day out. The only thing i love is that every other weekend i get to work at the retail job and get respect from customers and coworkers. I can always go back and work retail all week but the pay would be about 1/2 of what i make at the state with no heath benefits. Thats really the only reason i'm there. The job is temp so any day could be my last. Ive been in so much stress the last few months that i have had extreme migraines and have had to leave work because its so stressful. I'm really at a fork in my life with my jobs and i'm so confused. Any suggestions ?

A quote that has been in my mind lately was in a James Patterson book, i'm still young and i know work is always going to be there just have to work for it and this quote really makes me think about my priorities and what i want from life.

"Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity, and you are keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls, family, health, friends and integrity, are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered. And once you truly understand the lesson of the five balls, you will have the beginnings of balance in your life”

Guest's picture

I am employed as a cashier at some supermarket for rich people. |:
It's horrible. I feel like I work ten hour days when I have to go to work right after finishing school and I have to stand in that one place hours on end, and usually only get one 15 minutes break ever few hours.

I NEED this job, because I'm trying to save up for an apartment so I can move out this summer. I get paid a little over minimum wage which is nice, I guess.

Anyways, reading this gave me two feelings:

One: Frustrated.
It makes me pissed off because stuff like this can't really help. "Take a walk when you need one". I'm not allowed to unless I'm on a break. "Feel your feelings". I'm not allowed to because if I'm getting yelled at by a customer for making a mistake if I yell back there is a 86.2% chance I'll get fired.

Two: A bit settled.
This sort of did hit me with reality, and make me feel a bit better knowing that people do have jobs they hate like me. So, I guess it's kind of nice to know other people deal with this. The first half of this was really talking about "Why you're there" and all. As long as I keep reminding myself it's okay, and that I'll only be there another half a year I guess it doesn't seem as bad.

Guest's picture

And if there aren't many perks at your job, but virtually no other jobs to apply to that pay as much (and I'm not talking much--I'm living paycheck-to-paycheck), I guess I gotta just keep reminding myself that at least it's paying the rent and for groceries, eh? I do try. I remind myself of that quite often, but it's becoming harder and harder to not give in to perpetual aggravation. I have 3 bosses (and there are 5 people, including myself, where I work). One is loud and seems to have no manners (burping, farting, talking to himself, hocking up snot, playing loud music). The Director acts like I'm not getting enough done even when I have a lot to do--and am producing tangible results.
The bosses have one set of rules for themselves but another for me--they can work from home, take 2-hour lunches, make personal calls/emails, during the work day and write off vacation days as "work at home" so they get paid for them and don't have to claim that they took it as a vacation day. However, they also vociferously state that they are too busy to even get done all they need to do and say they can't take on any new projects--even though the company is hurting. As for me, well, I am not afforded any of the above benefits and am even reprimanded if I take a 10 minute break. They don't notice that some days I work through my 30-minute lunch break even though I don't get paid for it. I can't afford the company health insurance and they won't look into cheaper options--so I can't afford health care. There is no 401K offered. We do get 7 paid holidays per year (federal ones), 10 days of vacation after we work for a year and 3 personal days (1 for every 4 months of work). There are no paid sick days.
Years ago I worked in a much better paying job that had a 401K, full health care benefits, 10 days of paid vacation, about 10 paid holidays and up to 10 paid personal/sick days. I kept it for nearly 3 years even though I had a supervisor who liked to trap me in my office (by standing in the doorway and not letting me try to politely walk past him) while he screamed at me, red-faced and shaking, because he was scared I was trying to steal his job. Never thought I'd look back on that job fondly. Oh well.

Guest's picture

you can dream of your perfect job. you can begin to search for your perfect job. you can search during times you are not working, i.e. at night.

your perfect job is where you are doing something you would do without pay, and getting paid well for it, because the work contributes more to your client than you are geting paid.

you can form associations which will give you knowledge and contacts for your perfect job. you can create your perfect job by associating with those whom you can help.

this mental reaching out, followed by actual reaching out, will give you hope to get you through your present job.

also, by deciding to excel at the present job you hate, you are the winner when you quit.

Guest's picture

I have hated all my jobs and in many cases, I am in a worse off situation than a lot of people due to the fact that I dropped out of college not long after starting it so I don't even have an Associates degree let alone a Bachelor's. And I don't even have youth on my side (I'm 35), nor a lot of dense, solid work experience. There are lots of gaps in my employment and I have almost nothing to show for it when it comes to declaring my "skills." When it comes down to it, I have done really nothing but data entry. Even if I were to go back to school, I can only manage one online class per semester and at that rate, I am on a 4-50 year plan. (Unless I decide not to have children at all, and time is running out). For the record, I don't even have a boyfriend so this is all a moot point but I cannot fathom being single for the rest of my life and only going to work and less than half-time school isn't how I want to spend my life. I'd rather jump off a cliff than be resigned to being single and being in a miserable job merely to survive. I never, ever had the desire or motivation to decorate my cubicle because it just isn't enough to make any difference in 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

The only miracle that will save me and give me the freedom right now is winning the lottery. I can quit working in dead-end jobs that make me deathly miserable and focus instead on gaining skills and experience in things that interest me. It's hard to do that when I make barely enough to survive on as it is and yet there is no money left over for the things I want to pursue and they do cost money unfortunately. Taking a walk in a the park or a free concert of someone I don't even care about just won't cut it or other lame free activities that people keep suggesting.

Besides being so broke, I have almost no friends so there is not that much relief when Friday rolls around because I have no one to destress with. So it's one kind of hell for another, just a different day.

It sucks badly that being broke dictates your life and limits your options in life. This is why I don't believe in "action plans" that some people and websites have you develop. You can't take action to drastically change or improve your life when you are a slave to your job or lack the money to do anything about it outside of work. I have classes and lessons in various activities I really want to pursue but they're not free and even the "low cost" option might as well not be low cost because I can't afford even the affordable.

Anyway, it seems money really does make the world go around and if you don't have a good support system of family/friends/spouse, it makes a job you hate that much more intolerable.

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For me, no amount of decorating or personalizing or any of those things is going to do much for me. I merely tolerate my job for the paycheck and I've come to terms that I will hate any job I can land because the only kinds of jobs I think I might actually enjoy are ones I lack the skills and experience in or just not cut out for it. I am attempting to go back to school parttime, but I'm still years and years away from ever achieving the level of skills I need to land the kind of job I would actually like. And to be truthful, I wouldn't even work if I didn't have to. I have plenty of other things to occupy my time so I don't care if someone calls me lazy because I don't work. I feel severely depressed thinking this is my lot in life and anything short of winnng the lottery or landing a rich husband is going to save me from this daily drudgery. If I had some talent or business diea, I would try to explore that but I lack both.

Guest's picture

I actually googled "how to survive your job" while i was having my lunch break and found these amazing article.
I really hope some of this could help me go through my situation.
At least it made me smile.

Thanks for that.

Guest's picture

Thank you for this article/pep talk/lifeline to sanity. Truly your advice is the best I've read on this subject.

Guest's picture

Wow I feel like everyone is choosing to be miserable. If you don't like your job, then leave. Life is too short to hate what you do.

Guest's picture

They're probably choosing to feed their families, keep their bills up to date, have health insurance...

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Vince Lin

Tony Robbins mentioned a tool that helps with this. He called it the key to motivations chart. Basically, if our values are in conflict, we experience pain.

For example, if you value hierarchy is
1) freedom
2) wealth
3) stability
4) love

And you need to quit your job to save your marriage, you have a conflict of values that places love above all else. However you also value your freedom and stability (steady paycheck). Most of the time, people stay at jobs because of FEAR, and a conflict of values. Eventually though your conflict is a way of forcing upon you a level of pain that sort of forces you to change...

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Thank you for reminding me to remember why I am choosing to stay at the job I hate (for now). I need the money and have not found a better job, yet. I hate my job because I do a lot of tedious work and have no one to talk to because no one speaks English. This past week, I kept daydreaming of walking up to the boss and saying I quit! This article will help me avoid that situation, for now.

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Ive been a teacher for 6 years. I can't say I ever loved it but I did try to instill positive values in my kids and I tried my best to care for them as best I could. Yet, I never liked my job even though I got the opportunity to be a assistant coach, yearbooks designer, camp director as well as literature teacher. I always felt like I was going through the motions but I don't know what else I'd like to do with my life. Am I just supposed to stay put? (Btw, Even thought I go through the motions I will not let that interfere with my students and my responsibility to teach them.) Sbould I just suck it up? Any advice?

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Wow! amazing that this convo is still going on! I've been struggling with being content in my field of work for about 5 years. You have to do some soul searching, some things happen because they will help you in the end. Its easier said then done. I'm really having a hard time because I've been unemployed for a year and just started working again. I've realized that social work is just not field I wanna do, but I still wanna help people. So I've tried decorating my desk ( but its not how I want it because they told us it couldn't get too crazy :-(, little quotes posted on my desk, rewarding myself for getting through the day. Its hard to understand that you are not your job! Its so hard. I was so depressed when I lost my last job because i felt like i wasn't me anymore.

Even now with a job I still feel this my life? doing what I don't want to do? I try to spend my free time researching and trying new things but its hard because the demands of backed up bills, current bills, etc. you know adult, responsible bullshit. Its hard. Sarah, your article helped me deal with doing things I don't like to do which is very often. Thanks for your help!. Its in ongoing process......

Guest's picture

I have realized I hate the present job I have is awful. Sometimes, my boss makes me feel truly horrible. She knows I hate it there and have no option to leave. Therefore she gives me menial tasks but demand perfection. Any little thing like taking lunch 10 minutes later than I was supposed to gives the opportunity to lash out.

Anyway, the only reasons I stay. Well, the contract gives me access to free tuition to the university. So, I'm taking my Masters courses in Computer Science to be a developer. I get a good health insurance deal, with routine dental. That's pretty good. Also, I have a child, my wife doesn't work and I gotta feed her parents too.

So I really feel miserable about being stuck. My boss knows this too so she doesn't give me any work. God forbid I do something good and deserve respect or accolades.

Ironically, I use my hatred for this lady that's my boss as motivation. I've never studied harder or worked (side jobs) so arduously in my life! I think that's good for something.

Taking it day by day...

Guest's picture

I just read this and it was actually worth it, a very good article. I mean, it's good to know that at least I am not alone in the situation I am in, not being satisfied with my present job.

Anyway, For all the people that could read this article around these days, I hope you all best of luck. Don't get discouraged because of the shitty job you have right now. And I won't say endure it either, because I firmly believe that we should never endure life, but enjoy it instead. So, let's always try looking at the positive things of our situation. It WILL make things better. And, if that doesn't work, we can always quit. I mean, we are not chained to the freakin' desk, are we?

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Olivia Thorne

Hi there,

Like most of us here, I am very happy to have found this article- it is pretty much what I have doing lately at work.

I am a recent Master Graduate who has always dreamed about having a successful career and got as a first job, the job she could only dream about- Now I understand what they mean by "Pay attention to what you wish, you might get it"
The problem is I am on the wrong path. I never saw that the career I was dreaming for involved lot of management and strong organisation skills and less deep thinking, research, and intellectual challenges. So I'm stuck every day in organizing stuff, wrinting e-mails and indicating what has to be done and double checking that things happen- is so exhausting and boring and I hate it!

Despite all this, I try to find strengh in the morning to get up from bed and go to work I have decided to take my job as a challenge- see if I can make it work. I must say my boss hates me from all points of view, but I managed to turn this one too in another challenge- see if I can do a good job despite what my boss thinks of me.

And it has worked.

But lately I felt there's too much effort in this job...I didn't quit at the beginning when I saw what I was dealing with ( I got another job offer, but it was in a different area that the one I chosed to build my career in, and, on the long term, I did not saw any professional development opportunities) and kept focusing on my purpose of dealing with the challenges, but now I ask myself: Why am I still here? If I were to leave, I wouldn't be running because things are too hard, but because it is my choice.

The big question now- If I quit my job, where am I heading to? At another company withing this are would be the same.

The big problem for me is to change my job into something more abot thinking than organizing, but I don't know what.
I wish I were a doctor, or a laywer. Instead I studied Marketing and I work in a multinational company, as an assistant. While in colllege, I thought I would be doing strategies and product lunches. All i do is to organize and organize and double check...

I would appreciate any ides or suggestions. Thank you.


Guest's picture

Yes, it's all about how we need to feel in control of ourselves and of our lives. This article is so well thought-out and laid-out. You're very warm, but you're also very theoretical and philosophical.

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Frankie OS

I think this article is so timely. Thing is I actually left a job I wasn't so crazy about and ended up accepting an offer that is just not the place for me. It's way worse than my previous place of work and I really can't go back. In this places, there are so many constant changes, policies are overturned and I am called on at home as well. I have to tough it out for 3 more months until new management fully takes over and am afraid I will just not last that long. The end of the year seems like aeons away.

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It seems like everyone here has a decent job with good benefits, it's just not something you desire to do maybe because of the bosses or whatever else. I work on a sod farm: twelve to fifteen hour days, five days a week. When it's hot it's very hot and when it's cold, it's miserable. The owner is very nice, all the other bosses are real jerks. There's no room for advancement. I never really wanted to get into the business, I just had to find something to pay bills after I graduated from school. The pay is horrible and no benefits. When it rains, many times we're only able to work half of the day. I want to find something else desperately; I feel stuck and helpless. I apply to every job I can find, but I still can't find anything.

Guest's picture

My job is soooo boring, but this helps thanks!