How to handle a job you hate

I hate my job: Three steps to help you get through a miserable employment. ?

Bored woman at desk

We have all experienced the tragic cornering that occurs when we, for whatever reason, are momentarily compelled to keep a job we hate. Some may be luckier than others and find a way out of terrible employment, but at some point in our lives we will likely deal with the tricky task of adapting to the misery of a less-than-stellar job. The key to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel requires a reality check, some tough love and the desire to remove your job as the main identifier of your personal self. With these three ingredients, it’s safe to say that your lifeless cubicle may just brighten up faster than you think.

Step 1: Give yourself a reality check

The first step toward adapting to a job you hate requires a bit of a difficult, reflective check on your life. In order to learn to accept your current job for what it is, you have to first figure out how you ended up in such a terrible state. This step is not meant to be a moment of self-loathing or unnecessarily harsh self-critique. It focuses more analyzing your actual, current situation.

Some questions to ask yourself: What motived me to take this job? Was it the money, the location, the possibility for advancement, none of the above? These questions can help you see just where you started and where you are now. Then, write down the original hopes you had for your job and draw parallels to your reality.


  • I took this job because it was my first job out of college. ?  I now feel I have outgrown my position.
  • I took this job because the salary was great. ? I now feel the money isn’t worth it.

These basic sentences can help organize your thoughts and prevent venting sessions that are long-winded and unproductive — even if you are just talking to yourself. When you feel you have achieved clarity, move to Step 2.

Step 2: Tough love may just set you free

When you review your parallel statements, do you notice any patterns or perhaps there is one that particularly bothers you? For example, in the above hypothetical scenario the person feels they have outgrown their position. Has he or she really outgrown their job? “Outgrown” typically implies you have talked with your manager and, while you continue to receive absolutely stellar reviews, you just aren’t advancing and are no longer motivated. So if you still don’t find yourself on the receiving end of those perfect annual reviews, it just might be time to recognize that you haven’t really outgrown your job. Somewhere there is a mismatch between your perception and your employer’s impression of you.

Tough love helps you take your reality check from the first step and apply it toward your current situation in a more complex manner. The goal is to move from basic parallels of your initial expectations and current disappointments toward a greater awareness of outside perspectives. Once you have this awareness, you make a major leap toward accepting that the job you hate is not a black hole of despair.

Step 3: You are not your job

Your employer may like to think and tell you otherwise, but your job is only one part of your life and certainly a limited part of your personality. Even if you think you are consumed by your job, you are likely just forgetting about the other, truly awesome components you bring to the table.

When you identify strongly with your job and you simultaneously hate your job, depression and misery are likely to follow in great quantities. Try to distance yourself from work with healthy habits like exercise, friends and entertainment — hobbies that are both mindless and stimulating. For whatever reason — and by now you should know the reasons — you are, for the moment, employed in a job you hate. It is important to create distance between yourself and work so the downfalls of your employment don’t wreak havoc on your entire life.

Final thoughts

From here, you can accept the current situation and determine if leaving your job is a plan you want to commit to or you want to bask in the indefinite acceptance of keeping a job that’s not your first choice. Both options are fine as long as you truly come to terms with how you handle a job you hate.

More career advice

Determining if your career is what you’re meant to do
Nicole Lapin’s tips on being young and successful
Mom story: I’m CEO of a tech company


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