How to Excel at Work Even If You Hate Your Job
When that alarm clock goes off on Monday morning, many of us may groan about the start of another work week. There’s a difference between that near-universal feeling, however, and realizing, “I hate my job.” Your company’s policies and culture, your co-founder, co-workers or leadership responsibilities may be to blame for bad days. No matter the reason, hating your job can have a huge impact on your life.
The most frustrating part is no matter how much you hate your job, you may not be able to quit. Perhaps you started your own business and you’ve put so much effort into it, you can't stop now. Perhaps you make enough money to pay a large mortgage, rent or other bill. Maybe you need to support your family. So, you grin and bear it, but even when trying to hide your true feelings, a lack of motivation, lower productivity and negativity can show through.
So what do you, and how can you excel at work even if it's not your dream job? Here are a few tips.
Don’t focus on what you don’t like.
Thinking about how much you dislike your current job or company won’t make the situation any better. That negativity will only add to the reasons you don’t like the business or your boss or colleagues, and that could hurt everyone’s performance. Instead, keep your mind tuned into any aspects of the current position that are positive, even if it’s only the paycheck. Look for other pluses like a short commute, a nice colleague, paid vacation or other perks. Or perhaps you’re gaining skills and experience that will make you competitive at your next job. Remaining focused on any of these can help you perform better and give you a less gloomy outlook.
Find ways to add value.
Hating your job or company doesn’t mean you can’t generate your own accomplishments. If you’re bored with your daily tasks, try looking for new opportunities to gain or grow skills. Take the initiative and see where you can do more to finish a project within a deadline or below budget.
Or, if you notice a team member or colleague struggling with a task, this might be an opportunity to add value by helping them. Perhaps there’s a certain department you’d like to spend more time managing or that could use your skills and experience. Just be careful you’re not micromanaging the people on that team or adding too much to your workload.
Create and fulfill your own attainable goals.
When people hate their job, the best decision may be to establish their own set of goals to give their work life more purpose. Those goals may be specific to your company’s strategic initiatives, your responsibilities or your own professional or personal development.
Expand your skill set.
Work on your own professional development whether or not your company or employer is focused on letting that happen. Try taking an online course or certification class. If you find yourself hating not just your job, but also your field, consider courses to pivot into a side hustle or part-time job in a different industry. These courses can provide a diversion from thinking about how much you hate your job. They can also open the door to starting a different business or pursuing your next career opportunity.
Add to your life outside of work.
Being able to look forward to something outside of work can soften the blow of not liking your job. You’re more likely to feel positive in life if you are reflecting on a hobby, upcoming trip or social event. Find opportunities to see friends, catch a show, go to a museum or attend free community events in your area. Creating a positive life outside of work can also free you from getting caught up in toxic company culture, making it easier to tune out gossip and office politics.
Take pride in your work environment.
While you can’t control most things to make your job better, you may be able to take some control of your work space. Here, you can create an escape. Creating a clean, orderly desk or office can help clear your mind of any clutter and chaos that may be creating an additional layer of stress. If allowed, personalize your space with pictures of treasured people and places you love.
Look for new job.
The above recommendations may all help you excel at a job you hate, but they’re not a cure-all. If you work at a toxic compay and there’s no room for growth and no signs of organizational change, it’s time to start an outside search and eventually leave your current employer.
Try to see this experience as a positive one. Having hated your job, you’re now armed with new information. You already know what you despise, what you like and what compromises you can make. Maybe you want to keep a similar job, but at a company with a different culture. Or perhaps you’ve come to realize your field really isn’t for you and a new career is best. Either way, now is the time to explore next steps.
Research your field as you contemplate any career change. Use online job marketplaces and Google, professional social media networks, recruiters. Updating your resume, cover letter,and LinkedIn profile can all help you see the light at the end of the tunnel. The excitement over the prospect of change and planning your escape may just help you in your current role, too. You can walk into the office knowing you won’t be there forever and that you’re actively working to improve your life. You may find that energy pours into your current work, making you more productive.
Change your mindset.
Too often, we focus on what we don’t like and can’t change about our day jobs. Take a step back and know that your energy is better served proactively designing the life you want. That means taking phrases like “I hate my job” and reflecting on them instead of accepting them as fact. You can’t control everything, or sometimes even the smallest things, about your work situation. But you can replace thoughts with definitive action that helps you find new perspective, put a bad job behind you or even find a new position somewhere else.