How to Cope with a Job You Hate

While everyone feels like they're in a rut sometimes or cringe at the thought of Mondays, sometimes that feeling can escalate and be much more pervasive. If you're having a few too many of those "I hate my job" days, you're not alone. But that doesn't mean that you should accept those feelings of dread that accompany even the thought of going to work. You don't have to work at a job you hate, and you probably don't even have to switch jobs to stop working at a job you hate. There are simple steps you can make you find greater satisfaction at your current job.

First, you can gain a better understanding of what's behind that "I hate my job" feeling. Different people find different things they hate about their jobs, but generally what people hate about work tends to be what contributes to job burnout:

  • Mismatch of Skills - If you are overqualified, you may feel bored. If the expectations of you are too high, you may feel overwhelmed. Either way, this can create significant stress.

  • Low Control - People need to feel that they have some control over their lives in general, and this certainly applies to jobs. If you feel you can't control what happens to you at your job, you will likely experience almost everything at work as being more stressful. Having even a small sense of control can really change how you feel.

  • High Pressure - Are there heavy consequences if you make a mistake? People often think that working long hours is the big contributor to burnout, but working under high -pressure circumstances really adds more stress!

  • Low Recognition - Are you recognized for your achievements? Are you adequately rewarded for your hard work? If not, it generally becomes difficult to stay motivated. We all need to feel that our work matters.

If you find that your job fits some of all of these criteria, or you have that 'I hate my job' feeling for other reasons, it may be understandably stressful to go to work. However, quitting may not be your best option--at least not right away. If you need the job, are concerned about finding a similar or better position, or can't quit for some other reason, don't despair. There are steps you can take to feel less stressed at work and start enjoying work more. Try the following:

  • Incorporate Your Strengths--In order to enjoy your job, you need to be challenged just the right amount--not too much, and not too little. Further still, it's best to be challenged in ways that lead to flow, in strengths at which you naturally excel.

  • Make Your Job Better--Along the lines of incorporating your skills into your current job, talk to your employer and see if you can 'build a better job for yourself by slightly altering the responsibilities you have. Take on new challenges that can help the company--things you naturally enjoy and do well at--and see if the areas that are overly stressful might be better managed by someone else who excels in that area.

  • Remember The Rewards--When things get difficult, remind yourself of why you're doing this in the first place, keep your eyes on the prize, and remember the rewards you find in your work. If you're having a difficult time, see if you can add a few extra rewards for yourself--give yourself a treat at the end of the day as a reward for hard work. This can be as simple as a nice bubble bath, a relaxing music-listening session, or an evening with friends.

  • Laugh About It!--Finding the humor in your situation can turn stressors into stress relievers--or at least it can rob them of their stress-inducing power!

  • Practice Stress Management--If you can relieve general stress, you'll likely feel less overwhelmed by specific stressors at your job.

  • Get Support--Be sure you have support in your life. See if you can organize a supportive network of co-workers to commiserate and congratulate each other in the trials and triumphs of the job. Or create a group among your friends outside of work. These groups can work wonders for one's mood! And if you feel overwhelmed and unable to cope, you can talk to a professional--you don't have to handle an overwhelming situation alone.

Article Written By: Elizabeth Scott, MS;