Several years ago, I was quoted in a Rasmussen College article about what employees can do when they hate their jobs. We’ve all been there. When you’re in a job that you hate, it can take a toll on your physical and mental health, your relationships, and your overall quality of life. Yet when these areas are already imbalanced, they can make your work seem worse than it is.
Before you make an impulsive decision you might regret, try identifying the causes of your unhappiness and making a few small tweaks to change course. You can still quit, if you’ve determined that is best for you under your current circumstances.
The Importance of Knowing Your Values
One of the quickest ways to shift an experience at work or anywhere is to spend seven days listing ten things each day that you love about your job. It’s okay if you repeat some of the same benefits. This will help you identify what’s most important to you. Even if it’s simple things like gourmet coffee or the easy commute, there are likely a few things you feel good about. Otherwise, you’d already be gone. Discover what those things are, and you will get some insight into what you value most in your work and beyond.
Many of us take jobs without considering whether the employer’s values and ours are aligned. We adopt others’ views and assume the paths they took to fulfilling will be the best paths for us. We follow advice from parents and mentors who know us well, but who can never fully understand how we experience the world. It’s our responsibility to figure that out and work with it.
Once you know your values, you can start to look for jobs that align with them. For example, if you score high in the Supportive personality style on the DISC Assessment, you might want to look for a job where you can empower people to make great decisions for themselves. From administrative assistant or human resources associate to mediator or social worker, there are many opportunities to be of service.
If you value intellectual challenge and score high in the Compliant personality style, you might consider a work that requires critical thinking and continuous process improvement. From computer programmer or studio musician to accountant or lawyer, there is much to think through and improve. Your challenge will be in taking action before you have identified the values you think perfectly describe you.
What If Your Job Conflicts with Your Values?
If you’re in a job that doesn’t align with your values, remember that you’re not stuck. There is always something you can do to make your job more fulfilling.
Here are a few tips:
- Find ways to connect your work with your values. Even if your job doesn’t directly align with your values, there are probably ways to connect the two. For example, if you value personal relationships and like to socialize, you could ask to work on an event committee or promote a cause that you care about. You could become the informal greeter who invites newcomers to coffee or lunch.
- Set boundaries. Make sure you know what is required and expected of you at home and at work. Then, set aside time at least weekly to align your schedule to your commitments. Honor the times you set aside for each, and speak up when you’re struggling to do it all. Most of us need occasional support with this.
- Take care of yourself. If you’re not getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly, not much else in your life will work as well as you would like.
What If You Have a Difficult Boss?
Having a difficult boss can make a job even more difficult to love, but the employment relationship goes both ways. We don’t condone bad management, and we regularly work with employers to improve their leadership. However, we also work regularly with employees who can improve their performance. No one is going to be perfect all day every day, and no one should be viewed only as the worst things they’ve ever done.
If you’re dealing with a difficult boss, there are a few things that you can do:
- Try to understand your boss’s perspective. Your boss is just as human as you are, and they’re probably under a lot of pressure. Try to see things from their perspective, not just your own.
- Communicate with your boss. If you’re having a problem with your boss, they can’t do anything about it until they are informed. Be respectful and professional, but be clear about what the problem is and how it’s affecting your work.
- Seek help from a neutral third-party. If your employer doesn’t have a designated human resources representative, you can schedule a consultation with us to discuss your options. We often help employers and employees improve communications and create more peaceful and productive workplaces.
If you hate your job, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Many people find themselves in jobs that they don’t love. The good news is that there are things that you can do to make your job more fulfilling, even if it doesn’t perfectly align with your values.
Especially now, when the entire world is more connected than ever and jobs or freelancing opportunities can be created from your unique specifications, you might be less limited than you think.
Want more tips?
Master Your Employment Partnerships from Job Post to Termination