As Americans, we collectively spend about 13 years’ worth of time working, not including all the side-hustling and overtime we put in, according to an article from HuffPost. In comparison, we only spend about 328 days of life truly socializing with others, we spend 28 years’ worth of time sleeping, and over a decade’s worth of time staring at screens, according to the same study. But 13 years is enough time for several bad haircuts, cringe-worthy fashion trends, love to be found and lost, and our bodies to change without good reason — just like when we were actually 13 years old.
This is too much time to spend in a job — or worse, a career — you do not like. Job satisfaction refers to how content someone is with their job and it’s influenced by various situational factors, including the nature of your work, management, your work environment, and your personal life, according to a 2009 paper published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Somehow, though, with roughly 70 percent of people reportedly dissatisfied with their careers, according to Inc., hating your job has become “normal.”
While a lot of research about job dissatisfaction is quick to blame the individual for poor choices, hating your job can be far more complex, and sometimes simpler than choosing incorrectly. So, if you’re one of the 70 percent of people who hate their job, here are some things you can do to stop hating and start loving your work life.
1. Take an honest life inventory
Start with examining your relationships closely. If there is someone who is toxic in your life, do what you can to remove yourself from that situation. Sometimes, we take the stress and unhappiness we feel in one situation out on another — this is called displacement. Relationships are one of our key stressors, so taking an honest look at the quality of your relationships and making changes for happiness might help you experience greater satisfaction at work.
Also, many times when people think they are suffering from burnout with their job or career, they’re actually experiencing loneliness. This isn’t to say your burnout is fake — you could easily be experiencing burnout and loneliness — but if you don’t address the loneliness, then the burnout has no chance of improving, according to the Harvard Business Review.
Before you up and quit your job, take a look around and see if what you hate can be changed. Maybe your physical environment doesn’t work for you because there’s no natural light. Or perhaps you and your boss are incompatible, despite the fact you enjoy the type of work you’re doing. Think about whether shifts like switching to a different team, different office, a change in schedule, or cultivating better relationships with coworkers might help you find more satisfaction.
2. Set Some Goals
After you’ve taken an inventory to really determine the root of the issue, set some goals. The best goals are S.M.A.R.T. goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive. You may be telling yourself that you want to save your money working at this job you hate so that you can start your own business one day. That’s great, but do you already know exactly how much you need to save and how long that will take you? If not, get started so that you know when you have enough.
If, after taking your inventory, you realize that your job isn’t right for you and you need to find a new one, then start setting some job searching goals. It typically takes four to six months to find a new job, according to Monster. While you’re job searching, set daily and weekly goals to help yourself stay on track with applications and deadlines.
Lastly, if you think you’re in the wrong career, rather than just the wrong job, really spend some time digging into what it will take to make the shift you need. This might include going back to school, reaching out to people in your network, or even moving to a new city. Changing jobs can be a lot, but switching careers can be even more overwhelming (but also fulfilling), so take it one step at a time by setting goals and checking them off your list.
Not sure where to start with your goals? Start here.
3. Make a Realistic Exit Strategy
Quitting your job can be stressful, empowering, terrifying, and thrilling all at the same time. Make sure you ask yourself some questions before quitting so you can make sure that you’re prepared. Regardless, if you have made the choice to leave your job, you need to create a realistic exit strategy so as not to cause yourself any more unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
First, set a timeline for yourself that is informed by your goals. Then, figure out what you’re going to say when you do leave. It’s important not to burn any bridges when you quit, so having a clear communication plan will help. Lastly, understand that sometimes quitting does not always go as planned. Some employers may ask you to leave immediately, while others will want more than the typical two-weeks’ notice to help with transition. Be sure that you’re prepared for any alternatives.
Knowing that we spend so much of our time at work, hating your job can send negative shockwaves into all other areas of your life and cause you to have toxic habits too. There is nothing normal about hating your job, and it is entirely possible to have a career you love.