I was apprehensive about writing this, because it feels almost like something we shouldn’t talk about. It is a very common notion that we should power through and suck it up when we dislike our jobs. That is a very hard thing to do when it feels like it is destroying your soul.
Staying positive can be really challenging. I am a happy, upbeat person and I genuinely try so hard to see the good in everything. However, we all have bad days. Sometimes our rose tinted glasses get a bit fogged up. I am here to write that this is okay. You don’t need to be shiny and happy all of the time.
Jobs are often just a means to an end
Maybe you are a student like myself, who has to work full time to support themselves and pay your bills. You might have dreams and ambitions beyond your current job, but your job exists so that you can afford to put food on the table. It is a means to an end.
Perhaps you are a creative soul who wants to make art, music and literature, but you are not quite able to make a living from it yet so you need to work a job that you hate in order to survive. Or, maybe you are in the company you want to work for, but you feel like you are not progressing how you had hoped.
Change your outlook
Our current jobs can feel like a hindrance, as if they are preventing us from reaching the goals that we have. It can feel like the hours you spend at work are wasted time. I often think of how much time could be spent studying if i didn’t have to work. I would be able to get my degree faster and edge closer towards my dream of studying medicine.
The reality is that I don’t love my job. It is not what I am passionate about. Though, if I have discovered anything over the past few years, it is that I am yet to meet many people who are passionate about their current jobs. Many need a job simply as a stepping stone for another job or to pay bills.
This realisation is helping me to understand how to change my outlook on my current situation and see the benefits of my job.
It is okay if your current job is not your passion
How do we change our outlook? Understanding that it is okay to be in a job you are not passionate about can make a huge difference. Before you think I am a hopeless optimist, let me explain.
Everyone, at least once in their life, will work a job they hate. The idea that what we do for a living should be a passion is a big old lie. It keeps people in a vicious cycle of jumping jobs and feeling unhappy. It is perfectly acceptable if your job simply exists to provide you with money to live. The key is to focus on what the job does give you, rather than what you feel it is holding you back from.
Focus on what the job you hate may be teaching you
My job has nothing to do with medicine. I work in a prison within education. At first, I felt really sad, as if i was moving further away from my goals. However, it is teaching me resilience in difficult situations. I am learning how to cope when I feel terrified for my safety and how to deescalate very angry people. I am learning to laugh at the most challenging times and see something positive in truly horrific circumstances. These are skills which I can carry forward one day.
My job, fortunately, is enough to pay my bills and rent, with a little spare to save and spend. I do not earn much at all, but i live within my means. It has funded my Chemistry course and the laptop i use for my degree. In many ways, it is giving me the lifestyle i need to actually work towards my future goals.
Working in an office from the early hours of the morning, late in to the evening may feel like wasted time, but its not. I am earning money to survive. That is not wasted time. If i didn’t have this job, I wouldn’t be able to have any of the things i need to meet my end goal.
Recognise what comes from your own outlook versus what is a very unhealthy workplace
With all of what I just said, that does not mean you should stay in a situation that is damaging your mental health. Your own outlook on a situation is one way to analyse why you hate your job. If it is an issue stemming from your own mindset, not your workplace, this is something you can work on. However, if the issue is actually stemming from your place of work, that is an issue.
Your job should be a safe place. Your wellbeing should be looked after. If you have a crappy boss, horrible work colleagues and are totally underpaid and overworked, you need to get an exit plan together. You do not have to stay in a toxic situation. I know that leaving immediately may not be an option due to needing to pay your rent etc, but you can start taking steps to prepare to leave.
Start putting savings aside if you don’t already. Even if you can only put aside £1, that is £1 more you have saved. Keep your CV up to date and apply for other jobs daily. If your workplace has it, reach out to a wellbeing service or union for advice. Do not be afraid of taking temporary jobs as they often do lead to permanent positions, or provide you with new experience to work elsewhere. I have linked below some resources that you can turn to if you are in a toxic work environment:
- If your experiencing problems at work, click here for advice about your rights and what you can do.
- Free mental health support
- Take legal action if you are being treated unfairly at work by clicking here.
How to recognise if your unhappiness at work is based on your own outlook
It is a bitter pill to swallow when you find out that you are actually the problem. I mean everything I am about to say with the upmost kindness and genuine passion to help you feel better, but I want you to ask yourself these questions and statements and see if you relate. Be honest:
- All of your problems are someone else’s fault
- You are focused on the problem, not the solution
- You think you are too old to make a change
- Complaining about work is a daily occurrence
If you agreed with at least one of the statements above, it may be your own outlook making you unhappy. I can hand on heart say that I often find myself doing the above. However, I do have some solutions for you!
The power of positive thinking
Yep, we have heard it all before. Think positive and your life will change! Do I believe this? Yes! Do i think it is easy? Hell no. Becoming a positive person is incredibly hard. You have to work on it daily. It is a skill-set and an asset that doesn’t just happen overnight. Making the decision to be a positive person is, i think, one of the most difficult things to do.
To be a positive person, you have to believe that being positive is a choice. This can be the hardest step. It is so easy to blame your mindset on outside sources- relationships, people, destiny, parents. Even a mental health issue can be a scapegoat. For example, if you have anxiety, it is very easy to say “I have anxiety so I can’t do that”. With depression, it can be easy to say “I have depression, therefor I am an unhappy person.”
I am speaking as someone who has been diagnosed with both of the above and has gone through therapy and medication. Yes, if you have any mental health condition it is significantly more difficult to make change and you may need additional support through therapy and medication. But, if you continue to tell yourself you are a victim of your mental illness, that is exactly what you will remain.
I want to reinforce that I am not trying to say mental health can be fixed with positive thinking- it doesn’t work like that. All I am saying, in the most honest way I can, is that there is more you can do to help yourself if you suffer with a mental health issue.
Rid your life of negativity
If you want to be a positive person, you must rid yourself of negative influences. This is the first step I took that actually improved my mental health and outlook and it was really tough. The friends (even some family) I had were very toxic, so i made the decision to cut ties or very much distance myself. I didn’t make this decision lightly. Negativity attracts negativity and those i was surrounded by influenced my own outlook on a situation.
Ridding your life of negativity may help you to think more positively about your work situation. If you are surrounded by others who also constantly complain about work, you may start doing the same and this can make you think you hate your job when really you are finding reasons to complain subconsciously.
Keep your end goal in mind
When I am really struggling, hating my job and feeling sad, I try to reflect on my end goal. I have about three years to until i finish my 6 year long part time degree, by which time i plan to study medicine or go away to university to study a Masters full time. One day, I wont be in this situation anymore.
Without my job, I couldn’t save the money i need to do any of this. For that, I am grateful and it motivates me to work harder both in my job and in my studies. What is your end goal? What are you working towards?
If you feel stuck in a situation, but equally are not working towards anything, then maybe this is something you can use to help get you through. If you have a dream job, maybe you could study some courses part time to help you get there? I recommend The Open University as it is open to all regardless of qualifications and can be funded using a part time tuition fee loan. You can read about what is is like studying with the Open University by clicking the following link:
If you are trying to move up in a company, make it known. Talk to your boss about your goals and ask for opportunities and advice to help reach these goals. If you don’t ask, you wont receive. If you ask and no help or advice is provided, you are in the wrong workplace (re-read my section about a toxic workplace!)
What if you do not know what job you want or what to do with your life?
You might not even know what you want to do as a job and this can be a common underlying reason why someone hates their job and overall feels unhappy in life. This is where you can focus on things outside of work to improve your happiness. Exercise and nutrition are powerful and if anyone is feeling particularly depressed, I will always ask if they are exercising regularly and eating healthily. Focusing on improving your physical health will improve your mental health.
If you have any hobbies outside of work that your current job is funding, relish in them! Enjoy them! Due to your job, you are able to go to a class you enjoy or buy the supplies you need. Your job doesn’t have to be your passion, but if it pays for your passion? You are doing well.
Maybe you just want to make lots of money? No hate, I get that. Think of all the different ways you can make money. You don’t need to do this solely through a 9-5 job. Channel your entrepreneurial spirit and think of ways to create additional income stream. You can make and sell things, offer services you are good at such as copy writing or graphic design for a fee, you could even start a blog like myself!
Love Beth xox