There are few feelings quite as bad as being trapped in a job you hate. It’s a soul-sucking experience that weighs on your life like an anchor. It’s also a guilty feeling, because another part of you is glad to have a job, any job, when so many are without work and underemployed. So you keep reminding yourself what you’re working for, every time you reach for the handle on that door to start another day.
Being stuck in a bad job doesn’t stop at 5 pm. It follows you home, hangs over family time like a cloud, and keeps you awake at night — only to have the alarm clock jolt you mercilessly out of the little bit of peace you do get, and then you get to start the whole dysfunctional cycle all over again. You wake up with that feeling in the pit of your stomach, and push yourself through the mechanical steps to make it through another day.
Life is too short to be stuck in a job you hate, wasting precious time you can never get back. Many times bad jobs can be fixed to at least make them tolerable. Here are the top five reasons people hate their jobs, as outlined in a discussion thread at Quora.com — and what you can do to make things less terrible.
You Hate Your Boss
One of the funny things I learned working in management was that almost all executives and managers think their employees love them. Many would be surprised to find out just how the people who work for them really feel and, even if they do find out, they find a way to rationalize away the negative information. Having a boss that’s interested in you and your career advancement is the number one reason people stick with a job.
The cure: This is a tough one because you either need to find a new boss within the same company, or come up with a plan for finding a new job. Like Ron White says, you can’t fix stupid; your only option is moving.
You’re Mismatched With Your Career Choice
There’s so much pressure for young people to pick their career field at an age they have very little experience with life or the working world. It’s no surprise then that many will work in their chosen career path a few years only to discover it’s just not a good fit.
The cure: The good news is this is one of the easier problems to fix as an adult. Map out a plan to a career you’d like better, and start going to school at night or volunteering during your free time to gain the experience you need. Even if it takes you three years, you’ll be three years older regardless of what you do in that time.
Your Job Is Not Meaningful
The best-paying day job I ever had was also the least meaningful. I did endless maintenance on software applications I built for a branch of the US military. The new application development process had been taken over by an outside contracting company, which left me in a high-paying but ultimately meaningless job.
The cure: So many people overlook the possibility of creating their own job within a company, one that’s a better fit for their personality and aptitude. I couldn’t do that in my meaningless job, so I used the large salary to start preparing for a career change.
Your Job Lacks Predictability
Regular layoffs, periodic contract scares, and budget cuts are all ways companies rob careers of stability and predictability. Many times the executives are laughing at you behind closed doors, because they think fear and uncertainty drive people to perform. That’s a sign of weak management — and you should be making plans to leave that company far behind.
The cure: The only way to be layoff proof is to own the company. Come up with a three year plan for starting your own business; or look for a career field with more stability, which is becoming more difficult to find these days.
No Career Advancement
There’s nothing quite as depressing as a dead end job, even if it pays a lot. The certain knowledge that this is all you’ll ever be at a company is its own special brand of gloom.
The cure: In the military the saying is “up or out,” meaning you have to make the next step in rank or move on to a different career field. The same is true for a dead end job; if you can’t move up then think about moving on.
I realize that the cure for most of these big job satisfaction killers is finding a new job or career field, but don’t overlook the possibility of building a better job for yourself inside the company you’re with now. If you have a plan for how to pay for that position, it’s at least worth a try. If plan B is finding a new job, then at least you tried to fix your old job — and that will look really good in your next job interview. Instead of complaining about your old job, you can cast it in the positive light that you made every effort to make things a better fit and that you’re aware of the realities of business. Those are all points in your favor with new employers.