We all know what it's like to feel trapped at a job we hate. Every day is a struggle, from the time you get out of bed to the time you leave the office, and most of your time off is simply spent dreading what the next workday will bring. It's a negative situation, for both you and for your employer.
But before you turn in your two weeks' notice, it's important to understand exactly why you hate your job. First, it will give you an opportunity to analyze the situation and possibly change things for the better. Second, if you are unable to make any improvements, it will give you an idea of what to look for and what to avoid in your next job.
These seven motivations are some of the most common reasons cited by people who hate their jobs:
1. You Aren't Being Challenged. Challenges come in many forms. You probably have a responsibility you hate, or a client that constantly tries your patience, but those aren't fundamental challenges because they don't make you improve yourself in order to progress. No matter how "difficult" or "easy" your job is, if you don't meet adequate challenges on a regular basis, you're going to get bored. In an ideal job, you'll face slight challenges--tasks and initiatives that are slightly outside of your skillset and encourage you to reach new heights--almost every day. If you don't find yourself challenged, you'll feel bored and resentful, and you'll grow to hate your job entirely.
Make it better: Work with your supervisor or coworkers to find new ways to improve yourself. Start a new initiative in areas you aren't familiar with, or attend a class that helps you develop a new skill.
2. Your Pay and Benefits Are Unsatisfying. Unsatisfying pay makes you dread your daily responsibilities because you are painfully aware of the underwhelming reward for doing them. If, for instance, you know your paycheck will barely cover your bills, staying late to finish a major project will leave you feeling resentful toward your employer. Every worker in America would like to make more money, given the opportunity, but if you feel like you aren't being paid fairly, every day of work is an uphill battle.
Make it better: Sometimes, this concern is quickly and easily fixed. Pay is negotiable, and good employers will listen to your salary concerns even if they can't afford to give you a raise. Talk to your boss about why you feel underpaid, and what it would take to make you feel adequately compensated. Use objective measurements of your performance and industry statistics to demonstrate your value.
3. You Feel Unappreciated. Even if your pay is adequate, it's possible to feel unappreciated if your work goes unnoticed. If you go out of your way to improve your performance or exceed expectations, you should be acknowledged for those efforts. Your co-workers should be congratulating you for your accomplishments, and your supervisor should be rewarding you, verbally or tangibly, when you achieve something great. Workers thrive in environments where their achievements are met with acknowledgement, but if you find yourself unrecognized and unappreciated, it's easy to grow to hate your job.
Make it better: Have a direct conversation with your supervisor about the matter. Come to him or her with concrete examples of times when you have exceeded expectations and done something great for the company when you haven't been recognized. Don't complain about not being rewarded; instead, ask that future efforts be recognized.
4. You Feel Out of Sync With the Company. This one may seem vague, but there are several factors responsible for making you feel out of sync with your company. You could feel unaligned with your company's core values. You could feel out of place with the culture and personalities of your coworkers. You could have a strong distaste for the way your boss does things. The structure and balance of your team can have a major impact on your long-term satisfaction with the job, and sometimes those qualities are intangible.
Make it better: It's hard to change the core values of your company, but there are things you can change. Ask around to see if you can be transferred to a different team. If that's not possible, try and influence your group with some of your own personality traits and work preferences. If it's met with positive reception, you can improve your sync with the company. If it isn't, it's time to start looking for work elsewhere.
5. You Aren't Passionate About Your Work. Passion is what motivates people. To some extent, your job shouldn't feel like a job. Most people don't make money simply by doing what they love, but there should be characteristics about your job that make you happy and excited to work. If you can't think of any reason you would do your job other than receiving a paycheck, it's clear you've lost your passion (or you've never had it in the first place).
Make it better: Try to rediscover what attracted you to the job in the first place. Look at your responsibilities from a new angle, or find a new way to work that makes your job seem fresh. Alternatively, think about your true passions and how you can turn those into a new career.
6. You Can't Advance. Most people work to get ahead, starting at the bottom of the company and earning promotions with the intention of someday getting to the top. If you feel like you can't move forward or grow as a professional, you'll see your job as a dead end, and you'll begin to hate coming to work.
Make it better: If you can't get yourself any higher, try making a lateral move instead. Start developing peripheral skills or learning more about a different department. You'll add more skills to your skillset, increase your value as an employee, and refresh your perspective with a new position and new responsibilities.
7. You Think Somewhere Else Would Be Better. It's also entirely possible that you hate your job simply because you think another job would be better. It's a symptom of the "grass is always greener" mentality that leads people to be dissatisfied with an otherwise adequate situation. Of course, there could always be a better job with better pay, better co-workers, and a better set of responsibilities, but that isn't a good reason to hate what you currently have.
Make it better: Look at your job more positively. Instead of focusing on what elements of your job could be better, focus on what's already great about it. It's good to acknowledge where your job fails to meet your expectations, but don't let "what if's" and "could be's" compromise your opinion of a job that's fantastic overall.
Which of these reasons apply to you?
Don't subject yourself to a job you hate, even if you convince yourself that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Making yourself miserable isn't good for anybody; it obviously lowers your quality of life, it makes you less productive and therefore a liability for your company, and it makes your time off less relaxing. Instead of putting up with it, make a change: Either find a way to make your job more tolerable, or start looking for a better one.