Professional Development

How to get out of a rut when you hate your job

Written by Peter Jones

Hate your job? Or just feel stuck? Maybe the problem is you and maybe the problem is the job, but sometimes moving on right away is not an option. If this is your situation, there are ways to make walking through the door of the job you despise more bearable.

So even if you’re just sticking around and biding time until you find something more bearable, here are some strategies to find inspiration in the unlikeliest of places.

1. Fix what is in your control.

What’s the root of your actual problem/malaise? It is possible to find the root of your work blahs and correct it, thus making your job everything it ought to be? Ask yourself which tasks you like vs. hate, what things challenge you, and what things make you unbelievably bored. You can always try and find a way to shift the balance to the good stuff by taking a little initiative and making a good case to the powers that be.

2. Examine yourself to see if the problem lies within.

Just for a second, forget all the reasons your job is the problem and ask yourself what’s going on with you. Is this job/company/industry right for you? If not, can you move? How long would the process take? If the problem turns out to be your attitude and not your work life, then you can fix that with a lot less logistical mess.

3. Think about the big picture.

Zoom out and start thinking about your future. Ask yourself what you really want—a sort of mission statement for your career. Make yourself a declaration of purpose, along with rough sketch of where you want to be in 5 years. Then ask yourself how you can get there. Suck whatever marrow you can from the bone you have in front of you while planning how to get the next one. Find your breakthrough moment—when you realize what you want and how you are going to go about getting it.

4. Look at the other grass.

Think that career across the lawn looks greener and easier? Take some time to watch someone else work and see a) whether their life is actually much different, and (more importantly) b) whether you can infuse something you learn from watching them work into how your approach your own professional journey. You never know what sort of revolutionary methods you can come up with to jazz up your career.

5. Surround yourself with positive people.

Bond with colleagues who radiate positivity. When you’re stuck in a rut and hate your job, it can be really easy (and sometimes utterly necessary) to fall into the habit of spending all your time with other complaining coworkers. But if you try to spend some time with the people who aren’t quite so jaded, you might just find your own attitude improves by osmosis.

6. Do better.

Just because your job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be doesn’t mean that you can phone it in or casually fail at it. Keep improving and see if you can get that extra award or certification, or reach that higher bar in order to make a transition out of there much easier. Take online courses. Take your company up on professional development programming. Start trying super-hard and see what happens.

7. Practice self-care.

On bad days when you just can’t stand it anymore, don’t despair. Instead, take a quick walk outside to shake off your bad mood. Go take a coffee—or an ice cream—break somewhere in nature. Whatever you do, don’t let your whole mood and demeanor go sour because of small things. Shake it off and get back to the task at hand—improving your situation or finding a path out.

About the author

Peter Jones