Ending up in a job you hate isn’t uncommon. It happens to most of us at least once in life and the logical response is to find a new job that’s a better fit. But what do you do when you’re stuck in a job you hate and you can’t leave because no other job interests you? It’s easy to feel lost and hopeless in this situation, but all is not lost. Here’s how to take back control of your life if you hate your job but have no clear passion and no alternative job ideas.
What to do when you hate your job
When you don’t know what to do, stand still
This may sound patronising, but calming yourself down is the first vital step. No good decision can come from a place of panic. When you feel frantic, it’s harder to think rationally, which makes any situation seem much worse than it is.
If you feel really anxious or depressed about your current work situation, give yourself permission to emotionally detach from the situation for seven days.
For the next week, stop trawling job sites and instead, use that time to do something that makes you feel safe and happy. This could be socialising with friends, going back to your family home, rediscovering an old hobby you used to love, exercising, going for long walks or anything else.
The aim of doing this is to alleviate the overwhelm that’s clouding your thought process at present. And if you’re thinking ‘I haven’t got time to go for walks when my life is falling apart!’, remember that you are taking a break for one week only… for the sake of your sanity. You’ll be taking action once the week is over and you’re feeling calmer.
Identify what you hate about your job
If you feel stuck in a job you hate but lack alternative options, there are two factors at play.
Let’s start with the job you hate. The only way to find a solution to hating your job is to get clear about what it is about the job that upsets you.
It may feel like everything about it sucks, but in reality, that’s highly unlikely. Avoid catastrophising. Instead grab a piece of paper and start writing down the pros and cons of the job.
Once you understand exactly what you don’t like about your current situation, you will be better placed to decide your next move. It may not feel like it, but this job is actually helping you shape your future career. It’s giving you the vital information you need for your next career move because now you know exactly what you don’t want from a job.
If you’re struggling to write your list of pros and cons, take a look at our New Career or New Job Cheatsheet. It contains a quick quiz that will help you to pinpoint exactly why your job feels like such a nightmare.
Let go of the belief that you need to have a passion
The second factor at play is your absence of a clear passion.
We’ll let you into a secret: only a handful of people have a burning passion that feels like their life’s purpose. The majority of us have to figure it out as we go along.
Some people are lucky enough to discover a passion, but for many, that never happens because there is no single thing they are crazy about.
If you fall into the latter group, all is not lost. Instead, your goal should be to find or create a job or career that gives you the things you desire most from a job. This may be money (and lots of it), respect, success, prestige, intellectual challenge or something else – it varies from person to person.
You will need to ask yourself what you want from a job and what needs must be met by the job to give you the thing you want.
Once you understand what exactly it is about your job you hate and what you need from a job to feel satisfied, it’s time to take action. In most cases, one or more of the following five factors underlie a nightmare job.
If you hate your job, ask yourself if the problem is that:
- the company is a bad fit for you
- your boss is a nightmare
- you aren’t being challenged
- you’re struggling to handle your workload
- you’re in the wrong career field
Then take a look at our article on what to do when you hate your job for details on how to fix these five problems.
If after reading this article you feel that your problem is the company you’re currently working for, your boss or workload, rather than the career field you’re in, then here’s a plot twist: it really doesn’t matter if you have a passion.
Because by your own admission, you’re actually satisfied with your current career, you’re just frustrated by a situation that’s specific to your present job.
With this in mind, it makes the most sense to focus on remedying that situation instead of worrying about finding your passion.
Of course, it’s still very rounding to delve into your interests and attempt to discover more about what makes you tick and where your real interests lie, but the urgency to do this is less pressing if the actual work you’re doing isn’t making you miserable.
However, if you’ve identified that your misery stems from being in a career that’s a bad fit for you, then a different type of action is needed. You will need to work out exactly what it is you do want to do with your life and make a plan for doing it.
A good place to start is by reading this article on how to find your passion.
Then, take a look at our Career Clarity Guide for a more in-depth exploration of the best career field for you.
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