Ever heard the joke which runs So you hate your job? There's a support group for that. They're called Everyone and they meet at the bar.
Okay, it's a bit corny, but it does point at a cultural truth: we're often taught it's normal to hate our jobs. We might moan about work to colleagues and family, but we don't necessarily do anything to fix it.
Because we're convinced that hating our job is normal, we carry on each day, going through the motions, getting irritated by all the usual things, and going home feeling a bit fed up ... but never really thinking that we can change anything.
The truth is, there's plenty you can do to fix your job - and much of it is considerably less drastic than quitting. The first step is to stop expecting to dislike your work, and to start looking for ways to change the things which are driving you nuts.
Fixing the Little Things
Sometimes, a job that's sapping your energy can be fixed with just a few little tweaks.
Let's say it's a real drag for you to be at your desk by 8am. You have to force yourself out of bed every morning, you never get time for breakfast, you hate driving in rush-hour traffic, and you find it hard to concentrate when you get to work.
Instead of accepting this as an inevitable part of your job, look for ways to make it easier:
- If your workplace is at all open to flexi-time, can you start later (8.30am or 9am) and finish later?
- Could you work from home one day a week?
- Can you carpool with a friend, so that you don't have to drive every single day?
- How about taking public transport?
- Could you have breakfast at your desk - perhaps by keeping some fruit and granola bars, or similar, in the office?
- Would you have much more energy in the mornings if you set yourself a bedtime - and stuck to it?
With almost any little problem, there will be multiple ways to make it easier. So stop telling yourself that this is just how it is, and start looking for solutions. (If you're really stuck, post about your problem in the comments, and see if someone else can come up with an idea for you!)
Fixing Job-Related Things
Sometimes, what really bugs you at work is some particular aspect of your job. Maybe you have a routine task which always frustrates you. Or perhaps you've just ended up bored in your particular role. Maybe you're overwhelmed and struggling to get through all your work.
Again, it's very easy to just assume that this is how things are, and that you can't change it. But have you even tried? Let's say you're swamped with work. Could you:
- Delegate some tasks to other people in the office
- Take a time-management course to help you learn tips and tricks for coping with your workload
- Refuse to look at your email before 10am, so that you can focus on what really needs to be done
- Plan an after-work commitment, so that you leave the office on time for once
- Talk to your manager about your workload
- Ask for help from a colleague
Don't assume that other people in the office will necessarily realize that you're struggling. Often, busy people end up with more work on their desk because they're recognized as being efficient and hardworking. Yes, make sure that your efforts are being noticed - but don't let people use this as an excuse to expect more and more from you.
When Big Fixes Are Needed
Sometimes, no amount of tweaking is going to make your job better. Perhaps you went into a career which, in retrospect, is never going to make you happy. Maybe you have an irreconcilable personality difference with your manager. You might have simply lost all interest in a job which you once enjoyed. You may have experienced significant changes in your home life (such as marriage, a new baby, or illness) which mean that your job is no longer a comfortable fit for your lifestyle.
You may want to think about much larger steps like:
- Moving into a different career
- Asking for a transfer to a different department or area
- Starting your own business, perhaps based on a hobby or interest of yours
- Taking a sabbatical (an extended period of leave)
- Working from home for at least part of the week
Of course, all of these require serious consideration. But don't rule them out. You can find work which you enjoy and which uses your real talents, skills and interests.
Is there anything about your job which is driving you nuts? Share it with us in the comments ... and see if anyone has an idea for how you can fix it!
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