How to Deal with a Job You Hate (& Tips for Escaping It)

I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

— Steve Jobs

written by Tiffany Walking Eagle | 7-minute read

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Do you wake up every day with that familiar ache of dread looming over your head knowing you have to go to work? Do you lay awake at night already stressing about the next day at your awful job? Are you watching every minute crawl past on the clock until you get to go home? I know the feeling. Whether you have a psycho boss, are incredibly overworked, or simply are bored to death at work, it's completely understandable why you hate your job. 

If you can't ditch your life-sucking occupation, there are ways to improve your situation. This post is meant to give you actionable advice to help you hate your job/life a little less while providing a touch of tough love to hopefully push you toward pursuing a fulfilling career you actually enjoy

Figure out what's really bothering you. 

Ask yourself honestly what it is about your job that you hate so much. Take the time to really think about it and identify the issues. Is your boss ridiculous and micromanaging? Are your co-workers lazy and you have to pick up the slack? Are your current projects tedious or gag-inducing? Whatever the problem is, pinpoint it and figure out if there's anything you can do to change it.

Have a candid conversation with your boss or someone you can trust. It will probably be uncomfortable, but it could improve your situation. Stop picking up the slack for your co-workers and, if you can, talk to them about how they need to pull their weight. If there's anything you can do to make your job environment better, do it, even if confrontation is out of your comfort zone.

Make time for your hobbies when you're not working.

Don't take your horrible job home with you. If your work life is sucks, at least make a calculated effort to make sure you have fun on your days off and you enjoy your down time. Create a defined line between your work and home life so you can effectively unwind and still enjoy life. 

Work hard anyway. 

Even if you hate your job, don't lash out by being lazy. Still try to do the best you can because you never know who is watching! Hating your job plus doing the bare minimum won't set you up for success in the future. 

Take every opportunity to develop more skills. 

If your boss offers you an opportunity to help out in the marketing department when you've always worked in accounting, take it. If a colleague in a different department is willing to teach you about their field in exchange for your help, do it. Basically, if you hate what you're doing now, and you can help out in other areas of your company that may interest you, take advantage of this opportunity to add experience to your resume and be armed with skills that will benefit your career in the long run. 

Let me give you an example of someone I know who did this. Caitlin worked as a receptionist at a court reporting firm, but she realized she had a knack for catching errors in court reporters' work. She earned the nickname "Eagle Eyes" and her colleagues started asking her to proofread their transcripts, so she turned proofreading into a small side businesses. She eventually left her job at the firm but kept her side businesses going and was able to earn a full-time living from her new skill. (Read more about Caitlin here.)

Here's the moral of the story: the more skills you have, the more in demand you will be as a worker. An immediate benefit of gaining new skills at work could be hating your job a little less because you're doing something different, and a long-term benefit is you'll have experience that could lead to a new job or even starting your own business. 

Make lists. 

Make a list of all the things you hate about your job, your boss, your co-workers. "I hate my job because I'm bored" or maybe "I despise my boss because she's catty, picks favorites, and is a total slave-driver." You get the gist. Next, add a little line expressing gratitude. "I am bored at work, but at least my job pays the bills." "My boss is crazy, but I don't have to be stuck with her forever." 

 Finally, write out some things you love to do or career options you'd enjoy, along with small, actionable steps you could take to start working toward them. "I would love to work as a graphic designer, and my local community college offers night classes I can take."  "I want to open a photography business, and I have a photographer friend who might let me shadow them on photo shoots and give me business advice." Get the idea? 

Do one small thing every day to push you toward your dreams. 

Whether it's one hour or ten minutes, set aside a little time each day to chase your goals. Whether it's conducting online research about your dream career, adding to your portfolio, working on your website, taking courses to add skills to your repertoire, or even just writing out what your goals for the future are, do it. Make the time. 

Gain some perspective. 

There are people alive who cannot work at all. There are many without a roof over their heads or any clothes to wear. As much as you hate your job, you're lucky to have it. Does that mean it's okay that you are treated unfairly? Heck no. Does that mean you should stay where you are? Absolutely not. But let me tell you, there is freedom in gratitude, so be honest with yourself and understand that your situation could be worse. Be thankful for what you have while simultaneously working for something better.  

Know that it's okay to be dissatisfied.

I know this may sound like a direct contradiction to the last point, but hear me out. It's okay to not be okay with your current work situation. There's nothing wrong with being dissatisfied with where you are, and in fact, you should be dissatisfied if you are treated unfairly or completely unfulfilled in your work. 

 Here's what's not okay, or at least not going to help you at all: allowing that discontentment to turn into stagnation. It's far too easy to get comfortable with hating your job and constantly complaining about it and before you know it, you start slipping into the quicksand of inaction. Apathy minus action will get you nowhere. Don't let this happen! You can do better! Instead of letting your discontentment turn into complacency, convert it into a burning desire for something better and fuel for taking steps toward change. 


Take this with a grain of salt. I know everyone's situation is different, but if you have the opportunity to leave your awful job, take it. If the opportunity never seems to come, work on creating the opportunity! My friend, life is too short to spend 40+ precious hours a week doing something you absolutely dread.

The thought of embarking on a business venture or taking on a new career may seem terrifying, but ask yourself which scares you more: the thought of something new and exciting that will require growth, trial and error, and hard work, or the thought that you could stay exactly where you are, at a job you hate, waking up with that sickening ache of dread every morning? 

If you hate your job and dread going to work every day, trust me; you're not alone. I've worked jobs I loathed before, and I'd love to hear your story and chat with you. Tell me your story, and if you have any further questions, post them in the comments. I'll do my best to help!



Tiffany Walking Eagle