I can’t be the only one with a few friends who always seem to hate their jobs.
Occasionally, they claim to have found one that they really love — this time! But, if you wait for a few months, they revert to hating their work at this new company too.
No job is ever good enough for them. They end up in an endless cycle of:
Complaining about their job every week.
Eventually mustering the courage to quit.
Proudly declaring that they are finally free of that stupid boss and miserable workplace!
Enjoying a few weeks of newfound freedom.
Losing the glow of being “funemployed.”
Moping around for a few weeks or months.
Jumping back into the job search.
Grumbling that they can’t find a great job because no one understands them or appreciates their brilliance.
Finally, landing an acceptable offer.
Proudly declaring on social media that their new job is perfect!
Being happy about work for a few months.
Realizing that the honeymoon phase is ending.
Complaining about their new job and boss every week.
It’s not your fault
You’re not alone if you’re unhappy at work. Sometimes, it’s not your fault that you hate your job.
Really. According to Gallup's World Poll, many people in the world hate their job and especially their boss.
In an informal survey of unhappy employees, these were the top five reasons people wanted to quit their jobs:
No control over how they spent their time at work.
No freedom or flexibility in their job requirements.
Office politics and disruptive drama.
No significant raises, no matter how hard they worked.
A bad, cruel, incompetent, or crazy boss.
That last one is a doozy. We often hear that “people join companies, but leave managers.” My own experiences with leaving companies mostly validate this truism.
I only quit when I had found a better opportunity to advance my career, significantly improve my lifetime earning potential, or when there was a bad leadership situation that was never going to improve.
A Gallup study found that:
“One in two had left their job to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career.”
A research report by the Society for Human Resource Management reveals some rather interesting data on job satisfaction. Only 12% of the people surveyed claimed that they were dissatisfied with their job. Yet, 44% of them said that it was very likely that they would look for a new job in the coming year. Huh?
Research conducted by CEB found that this job-hunting activity jumps by 6–9% on the anniversary of your hire or promotion. It climbs by 12% right before your birthday and 16% after a class reunion!
The most significant disconnect between job expectations and reality seemed to be with career advancement and career development opportunities. Essentially, is the company investing in me, and can I grow here?
Why do people decide to leave? The top reasons seem to be:
Flexibility to balance work and life
Stress in the workplace
Wanting more challenging work
Yes, there are good reasons for wanting to leave a company. Many of you probably don’t hate your actual job at all.
You may simply have issues with the specific situation at a given company and work environment around you. You may even be okay with all of that too, but you want the better opportunities that a new role, job, and an employer can provide (i.e., it’s not you, it’s me).
However, if you have a recurring pattern of eventually hating every job, it’s time for some soul searching. You may be blaming it on your boss, the company, or even your coworkers. But, there is a deeper issue.
It’s not your fault — except when it is
If you’re in a work situation that isn’t healthy and it isn’t changing, then it’s time to get out. That’s the right decision to make.
However, sometimes you keep quitting job after job after job. Before you jump out of the frying pan right into another frying pan, step back and assess what is actually going on.
Too often, people hate their job because they are focused on all the wrong things. Chasing prestige, title, and money isn’t the path to job satisfaction.
I know people who only pursued a specific profession because it pays well, or their parents pushed them down that path when they were young.
“Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.” — Paul Graham
No job is perfect. But, sometimes there is nothing wrong with your boss or the company. If you take the time to dig down deep inside, you’ll eventually uncover that you hate the work, not the job.
That may sound like a paradox, but hear me out.
For example, I love to design things, and that’s how I spent the majority of my career in Silicon Valley. I have enjoyed it ever since I was a child.
I didn’t know that the sketches of strange mechanical contraptions in my notebooks revealed a love for designing systems, but it eventually became clear.
I love the actual work of design.
No one had to force me to design.
In the early days, no one was even paying me to design.
I simply enjoyed the act of designing.
But, I haven’t always loved the job of design. I enjoyed it at some companies (Apple was great). At other companies? Not so much.
I love the job of designing consumer products. I don’t love the job of designing enterprise software.
I love solving customer problems. I don’t love “design by committee.” I didn’t love it when an executive told me to make a change “just because.” 😕
Ask yourself, do you love the work of what you do, but you just happen to hate a particular job?
Or, does that string of “bad jobs” actually reveal that you hate the underlying work of your chosen profession?
If it’s the latter, then it’s time for a more significant career change. By the way, I can help you with that.
There’s no reason to spend the rest of your life doing something that — deep down — you don’t enjoy at all. I made a massive change in my own career, and this is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.
Love the process, not the results
“Fall in love with the process, and the results will come” — Eric Thomas
My article on finding your flow state may help you uncover the clues about what you should do. When you fully align your career with whatever your flow state activity is, you tend to become extremely talented at what it takes to be successful in that profession.
If you want to stop hating your job, you must find work — or create a business — where you literally enjoy the process of your profession. You may not love a specific job, but that’s much easier to change.
If you do find yourself frequently job-hopping and never being happy, use some of these techniques to unlock the information inside you that will lead you to a much better place.
Keep a journal for a few weeks to track how you are feeling about work.
What are your happiest moments, and why do they make you feel happy?
When do you feel like work is meaningful and fulfilling?
What makes you feel frustrated, sad, or angry?
When do you feel like you are in complete control of specific tasks?
When does work feel effortless?
Take note of times that you feel a harmonious balance between challenges and your skills.
When does the process of your work feel intrinsically rewarding?
Notice if and when you lose track of time — in a positive way — during certain work activities.
This journal will help you reveal what you want more of in your next job, and what you no longer want to put up with. You will be able to create a career that you love and find a job that fulfills you when you can enjoy the activities of your profession every single day.
💬 A note from Josh Spector, creator of the For The Interested Newsletter
Hi there! Larry was nice enough to give me the chance to introduce myself and my For The Interested newsletter to you, so I'll keep it quick.
It's a free weekly newsletter that features ideas to help you better produce, promote, and profit from your creations.
Recent ideas have included stuff like how to use email to spend 50% less time in meetings, and how to get any career opportunity you want in the next six months.
Here's the most recent edition of the newsletter and you can subscribe here. Thanks!