9 Reasons You Hate Your Job & the Formula to Find Joy in Your Work 

By the end of this article, you will have learned a simple formula for happiness at work. Stick through to the end. 

Reading Time: 9 minutes

This post is for you if you don’t want to be unhappy in your work whether you are old or young. If you’ve ever felt that soul-crushing anxiety that comes from feeling trapped in your career, you aren’t alone. This can lead to a “midlife crisis” where people tend to wonder why they didn’t become an astronaut or a veterinarian like they wanted.

CAN YOU RELATE?

“I was a decade into my career. My work used to make me happy, but that was no longer the case. There was office drama and I was overworked and underpaid. I had a rigid schedule that didn’t fit my family’s needs. I was so busy during work that I would get headaches from not having time to eat, drink, or use the restroom. I was sick with anxiety. I had to do something. My health was on the line.” -Chris A.

The sad fact is that many people who were once happy with their work can and do burn out. When burnout happens, it tends to negatively affect every aspect of a person’s life. 

T.I.M.E.

The clock is always ticking, no matter what we do. What a person does with their time is relative, but the typical adult’s life is divided into three equal parts: work, leisure, and sleep. We are only conscious during two of these activities, so let’s talk about work and leisure. 

Work is a necessary part of life. 

Nothing will ever get accomplished without working. It is so important to learn to work, yet most people don’t like some aspects or any aspects of their jobs. Sure, there are those rare unicorns that say they would do their jobs for free because they love their work so much. For the rest of us, work feels like modern-day slavery.

Leisure is what most of us are living for. 

People dream about vacation, the weekend, taking up a new hobby, or even just quitting time when they can take off their shoes, relax, and uncoil the stresses of their day. Unfortunately, a slew of chores, projects, homework, and errands will weasel into your allotted leisure time, but that is a topic for another article.

Let’s dive into why some people are so miserable at work. 

anxiety at work
  1. FLEXIBILITY (or lack thereof) is a major cause of workers’ woes. Employees may experience long, undesirable hours. They may be expected to work on holidays, weekends, overtime, on-call, or work on special family occasions, making work the number one commitment in life. That is bad news for anyone who didn’t know they were marrying their job.

Working parents have it particularly rough. Coordinating and paying for childcare is not fun. It doesn’t get much easier when kids get a little older either. Many parents find themselves in the difficult situation of being stuck at work when their kids get home from school, have a day off, are sick, etc. 

  1. INSUFFICIENT PAY is a surefire way to burn out quickly. People need money to survive, and if work isn’t paying you enough to live comfortably, you probably won’t be happy. 

Inflation was over 8% in 2022. As a reference, inflation was 1.8% in 2019 and is usually around a 2% increase from the previous year. Prices have become so high recently that wages have been forced to rise. Even so, most of us haven’t received an 8% raise.

Many people have resorted to getting a second job or a side hustle. Unfortunately, this leads to less free time and increased burnout eventually. 

  1. NO PASSION. If the pay is good, and you have freedom and flexibility, you can still hate your job. This may mean that the type of position you are currently in doesn’t suit you.

You may feel you are meant to do something completely different with your talents. 

When searching for a career path, you should consider your personality, strengths, and needs. An introvert probably won’t want to be a door-to-door salesman, and an extrovert would probably not feel fulfilled as a data scientist. Someone with young kids might not want to be an over-the-road driver, and so forth.

  1. NOT CONFIDENT. Many workers don’t feel qualified to perform their duties and aren’t offered proper training. This can lead to uneasiness and make someone dread going to work. If you feel insecure about your abilities, you probably won’t like your job much. 

Training is usually the antidote for not being confident on the job, but it can be expensive.

There can be barriers to working in many fields. Who wants to go back to school in their 30s when their first career didn’t work? If you want to, more power to you! Here is an article about the value of a university degree

On the flip side, a large percentage of college grads didn’t need their particular degree for their current job. I bet you or someone you know fits into that category. Here’s another article about that. It is worth noting that most employers value relevant experience over formal education unless formal education is needed by law for certain professions, such as doctors or lawyers. 

  1. NOT FEELING APPRECIATED. Business owners tend to focus on the customer and can fall into the trap of neglecting the people who make their company function. 

We can feel taken for granted in our jobs by supervisors or customers. A genuine “thank you” or “great work” can go a long way. 

During meetings and reviews, some employers tend to tack on new tasks and expectations in addition to the employees’ current responsibilities. After so many meetings, these can add up and become unrealistic. Many employees end up feeling that they will never do enough to meet expectations. Even if they do, the bar will keep rising.  

  1.  REPETITION & BOREDOM. Humans are complex creatures capable of more than one set of skills. Sometimes people lose the drive for their work because they have mastered it. They can’t progress any further and need a new skill set to tackle. 
  1. COMMUTE. Driving a long way in traffic can add extra time and cost to your day. Long drives are pricey because they take away from our leisure time and decrease spending power since so much money is going toward fueling up. Another cost is to your health as traffic and dangerous road conditions cause a spike in stress hormones.
  1. LACK OF BENEFITS. Nothing separates a job from a career faster than benefits. If your job doesn’t offer benefits such as insurance policies, paid time off, vacation time, sick pay, maternity or paternity leave, etc. you might not feel particularly inclined to stay for the long haul. Unfortunately, many employers are skimping on benefits these days. 
  1. TOXIC WORK ENVIRONMENT: This is potentially the most likely of any on the list to make you hate your work and has many possible instances: 
  • Your employer may be breaking labor laws, making working conditions harsh. Depending on where you live, these laws vary. A quick google search will enlighten you on the particulars of this topic.
  • You may no longer trust your boss or your co-workers. 
  • Your boss may be micromanaging you when you are a self-starter. 
  • Your team may have an “every man for themselves” attitude and cut you behind your back even if you go out of your way to be helpful to them. 
  • There may be gossip, whether true or not, that creates a contentious work environment. 
  • There may be some form of harassment or abuse going on.

So you decided that you hate your job, now what?

What if you had a mathematical formula to ensure you enjoyed more of your time… your work time to be specific. 

Intrigued? I don’t blame you. 

The first key element of the formula is FOCUS. 

The 1st Ingredient for Joy In Your Work

If you want to enjoy something, you need to focus on it. How can we increase our focus? Here are a couple of ideas that you may have heard but are effective.

  • Setting a short timer for 10-20 minutes and focusing SOLELY on your designated task is a great way to get started. Once you begin a venture, momentum builds, and continuing is easy. 
  • Writing down what you are trying to accomplish helps, especially if you keep it in front of you as you work.

We all know how difficult it is to maintain focus because distractions are everywhere, BUT focusing on something with an intent deepness causes someone to be impervious to all distractions. 

Think about it; ever seen kids who are SO focused on a video game or building legos or playing with friends that they don’t want to come to the kitchen and eat because they are too enthralled in their activity? 

How about a guy or gal on college game day doing nothing but watching and re-watching their alma mater become victorious over their foe? 

Even if you tried to distract them from their games (or whatever else they are obsessively doing), you’d be unsuccessful nine times out of ten. 

Here is what our formula looks like:

Video game + hypno-focus = Enjoyment 

College football + wide-eyed stare = Enjoyment

The formula is stable thus far, but what if we try a different task at the beginning: 

Dishwashing + crazy focus = SLOWLY DYING INSIDE

Wait, what happened? 

As it turns out, we were missing one vital detail, and you may have guessed it; DESIRE.

desire is necessary to love your work

There has to be a deep-rooted purpose for your actions. If you don’t want to do something and have to, you start to feel like you are in prison. The proper formula looks like this: 

Task + Desire + Focus = Enjoyment

Now, let’s plug everything in from our failed formula earlier:

Dishwashing + Desire + Focus = Enjoyment

Have you ever wanted to do the dishes and focus on them? If so, you’d notice how nice the hot water can feel on your hands and how much better your kitchen feels when you finish. It can be fun if you are honest with yourself. What most people don’t like about doing the dishes is that it is a never-ending job. 

If you could automate repetitive tasks, you’d have the power to do them when you desire and have them done for you the rest of the time. Wouldn’t that be nice? Here is an alternate formula for that:

Menial task + Automated system + Focus on more important things = Enjoyment

Sometimes that is wishful thinking. We all have to do monotonous jobs occasionally, but in a perfect world, those things would all be elegantly automated. In cases when you have tedious work to do, turning on music is a good idea. 

The Takeaway:

If you hate your job, look at the formula and see what is off. 

Sometimes all you need to do is tweak the variables. Sometimes you need to DECIDE to be happy or have “Enjoyment” in your work. You can often figure out how to amend the missing variables in the formula once you decide you WILL be happy. 

They say that you can choose to be happy. This method works best if the main reason that you hate your job is due to a changeable perception of your work: aka an attitude adjustment.

However, if you could relate to several reasons to hate your job, consider bringing these up with someone at work. If things can get worked out, great! If talking doesn’t resolve the problem, some introspection is in order. Something like meditation, consulting someone you trust, or thinking about if you would like to be in your job in 5 years may be helpful. 

Work Together

The purpose of this article was not to prompt people to leave their job or to stay. Go out there, do what you feel is right, and ENJOY your work. It isn’t worth hating what you do during ½ of your waking hours just for a paycheck unless you have no other option. Luckily, you have lots of options. 

Author: Alisa Pittard

1 thought on “9 Reasons You Hate Your Job & the Formula to Find Joy in Your Work ”

  1. Your well-written article honed in on exact feelings and frustrations I’ve experienced in the job world! Thank you for providing valuable solutions to an all-too-common problem which many encounter!

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