Raise your hand if you’ve recently (or long ago) realized that “I hate my job” is a regular thought that crosses your mind.
That is literally half or more of the American workforce. Which means, either way, you choose it, the majority of people wish they had different jobs.
For most people, their lives feel like it revolves around their job. Especially if they work a typical 9-5 type job. They spend the majority of their most energetic and creative hours at work and go home feeling completely drained.
They spend the rest of their time trying to decompress and destress with time wasting activities only to feel like their working hours have returned all too quickly. It leaves them feeling unsatisfied and especially unhappy in life.
Can you relate at all?
It’s a pattern I see a lot. In friends, loved ones, and the eyes of complete strangers whose paths I cross when I enter their place of business. It’s not hard to tell the difference between someone who is doing something they love and something that simply pays their bills.
It’s also not hard to tell who is happy and who isn’t.
I see it on a daily basis and as someone who has experienced it first hand, I wanted to take some time to address it and maybe, just maybe, help your life be a little better.
The first thing I want to say to you is that you are amazing! To have the strength and ability to go to a place you hate day after day just to support yourself and/or your family always leaves me overwhelmingly impressed.
Because I think you’re so amazing, I want to help you in the best way I currently can…
Below I give you some things I’ve learned over the years, which if taken to heart, can help you learn to be happier too.
I Hate My Job: How I Learned to be Happy Anyways
A Fulfilled Life
To start, I have a couple questions for you…
How fulfilled in life do you feel? If you had more fulfillment in life, would you be happier?
Also, have you ever stopped to consider where you expect to get your fulfillment in life from?
Is it your job?
I think that sometimes because we try to pick career paths in something we’re interested in, that we confuse liking our job and feeling fulfilled.
It’s okay to do something you like or are good at and not feel fulfilled in life by it.
Unless you have your dream job, which I’ll assume you don’t if you’re reading this, then you probably aren’t going to find your job extremely fulfilling.
This is an especially important thing to take note of if you really dislike your job. You definitely shouldn’t be getting your fulfillment from it, if that’s the case.
I think that because so many people spend such a large majority of their time at work, they feel a need to get their fulfillment in life from work.
What would happen if instead, you just considered work to be exactly that; your place of work, and instead, got your fulfillment in life from somewhere else?
What about unearthing things you’re really passionate about and going after that outside of work?
Leave Work at Home
I used to be soooo bad at this. Something bad would happen at work, someone would say something to me, or it would be an unusually busy day, and my whole day was just totally shot.
I’d take it home with me and hash it all out with friends or family. I would spend an enormous amount of energy attempting to feel better or justified by rehashing the thing over and over and over again.
In fact, I see so many people do this and I can’t help but wonder, how much less stress and road rage, and gossip would take place if we just our work at work.
What would happen if the second you walk out of your place or work tomorrow, you just considered it to be a whole new day? Your work day is over, now your day off is here.
Here’s my challenge to you: next time you work, instead of rehashing the stress of your work day after it’s over, choose to be thankful it’s over and enjoy the rest of the day on your own terms.
When you get into your car to leave, take a moment to breathe and say to yourself “I am leaving work and I am going to focus on myself and my family for the rest of the day. Nothing that happened here today, has any effect on how I enjoy life.” and then leave work… at work.
Because other than making you feel more stressed out, what good is taking it all home with you actually doing?
Don’t Take Things Personally
If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that every single person relates to others based on past experiences. Often when someone gets upset, they project their perceptions of old things onto us. They need someone to blame besides themselves so they’ll go for the easiest target. Usually the person in the wrong place at the wrong time.
When I was in college, I worked as a hostess at a very busy upper-class food chain. Our wait times would be hours long and there would be standing room only in the waiting areas. To try to alleviate some of the congestion, we would have someone take walk-in names and pass out pagers closer to the door.
Well, one day a family came in and told me the name of the girl they had talked to about getting a table. I knew she was the one answering phones, so I didn’t think anything of it. I asked if they had a reservation and they said no, so I added them to my mile-long list.
What I didn’t know, was that the manager was going to have her get them a table earlier. Which, by the way, wasn’t communicated with me at all. 45 minutes later, I see them talking to a manager and pointing fingers at me and heard them saying mean accusatory things. They were so upset.
I was mortified. I felt terrible about it, and I let it ruin my whole day. To the point where when I had to help clean a table near them, I dropped and broke a glass salt shaker (which I had never done before). I spent the night trying to avoid the area near their table, and as you can tell, I still remember it.
I felt embarrassed and shy to even talk to my manager, for days, for fear that he might say something to me….
He never did, because he was actually a good manager, but here’s the thing, how on EARTH was I supposed to know that they were getting bumped to the top of the line if no one told me?
The only reason those people were blaming me, was because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But instead of realizing that it wasn’t actually my fault, I took it super personally and took it home with me for days.
If someone is saying something that burns, consider whether it’s really your fault and where it might be coming from.
Furthermore, we NEVER know what someone is really going through in life that makes them respond that way. For all I know, that family could’ve just been leaving a funeral. Don’t let other people’s capacity for handling stress, decide yours.
Accept Constructive Criticism
On this same note, if someone, especially a co-worker or manager, is criticizing you, consider why.
Before you react to it, ask yourself these questions:
Has there been a misunderstanding?
Instead of getting upset and reacting, get to the root of the problem (drama free) and then let it go.
Are they having a bad day and trying to share it?
We all know those people that like to spread their bitterness around cause they think it’ll make them feel better. If that’s the case, refer to the bullet points above: don’t take it personally, and don’t take it home.
Is this something I actually need to work on?
If you realize that you do need to work on it, then humbly accept the criticism, decide to work on it, and go on your way. Although people often deliver this kind of news incorrectly, they wouldn’t do it if they didn’t either mean well or really need you to make the adjustment.
Stop Basing Self-Worth Upon Your Job
Have you ever noticed that when someone asks “what you do?” People often respond with “who they are”.
Ie. “What do you do?….. “I’m a teacher”…. I am.
This is something I’ve pondered on for a while.
I’m pretty guilty of doing this myself. I started wondering “why?”
Why don’t we just say what we do instead? ie. I teach math at the local elementary school….
That’s not the common kind of answer we get. The common answer is “I am” statements.
So why is this an issue?
Have you ever noticed that certain job titles are socially more “prestigious” than others?
If you put two occupations right next to each other, your brain will automatically, and perhaps subconsciously, rank the two against each other.
Which means our brains subconsciously choose one that is better than the other.
If, as humans, we equate what we do with who we are, we’re also basing our self-worth on our occupation instead of look at our job as just an avenue by which we choose to earn money.
Maybe take a little time to consider how you answer the “what do you do?” question and whether or not you base your self-worth on your job instead of your character.
Happiness is a “Choice”
I know it’s a cliche but happiness really is a choice.
Part of me used to feel skeptical about this one until I had the revelation of emotions vs. feelings.
I used to use those two words interchangeably but they’re actually different things.
Emotions are what we naturally experience; feelings are the things we choose.
Anger is an emotion; bitterness is a choice.
Joy is an emotion; happiness is a choice.
How else do you explain that two people in similar walks of life have very different dispositions? Why are people who are significantly better off than some, more miserable?
Why is it that we feel happy when we get a new iPhone, but then feel discontent with the same phone when a new version comes out six months later?
Are you choosing how you’re going to feel about today, or are you letting your emotions today, choose how you’re going to feel?
Well, I know I’ve thrown a lot at you in this post. It’s a topic that I feel quite strongly about as I see so many people go through it.
There are not many things these days that we give as much power to make us feel miserable, as we do our place of work.
If nothing more, I hope this post has empowered you to shift the deciding authority of your happiness from outside factors like your co-workers, customers, and managers, back to yourself. Truth be told, your happiness will never reach its potential when left in the hands of others.
It’s okay to allow outside factors to influence your happiness in positive ways, but never give anyone but yourself the power to decide what your happiness level will be.
Only you can do that.
And that, my friend, just might be the secret to happiness.
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