How to Deal With a Job You Hate

By Ali Luke

October 3, 2011   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Do you dread Monday mornings?

It’d be great if we all had creative, fulfilling jobs with fantastic bosses and brilliant colleagues. The truth is, though, that an awful lot of people – some figures suggesting as many as 80% – are dissatisfied with their jobs.

Maybe you’re one of them. You might have once enjoyed your job – but either you’ve changed or the work environment has. (Perhaps there’s more pressure, longer hours, colleagues that drive you mad, a boss who’s got it in for you…) Or maybe you’ve never liked your job – but you need the money.

So what can you do about it?

Well, I’m not going to tell you to “discover your true passion” or “follow your dreams” – because I’m pretty sure that won’t be very helpful. Chances are, you need to stay in your job (at least for the next several months) – so let’s focus on making the job itself a bit more bearable.

  • Step #1: Write Down Everything You Like About Your Job
    Grab a piece of paper – or, if you want, use the comments section below this post (you can put in a nickname if you want, so that you stay anonymous!) Write a list of everything you like about your job: big or small.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • My office has air-conditioning
  • I get on well with Sue who sits at the desk next to mine
  • I have health insurance
  • My salary means I can afford the things I need
  • We always have cake or cookies on Fridays

Simply focusing on the positive will help you feel better about your job. It can also give you ideas about ways to improve things: for instance, if you get on well with your colleagues, perhaps you want to form stronger friendships with them.


  • Step #2: Brainstorm Ways to Improve Your Job
    Now that you’re in a reasonably positive frame of mind, it’s time to get constructive. Grab another sheet of paper (or use the comments section again). If you’re using paper, you might want to do this as a mind map.


Write down anything – big or small – that would make your job better. Don’t worry too much about whether it’s likely to happen, or even possible! Just get your thoughts down onto paper.

Here are some ideas:

  • Shifting my hours so I can start work at 7.30am and finish at 3.30pm
  • Listening to audio books during my long commute
  • Moving to a different office because I can’t stand sitting near John
  • Feeling appreciated for all the hard work I put in
  • Getting paid more!

It’s likely that you’ll have some items on your list that will be hard to achieve (perhaps you know there’s little chance of a pay rise) and others that you could do within a few days (like listening to audio books while in the car).

Pick ONE thing that you can do right away, and ONE thing that you could do within the next month.

Look for ways to bring some of your ideas under your control. “Feeling appreciated” might seem tricky – after all, you can’t force people to compliment you! But you could go through past emails or performance appraisals and collate any positive comments there – maybe several clients have emailed you to say how much they appreciated your attention to detail, for instance.

Whatever your job – whether it’s horrible or okay-ish or pretty good – you can use these steps to make it better. Make a start today (and let us know how you get on in the comments).

Written on 10/3/2011 by Ali Luke. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing. Photo Credit: Urthstripe
Ali Luke

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