Mondays! A day like any other day, yet dreaded by so many because it reminds them to get to a job they dread.
It’s rather tough going to bed at night depressed over the fact that you are going to be waking up to be somewhere you’ll rather not be. And quite unfortunately, you get to spend a greater part of your life at work and nothing could be worse than being miserable for a greater part of your life!
What makes people dread or hate their jobs? How do people cross the threshold of initial excitement about getting a job to the utter dread of walking into the same office where you almost begged to be given a chance? Could it be the concept of ‘see-finish’, as we call it? Could it be that things were not as they seemed at the interview? Or could it be that you are just plain fed up with the daily routine and perhaps pesky colleagues? There are several possible reasons why people begin to dread their jobs:
- A bad boss: Let’s not pretend. Some people love their jobs but dread their bosses!
- Hostile working environment: Ever walked into an office where there is so much gossip and backbiting that you literally shut yourself in and wish everyone would go away? Pesky colleagues, everyone tearing the other down just to get ahead…yes, such working environments exist.
- Non-challenging Job Descriptions: Many people look at their JDs and sigh and feel ‘I should be doing more than this’ or ‘I’m better than this’. Some people dread the routine their jobs have become.
- The targets: Yes! Some people are constantly under pressure to meet targets and deadlines and they feel it’s never enough. The organization is going to constantly want more. And do not think it is only the bankers that have targets. Many people are constantly under pressure to perform and they feel no matter their achievements, the pressure to perform never goes down but rather increases.
- Unmet expectations: Many people enter organizations with so much hope, promises, expectations. It’s worse when the office environment is so fine and plush only for you to realize that what is outside bears no semblance to what actually goes in on the inside. Some are promised a pay raise after few months but never get it, some do not get confirmed after their probation period, some get their workload increased dramatically without any commensurate compensation etc.
- Poor Salary: We just can’t leave this one out. People dread their jobs when they feel like their salary is pittance.
The list is by no means exhaustive. Many other reasons exist why people dread their jobs. Knowing why is the first step to achieving your freedom and this freedom is necessary for your mental balance and state of health. You will be surprised how many people’s health are affected by the jobs they do.
The easiest thing to tell someone who is miserable at their jobs is to quit! What other advice could be better? You often hear the saying “You are not a tree, move!” OR “If the kitchen is too hot for you, get out of the kitchen”. Easier said than done.
I believe in being practical and logical. If you quit without getting another job, do you have any other source of income? If yes, then by all means do. If you quit and go to the next one, what is the guarantee that the next job will be as ‘angelic’ as you desire? If you keep quitting after one year or two, you are jeopardizing your career and no recruiter will want to touch your CV with a ten-foot pole.
How then can you navigate through a job you dread?
- Create goals for yourself! What can I do for myself while on this job? Can I use my income to get a second degree, a certification, a side hustle? If yes, what is my projected timeline? 2 years? 5 years? Whatever goal you create will be the spring in your steps. That vision/goal becomes the real reason you love to get to work in the morning. I stayed on a job I didn’t particularly care for, for many (and I mean many!) years, so that I could get and finish a 2nd degree. That always gave me the strength to push forward. Use the resources at your disposal to work on your goals. Use the office space, the laptop/desktop, the internet, the relationships/networks etc. The more skills and knowledge you acquire, the better you even become at your present job and it becomes a win-win for you and the organization.
- Learn and manage your boss. That must be one ‘art’ every employee needs to learn. Every boss is different. The boss you think is nice and not stressful, might just not be pushing you forward career wise. After all, s/he doesn’t like stress! The boss you think is horrible, might actually be the one pushing you to do more, to be more, to fly! You need to learn emotional intelligence, being aware of your boss, his way of thinking and doing things and devising ways to work with him/her. If your mindset is always that of ‘I have a horrible boss’, you might never be happy in your workplace and you need to be! Almost all your life is spent at work. Understanding your boss’ personality, his/her preferences and learning how to significantly make his/her work load lighter, gives you the freedom and room to breathe easy on your job.
- The best way to maneuver a toxic work environment is to keep things professional. When you begin to mix work with unnecessary emotions & friendships, you can get caught up in a whirlwind that you didn’t bargain for. It’s great to be ‘nice’. It’s good to be ‘friendly’. But you must learn boundaries at the workplace. There is a workplace attitude, workplace etiquette, that should be adopted at the workplace. The workplace is not a ‘political party’ and you should be determined to steer clear of anything that makes you appear incompetent and unprofessional. People get caught up in toxic work environments when they are focused on being ‘liked’ or focused on ‘aligning with the right crew’. No one can deny or resist an employee who is excellent at their jobs regardless of whether they are nice or not. Focus on that. Focus on creating value and on being the best at what you do.
- Routine work is usually one of the biggest reasons people dread their jobs. Some people feel what they do is too little or is not challenging enough. I am a firm believer of ‘your career is in your hands’. If you can, talk to your HR about expanding your job responsibilities, after you have identified other things that you feel you are skilled and equipped to take on in the organization. If, however that doesn’t pan out well, expand your job by yourself. Get interested in what other units do. Volunteer to help out in other units. On your own job description, change the way you have been doing things. Redesign your report format. Create new SOPs or redesign the old ones. Expand your desk by yourself by either doing things differently or doing entirely new things. Anything you create or develop, whether recognized or commended by the organization or not, is your intellectual property and is accrued to you as a skill, forever. These small changes can change the way you feel about your job in a tremendous way!
- Acquire more knowledge. Read. I dare say that people who give themselves to reading never have a dull moment. When people complain about boredom on their jobs, I immediately calculate the amount of knowledge they could have acquired or how they could easily turn hours of boredom or dread as the case may be, to a wealth of knowledge. There is nothing that boosts confidence as knowledge, the right type of knowledge that is relevant to your life and career. It’s not enough to just search Google randomly or scroll through social media in the name of seeking knowledge. You have to strategically acquire knowledge by seeking out experts in the fields and ‘absorbing’ everything they have written or said about their field. You can also learn new things about a field that has been of keen interest to you. It can even be ‘seemingly mundane’ things like how to knit, how to make shoes, how to bake etc. You never know where learning such skills could take you in the nearest future! Point is, don’t just sit still waiting for one ‘miracle’ job to show up. Make the change. Be the change. You will be surprised at the opportunities that suddenly present themselves when you change.
There are no perfect organizations simply because imperfect people work in them! An organization is not an entity that exists in space somewhere. The organization is made up of you and I and as sure as we all have shortcomings, the organization will definitely fall short because it is run by you and I. The ability to make the most of any situation is in your hands.
Take your power back and take charge of your career and life.
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