I Hate My Job
How often to you hear a family member, friend, or colleague, say, “I hate my job?” Well maybe they don’t really hate their job, but they are unhappy with their job, or they don’t like the company where they are employed.
I can’t recall the number of times I have listened to people complaining about their jobs, their companies, their bosses, etc. And this is not just at the lower levels in an organization, because I have heard it from top executives with titles like COO, EVP, CFO, Sr VP, etc. I know, you always thought that the folks in the “C Suites” loved their jobs, not so, and even some the top dogs can be unhappy too.
According to a 2015 Forbes article about job satisfaction, the top 5 reasons people were unhappy with their job are:
1. They are unhappy with their boss or company leadership;
2. The rampant toxicity or crushing demands, exhausts and depresses them;
3. The services or products they’re working on feel either meaningless or wrong;
4. They sense they’re made for something much better, more meaningful and more exciting;
5. They long to use different talents, and leverage their creativity and ingenuity but have no idea how to do that and make the money they need.
Through my travels, all of these all sound familiar. Other things I typically hear include: frustration about promotions of other people and project assignments; allocation of resources or just not enough people to get the job done; and there is always that frustration about not getting paid enough. I am sure that all of you can come up with many more reasons people are unhappy at work. What strikes me the most after reviewing the list above and my personal additions, is that we have no control over most of the things on the list (can you pick out the two which you do have control over—more about those in a second).
Over the years, we have all leaned to be “good complainers”. I am not talking about saying it is too cold in a restaurant, or my french fries are not hot enough, I am talking about things that we have no control over. As an example, I was in Manhattan this summer for a cousin’s wedding. All off my siblings thought it would be fun to meet a few days before the wedding and play tourists. The first day when we met for breakfast, I heard one of my sibs (I won’t say who) complaining about all of the traffic noise emanating from the street below at 6:30 AM. Wait a minute, did this sibling stop to think for a minute that we are in a Mid-Town Manhattan hotel? What does one expect to hear at 6:30 AM on a weekday, in Manhattan, soft violins playing in the background?
So, what is the point of complaining about your job? Now I understand that at times it helps to just get out frustrations. But what exactly do we get out of continually complaining? Generally, complaining brings us down, leads to more dissatisfaction with our job, and maybe depression. We set off a series of neurotransmitters that can be harmful to our thoughts and our bodies. When I complain, I feel the tension in my shoulders, neck, and my jaw tightens. I feel down, and a bit lost, since solutions can seem elusive. Well that is interesting, because the very nature of ongoing complaining, is many times there really isn’t a solution that I have control over—-so once again, why do I complain, what do I get out of it, or getting back on track, why do we complain so much about our jobs? Especially the things we have no control over!
Think about the list of reasons people are unhappy with their job. How many things on the list can we actually control or change? Wait, I don’t get to choose my boss and I can’t change the way leadership thinks. Or how about those projects assigned to me, or why someone else was promoted over me? Now we can complain and be unhappy about these things, but what do we really get out of it. More importantly, our thoughts create the world we live in. So, if you have regular ongoing negative thoughts about your job, it stands to reason that you won’t be happy with your job.
Now, let’s go back to the two things on the list that make people unhappy at work that we can control—-told you I would circle back! If you have looked carefully, you picked these two:
– They sense they’re made for something much better, more meaningful and more exciting;
– They long to use different talents, and leverage their creativity and ingenuity but have no idea how to do that and make the money they need.
Wow! Think about it; we sense we are made for something more meaningful and exciting, and we aren’t leveraging our talents and creativity—-talk about good reasons to be unhappy with your current job. If I think back on all of the times I have listened to people complain about their jobs, I don’t recall someone telling me either of these reasons. Is it because we don’t have to be responsible of fixing the situation? It can be easy to place blame elsewhere vs taking the responsibility for the situation. It is easier to complain about what we don’t like, instead of taking actions to fix things, or finding solutions Fixing things and finding solutions can be challenging and scary. There seems to be a fear in all of us that keeps us from recognizing and taking the responsibility to find positive solutions. Sometimes fighting the fear can be more paralyzing than the fear itself.
So, if you fall into the bucket of “hating your job,” how can you take responsibly for changing things or looking for solutions? First, recognize that complaining to complain about work is fruitless. It can be healthy to share your frustrations with friends or loved ones, but you will soon hit diminishing returns, and continued complaining gets you nothing. More importantly, your complaints will become your reality. Second, think about what really drives you and what are the talents you want to pursue in a job or career? Is it possible that you can find those things within your current company, or will you ultimately need to seek employment elsewhere?
These are all difficult questions and I don’t have all of the answers, but we all want to be happy with our work. Some things are out of our control, but we actually have the power to find solutions and fix some of the things we don’t like. Take the time to identify the things you can control and use your talents to make some of those things happen. Fight the inner fear to determine what really interests and motivates you. Find a way or a solution to apply your inner wisdom and talents to a job that satisfies you. It might mean you will have to take a risk, and with that risk comes the fear of failure. But I beleive to take a risk and fail, is still a success.
So, “I hate my job” is not the end of the road. I think it is the fork in the road, and that by using powerful /positive thinking we can find new solutions and options that will create renewed happiness and motivation. The next time you want to complain about your job and/or company realize that you have the power to change the dynamic, and choose to focus on the things that you can control and change. It is kind of like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, she always had the ability to get home on her own, and now so do you!