If you hate your job, you’re certainly not alone. Hating your job is nothing new. Neither is the thought of quitting or the blissful daydreams that thought conjures. But if you’re a parent, you probably don’t have the luxury of up and leaving on a whim. You have responsibility to your family, which may mean sticking it out for a while so you can get health insurance and a paycheck.
Whatever the case, sticking it out at company or in a role you can’t stand can take a major toll on your mental health — not to mention your ability to be present with your family. Sure, you’re making your mortgage payments, but you run the risk of burnout or simply having your hatred of work bleed into your personality.
If quitting your job simply isn’t an option at the moment, it’s important to prioritize your own well-being – and that, of course, requires a bit of strategy, both on the job and at home. What does that strategy consist of? Here are some suggestions on how to cope with a job you hate, according to therapists and career experts.
- Remember Your “Why”
If you hate your job, odds are it’s related to the work itself, or maybe your boss or coworkers. If that’s the case, try to remember why you went into your field to begin with. Once you remember what inspired you from the start, try to tap into those aspects of your job again. According to Colorado-based psychologist Alicia Rozycki, recalling the passions, goals, and values that drew you into your job in the first place can serve as a motivator to stay the course, even if it’s just until you find a better opportunity.
- Focus on small, daily wins
If quitting isn’t an option for the time being, it may help to shift your mindset. Kyle Elliott, a career coach in Silicon Valley, suggests focusing on the small daily wins that make your work more tolerable rather than making drastic changes to your career. The key is focusing on areas that are actually in your control is a powerful tactic. “This may include making better use of rest breaks and lunch time, signing up for projects that excite you, or carving out time to talk with colleagues you enjoy spending time with,” he says. These small areas might not make your job amazing –– but they could keep you sane as you wait it out.
- Reward yourself
Setting yourself up with something to look forward to at the end of the day (or week) might also motivate you to push through the tough moments, says Elliott. Even small rewards, like taking your family out for dinner or ice cream on Friday night or scheduling time to hang out with a friend might help you to stick it out (and give you something positive to think about when you’re fixating on the tough parts).
- Protect your time at home
It can be hard to separate yourself from work when you’re home. Lingering issues and unfinished tasks can bleed into home life. But it’s crucial to take the appropriate steps to create a clear demarcation between the two. “Think about how you’d spend your time if you didn’t hate work and focus on those activities or relationships, whether or not you’re too tired or don’t feel like it,” says Ashleigh Edelstein, an Austin-based psychotherapist. When a work-related thought or feeling pops up, do your best to notice it, then gently bring your attention back to the present moment — and remind yourself why whatever you’re doing is important to you.
- Take micro-breaks throughout the work day
If you’re struggling to get through the day, schedule time in your calendar to take more opportunities for mental and physical respite. The good news is, your breaks don’t have to be long to make a difference. Edelstein says even frequent microbreaks can reduce overwhelm and conserve energy. Try taking a few minutes every couple of hours for mindful stretching, breathing, calling a friend, or taking a quick walk — anything to focus on yourself.
- Talk to your boss
Your boss might be a lot of things, but chances are, he or she isn’t a mind reader. Sam Johns, a career coach and professional resume writer at Resume Genius, points out that while supervisors interact with their employees on a daily basis, they may not know you’re not enjoying your job. If you feel comfortable (and if you think your job could be worth salvaging), explain how you feel to your boss.
“There’s a good chance they’ll be able to make some positive changes to make you feel better about your job,” John says. “Most people are reasonable, and if you’re a good performer, your boss won’t want you to be unhappy because they’ll be afraid of losing you.” Small improvements probably won’t transform your job into your dream role, but at least it’ll improve your situation until you pivot careers.
- Plan your exit
Career coach Carlota Zimmerman recommends sitting down with your spouse to talk about the sacrifices you’re making and creating a schedule for how long you have to stay the course. Are you doing it until you save a certain amount of money or until your partner finishes their own education? It also may be a great time to chat with a financial advisor about your short-term and long-term money goals, and eventually, to start making connections in the company or industry you want to work in once you meet those goals. “It can be easier to deal with this BS if you know there is an end in sight,” Zimmerman says.
How to Hate Your Job Around Your Kids: What to Remember
As a parent, coping with a difficult job situation isn’t just about your own self-care –– it’s important to be a good example to your kids, too, and that means protecting them from your stress.
How do you do this? Well, you don’t gripe about your job around them. This means when you vent to your spouse or friends about your job, make sure the kids aren’t within earshot — even if they’re too young to understand. Kids are like sponges, picking up on direct and indirect messages.
“The message being conveyed might be that a certain job field isn’t good enough, or that there is an expectation to stay at a job you hate just for the benefits,” says Dr. Nikki Lacherza-Drew a New Jersey-based psychologist who works primarily with teenagers and adolescents. “But children don’t have the cognitive capacity to understand abstract and complex situations at such young ages.”
This means that work-life boundaries are even more important for parents who hate their jobs. Whether you work remotely or in the office, end work when you clock out – and try not to answer calls or emails after hours and during family time. Tightening up your boundaries will prevent your frustrations from negatively impacting your kids, and hopefully, give you some breathing room to destress before another day on the job, too.