How To Be Happy Working at a Job You Hate

by Katie on November 21, 2011

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My current working conditions are ideal. On paper.

My own office in a beautiful Old City loft condo. A gorgeous view of the Ben Franklin Bridge. The ability to (for the most part) make my own hours. I work during the day for a real estate developer, and have permission to be at the loft whenever I’d like to even work on other projects.

It should be every freelance writers wet dream.

Alas, on a scale of 1-10 of happiness, a month ago when I thought about it, I rated about a 4. I SHOULD be happy. I have it made to some people. But to me? There’s something missing.

My current boss may end up reading this, but I need to say it. Where I work now, probably won’t be where I am forever. I’m not passionate about real-estate. I enjoy learning new things and being part of a team that’s about to launch a new restaurant, but at the end of the day, I don’t feel fufilled. The question is: Is that my fault for choosing to work somewhere that doesn’t give me the fufillment I seek? Or is it my fault for not thinking outside of the box to find fufillment in what I do?

Raise your hand if you’re reading this post at work right now instead of doing a project you’re supposed to be doing.  Maybe you’re working at a mind numbingly simple job that doesn’t challenge you. But if you’ve gotten this far, and at least got past the title of this post, you’re probably unhappy (at best) at your current job, and may even be down right miserable.

The economy isn’t exactly boom-bastic, so most of us feel stuck at our jobs, knowing that we can’t leave and risk not finding something else especially when there’s rent to pay and Whipped Cream Vodka to buy. It’s true that staying at your current job might be a necessity, but being miserable, unhappy and unfulfilled? That’s a choice.

Unbeknownst to a lot of people, even my closest friends, a month ago I burned out. I was forced to take a no bull shit look at my current situation and decide whether I was going to stick with it, or move on. My psyche wasn’t allowing me to fake it anymore; I wasn’t happy and needed a change in attitude or job. Here are some of the things that I’ve found helpful in getting through the mundane tasks at a job that isn’t exactly parallel with my big dream career.

  • First of all: Do you really hate your job? I know, you’re screaming “YES I EFFING HATE IT!” right now. But, think about it. Is it the whole job? Or just aspects of it? If you really do hate your job completely and entirely, maybe you should actually consider leaving. If there’s not even a glimmer of happiness, ever, then you may need to skip this one until you’re at a job in which you’re at least happy sometimes.
  • Treat your job, no matter what your role is, as your own business. This is particularly effective if you want to start your own business because it will make you feel (and actually be) closer to that dream. Realize that you’re not necesarilly working for someone, but with someone. Take value in each of the tasks you do.
  • Get into the habit of referring to your current job as “yours”. Instead of saying ‘The company that I work for is going through a change right now”, say “My company is going through a big change right now, and I’m leading a project surrounding that.”  It is partly your company. You invest your time, your efforts, you sanity some days, and reap the benefits of a job well done.
  • Value believing in yourself. If your boss …ahem, the guy you work with, (not for), isn’t so good at positive reinforcement, be sure to treat yourself to a congratulatory pat on the back.
  • Think about a part of your job that could be in line with your big dream. For me, I’m a writer by nature, and a psychological counselor at heart. Although I have to collect rent, charge fees, make awkward phone calls, and organize website builds, I also get to write letters, do blogging, and give my input on projects. I get to throw some advice in the way of the people I work with. I get to live a little bit of my dream everyday.  There’s a little bit of your dream in every job you will ever work, you just need to find it.

What it all boils down to is this: “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at will change“. Sounds cheesy. Sounds cliche. Is cliche. But it’s the truth, y’all.

You have two choices: Go on being miserable at your job that you’re stuck at because it pays your bills. Or, realize that this job is just a stepping stone in your career, and bleed it dry of everything you can learn. Learn from your company’s mistakes and failures just as much as their successes and triumphs.

Totally up to you. Happiness is cheaper though. Less therapy and anxiety medication. Just sayin’.

Katie is a twenty-seven (cue panic attack and dose of xanax) year old living in Philadelphia by way of New Jersey. By day, she's a personal assistant / social media consultant / dating advice giver to a local real-estate developer. (Seriously, his game is whack.) By day and night she's the community manager for Stratejoy, Team Leader for Love Bomb, and Marketing Consultant for a company in the automotive business that you've probably never heard of. Katie has been a freelance writer for 3 years and is finally giving out her advice publicly. She can land you a job. Seriously. She's got mad skills, yo. She's currently obsessed with pancakes, Riesling, Cheese, positive psychology, Dexter, inspirational quotes, good grammar and buying everything necessary to be a runner... only she hates running.
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