What To Do When You Hate Your Job

Last Updated Feb 25, 2011 11:37 AM EST

You have the power to create significant positive change. And, there are only two things that you can change: you can change You or you can change It.

Changing You means to change everything about you that is under your control.

Changing It refers to changing any of the influencing forces in your life that are not you. For instance,another individual, group of people, job, place, relationship, or even the results of a choice that you made in the past that needs undoing. It is basically everything that isn't you.

The choice of whether to change it or you is up to you, and it can be difficult to determine which is the best route to take. A lot of times we make the wrong choice and try to change It when we should be changing something about ourselves, and vice versa.

So what to do when you hate your job?

There are five options.

1. Do nothing. Stoically endure the situation. Choose the status quo, electing to stay miserable rather than try to be happy. Elect to do meaningless work instead of meaningful work. This is not change of any kind.

2. Find another job. Leave the offending employer and seek a new environment. It's risky, as you never know how the new job will turn out and if the new employer will be any different from the old one. But it is changing It in its purest form. And if things are bad enough, it is worth a shot.

3. Alter your attitude toward the company. Try to find new and better ways of interacting with coworkers. Mentally readjust and try to make peace with It. That's changing You.

4. Positively and proactively change your work environment. Be respectful to decision makers, and also challenge up on important issues. Make a positive difference in work environments. Respect final decisions that cannot be changed, and realize that you can impact decisions that are in progress that can be changed.

5. Whine and complain about your employer as if voicing your resentments will somehow miraculously inspire the company and its leaders to change. This is what many people do. We've never seen this work. We doubt you have either!

Changing You is not necessarily preferable to changing It - nor is the opposite true. It depends on the situation. However, once you are aware of this "You or It" situation, you will begin to see its manifestations everywhere in your daily life, in your work and personal situations. Once you start choosing to change You or It, you'll begin to see how much doing so can affect your happiness for the better!

What have you done when you've hated your job? How have you seen people deal with this emotion?
  • Kelly and

    Kelly Goldsmith is a recent Ph.D. graduate from the Yale School of Management and a member of the faculty at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Her specialty is research in consumer decision making.
    Marshall Goldsmith is an executive educator, coach and author. His books include What Got You Here Won't Get You There and Mojo. His specialty is helping successful leaders achieve positive, lasting change in behavior.

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