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Finding Happiness in a Job You Hate

This lesson is a part of an audio course What to Do When You Hate Your Job by Lindsay Hanson

You’re taking steps to get clear on the right career path for you – but what do you do in the meantime while you’re still in a job you hate?

The good news is that you don’t have to wait until you’re in your dream job to feel happy. In fact, if you’re allowing your external circumstances to dictate your happiness, you’re probably living a very unhappy life.

The key is cultivating a sense of happiness despite your circumstances being less than ideal. Our happiness doesn’t come from the situation, but it comes from the way we’re thinking about the situation.

If you’re at work all day thinking thoughts like:

  • I hate it here
  • I have so much to do
  • I’m so stressed out
  • I just want to go home

You’re probably feeling very anxious & unhappy.

My favorite exercise that I have my clients do in this situation is to bring a sense of purpose to your work, and connect it back to service. No matter what you’re doing and how mundane or unfulfilling it feels, you are helping somebody.

As an accountant, I hated doing taxes. But I also recognized that I was helping people who felt overwhelmed with doing their taxes & didn’t have the expertise to do it themselves. I was helping businesses to save money. I was helping relieve some of that stress for those individuals & business owners so they could focus on their zone of genius.

Take out your journal and list out all the ways that you’re helping others with your work. Connect each aspect of your job to serve. And then when you notice those thoughts of “I hate it here” or “I’m so stressed out” coming up throughout the day, bring it back to a sense of purpose.

Something I often hear from people is, “if I learn to be happy in this job, then wouldn’t I just want to stay here?” Maybe, but you’d likely still want to make a change.

The difference is that you’d be making a change not from a place of wanting to run away from something you hate, but from a place of wanting to move toward something you desire.

And this is really important. If you make a career change just to get out of this job you’re in now, you’re likely going to find yourself stuck again. Because you weren’t looking for something that would feel fulfilling, you were just looking for an escape from your current situation.

However, if you make a career change with the intention of moving into something that would bring you a sense of purpose, that’s how you’ll find yourself on a path to fulfillment.

Another thing that I often hear is people feel like they’re being ungrateful for wanting to quit their job. They say things like “I should be grateful to have a job at all” or “I feel guilty for wanting to leave when this job pays me well and provides me with good benefits.”

That’s like staying in a relationship when you know it’s not the right person, but you’d feel bad for breaking up with them because they’re a good person and they treat you well. That doesn’t do anyone any good.

Your job, your relationship, your living situation, any part of your life doesn’t have to be bad in order for you to want something different. You’re allowed to have something good & still want something different. And that doesn’t make you ungrateful. It just means you’re ready to move on.

A good exercise might be making a list of the things you’re grateful for in your current job. Be grateful for the paycheck that you get every 2 weeks and how that money supports you. Be grateful for your health care and your retirement accounts and all the benefits you’re getting from this job. Be grateful that you have a job when there are people who have been laid off or are struggling to find work at all.

And then remind yourself that you’re allowed to be grateful for these things and still want to make a change.

In the next lesson, we’re gonna answer the big question: how do you discover your passion?

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Written by

Lindsay Hanson