What do you do if you hate your job? What do you do when what you do isn’t filling your cup any more? Today we are unpacking job dissatisfaction – that feeling that what you are doing isn’t fulfilling you, doesn’t feel fun, and what to do about it.
Whether this came on all of sudden or you’ve been feeling stuck and unhappy at work for a while, either way, it feels pretty shitty. We spend SO much time at work and we give SO much of ourselves to others that it’s really not a great feeling when that work feels empty and maybe isn’t in line with our values any more.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HATE YOUR JOB
First of all, I want to normalize this feeling. It’s not like it “used to be” – you know, your parents generation, where you got a job, worked for the same company for 30 years, reached the age where you could collect your pension and retired to sit on the porch in a rocking chair. OK, while that might not be *exactly* accurate, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that you get in on the ground floor, climb the ladder, at the same place in similar roles with increasing pay for multiple decades and not feel great about what you are doing and then… you retire.
Times are a’changing and you want to do something that fulfills you. You want to love what you do, enjoy work, and leave feeling like you are making a difference in the world. You aren’t willing to just suck it up and keep doing something that is sucking your soul, your energy and your life out of… well, your life.
People are changing jobs, careers, roles and places of employment SO much more these days because they aren’t willing to be complacent any more.
So, you’re tuning in and not feeling super jazzed about what you do, where you do it, or the role you currently play in that organization and I’ve been there. I’ve had jobs that felt like a dream when I first started and turned into a nightmare… I’ve had leadership shifts, staffing changes, increasing demands and schedules that demanded more and more and more until it just wasn’t worth it to me. Those jobs that I’ve left – each one of them has served me. I’ve learned incredible and varied skills that I get to take with me wherever I go.
OK, without further ado, here are three steps to identify why you are dissatisfied and unfulfilled at work, what you can do about it and charting a path for a future full of job satisfaction and fulfillment.
STEP 1 – START WITH WHY
A major piece of this journey to feeling satisfied at work is identifying the source of your Sunday scaries or the dread you feel in your gut when you are headed to work. If you can spend some time asking yourself what has changed (or even what hasn’t changed that maybe you wished had changed) to cause you to feel that feeling that’s bugging you… that’s half the battle.
Figuring out the why is key in identifying what you can do to start to change things.
During this process, ask yourself what you’ve done at work that has made you feel satisfied and happy. When is the last time that, on your commute home, you felt really great?
What are things that you are doing in your role that you don’t love? What things that used to bring you joy are you no longer doing?
Aside from your roles and responsibilities, investigate the structure, your colleagues, your leadership and see if the vibe has changed and ask yourself if that is contributing to your unrest.
Only you can truly answer these questions about your role. This is the part that takes the longest and requires that you take off the blinders and get quiet, listen and observe, and start being honest with yourself.
Life is busy and distracting, so when might you be able to set aside time for introspection, journaling and debriefing? Think about leveraging your commute to create this time.
On your way to work, turn off the radio and don’t press play on your playlist or even your favorite podcast. Tune into how you are feeling – what are you excited about for the day to come? What are you dreading?
Try this on different days and see if you can identify specific days, situations, actions, meetings or requirements that you aren’t loving.
I had this job once where I wore many hats – I would round in the hospital and see patients in the office, then run back to the hospital, I would spend 2 days a week in the Operating Room and at one point I landed myself in my Primary Care Provider’s office complaining of some chest pressure and this panick-y feeling. My awesome PCP did the “full workup” which, for me at the time, included an exercise stress test, you know the ones where you walk on the treadmill hooked up to an EKG and they monitor your heart for any changes while you exercise at increasing rates? Thank goodness the stress test was negative but, after we put our heads together we realized that the chest pressure/pain was happening on days when I knew I would be in the Operating Room with a particular surgeon. We concluded that I didn’t need any further testing or treatment, but what I did need was to work with someone who didn’t stress me out and give me anxiety so much!
Look for patterns. You can do the same thing on your commute home. It’s great to wind down and decompress from the day – but what is really helpful is if you can be incredibly intentional, attentive, and review the day and how you felt throughout it.
Identify things, situations, or specifics that are lingering in your mind from the day before.
Keep a note in your phone or on paper of these feelings, triggers, and situations. Remember, the ultimate goal is to identify the factor or factors that are causing you to feel unfulfilled, stuck, unsettled or dissatisfied.
STEP 2 – IDENTIFY WHAT YOU CAN DO
Ok, so once you figure out the WHY of the fact that you hate your job, the next hurdle is to identify WHAT, if anything, you can do about it.
I say “if anything” on purpose here – because sometimes, there isn’t a way to salvage the situation and build a new culture, change the environment, or carve out a new position for you within your current organization – and that’s OK. I have shared in past episodes about my experience with leaving a job that was no longer serving me, how I came to that conclusion and how to financially prepare for a transition like that.
Endings are necessary for beginnings and not all jobs will last forever and ever, amen. It’s OK if it’s not working out and you want to carve out a space, try something new, change departments or even organizations. That’s a-ok and if that’s the conclusion that you come to, I’m here for it and here to support you!
Alright, so let’s start to get those creative juices flowing about what you CAN do to change things at work.
How can you infuse energy and fulfillment into your days? Do you need to offload things from your current workload? Can you take on new or different roles and responsibilities that are more exciting and fulfilling to you?
Are you feeling unfulfilled because you’ve outgrown your role and you want to be doing more? Look around for opportunities to do that. If there isn’t a specific role posted, can you create one?
A fun fact about me… the job I have now and the job I left to take this one… neither of them existed as a formal job posting. Both were created for me based on key conversations with specific people. The first one was a part of a big organization with a massive HR department, I saw a group that I’d like to work with an I went right to the source – I attended a weekend continuing medical education seminar that they chief of that department was speaking about and, after the presentations were finished, I walked up to that chief and a group of others and said – now who needs a really great PA to join their team doing surgery? Several of them looked at me like I had three heads, but two of them followed up with me and ta-da… the Urology surgery role that I LOVED for many years was born.
The second one was at a much smaller private practice. I had an established relationship with my now primary supervising doctor, as I was working per diem as a contractor helping to cover emergency call for the office, so I was a known entity. I was doing that for over a year before I left my previous job.
The surgeon at the practice where I now work was one of my first phone calls after I resigned – inquiring about a full time position at the office where I now work.
The moral of the story… create your own place. Carve out your own niche using your strengths and abilities. Look for opportunities to use your unique skills, experience and abilities – how can you craft a win-win… a Win for the organization to serve a need and a Win for you… a job where you love what you do and you have great boundaries.
Speaking of boundaries… would those help? When I ask my 1-on-1 Coaching clients about this, 9/10 of them say YES, they need better boundaries with work, with family, with technology, and the list goes on.
So, how could you create some boundaries around what you are willing to do for work, when you are willing to work, when you are able to log on and what work you are “bringing home” with you – literally or figuratively.
There’s leaving for a new position, creating a new position, creating boundaries and shifting your roles and responsibilities… and that, is JUST the beginning.
There are truly limitless possibilities as to how you can improve the culture, the expectations and your specific place within an organization. You deserve to be fulfilled and happy, to feel GREAT about what you do.
Life is too short to hate your job and no one cares about your happiness as much as you, my friend!
STEP 3 – CREATE AND EXECUTE A PLAN
Ok, so here’s the thing, if you really hate your job you are going to need a plan to get the heck out.
It’s not going to happen unless you do it. The third and final step in going from feeling crappy and dissatisfied at work is to create a plan and execute the heck out of that plan.
What are you going to do to start feeling better (this could be personal work, self-care and adding fulfilling activities outside of work, too) about what you do?
And when are you going to do it? Give yourself specific steps and a timeline to execute those steps.
Easier said than done, am I right?
If you are thinking that this would be HARD and you might not be strong enough to enforce those timeline deadlines, or if you would like another set of eyes and ears to take a peek at your current situation there are two ways that I’d love to serve you during this season.
The first is a negotiation consult. We review what your current situation is and I give you real-time feedback on how to approach creating change in your workplace. Whether it’s better boundaries, vying for a new role or starting to create change in the culture of your workplace, this negotiation consult is for you.
The second is with in-depth 1-on-1 Life Coaching. We work together meeting weekly to really delve deeper into this process and start creating a strategic plan for your life – we ask and answer questions like “what’s next?”, identify what you want your life to look like and breakdown the steps to get from where you are… dissatisfied or unfulfilled to where you want to be… 11/10 happy, loving what you do, where you do it and who you serve in that role. Tap the link in the show notes to schedule a time to chat – I’d love to serve you in this way and talk about whether life coaching is right for you.
I want to take this opportunity to remind you that the way you feel, it doesn’t have to be this way. The world is yours to conquer and loving what you do is a big part of that! If you aren’t feeling great about what you do, take some time to figure out why and see what you can do to change it. You’ve got this, momma!
If you haven’t tuned in and learned about that one time I quit my job cold turkey, peep that story here.