Do you dread going to work every day? You don’t have to.

Posted May 23, 2018 by


We spend about a third of our adult lives at work. That’s a big slice of your time, but is work more a source of pain or pleasure for you?

According to a recent Gallup poll, about 70% of people surveyed in the United States (compared to 85% worldwide) indicate that they “hate” their jobs. This is a huge waste of time and talent if you are among this very high percentage.

Let’s explore how you can avoid falling into a trap of staying at a job that you dread!

How engaged are you at work? Answer these twelve questions to find out.

Gallup polling, in the survey cited above, asks the participants to answer “True” or “False” to the following twelve statements about how engaged you are at work (which I would define as emotionally and intellectually satisfied or “connected”).

Take the survey yourself! Answer True or False:

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the material and equipment I need to do my work right.
  3. At work, I can do what I do best every day.
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  10. I have a best friend at work.
  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

What do you think after you’ve agreed or disagreed with these statements? Do you think you are meaningfully connected, have a chance to develop your talents and do something you love at work? Or is it unpleasant or even torturous?

Studies show that Millennials and recent college grads are seeking more “meaning” and “purpose” in their jobs than their baby-boomer parents did (Anna Robeton CBS Moneywatch). Do you feel like your job has a higher purpose, such as serving your long-term goals or perhaps serving the world in a meaningful way?

Related: How to thrive in a new job when a bad manager cramps your style

Don’t prolong the agony too much, but don’t leave immediately

If you hate your job at first, give it a tryYou should also give yourself 3 or 4 weeks to get to know some coworkers, ramp up your skills and try to get along with your boss. You may find some allies as friends who make it worth coming to work. You must also give yourself “ramp up” time so that you can learn the skills you don’t have yet on the job. Employers expect this ramp up time so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not perfect on the very first day. Ramp up time can take from 2 weeks to a year, depending on the complexity of the position.

Ramp up time can take from 2 weeks to a year, depending on the complexity of the position.

According to scientists at NASA, it takes about 21 days to make an adjustment to something brand new. They fitted astronauts in a laboratory with a pair of goggles that they had to wear 24 hours a day, which turned everything they looked at upside down. Amazingly, after 21 days all the astronauts’ brains switched the upside down to right side up. If you hate what you’re doing it might just mean that you, too, need to give yourself just a little more time to see your job “right side up”.

You might ask your boss what she or he considers a successful employee in your role, and how you could become that. It’s a great way to get your boss to open and get yourself clear about the expectations of your position. As we saw in the questions on the poll, understanding what’s expected of you is very important to enjoying a job. If you don’t know what’s expected of you, how do you measure your competence, growth and success?

Here’s a script you might use with your boss:

“Do you think you could spare 10 or 15 minutes of your time to talk to me about how I can to the best job in my new position here?”

Most bosses will be happy to hear that!

“I’m just wondering, since I’ve been here such a short time, how could I do my best to help the company (or department) and what would I need to do to become a model employee?”

If you and your boss are still not on the same page after about a month and a heart-to-heart talk with your manager, you’re not enjoying the tasks and responsibilities of the position or you haven’t made any friends who could be allies, it may be time to start thinking about leaving.

Let me warn you not to just quit and walk away. Yet.

In this employment climate, the number one predictor of getting a job is having a job. In other words, you are more likely to be attractive to potential employers if you are currently employed, rather than quitting the unpleasant job and searching for a new one when you’re unemployed. While it may be unfair, Human Resources managers correlate unemployed candidates as having less possibilities of long-term retention.

Related: “Networking: A Definitive Guide for Students and Grads to Succeed in the Job Search”

Although I think you should give your first job at least 3 weeks and stay employed there while searching for a job, you certainly don’t need to stay one more hour in a job that is harassing, unethical, immoral, illegal or abusive! In that case, get out!

Find a job that is the right fit to avoid the same feeling all over again

Find a job that fits before you take a job you hateFirst, before you ever start sending your resume out and filling out applications, let’s make sure that the job itself matches your “natural” personality style and the values. A job that is a good match for your personality and fulfills your values will be the type of job you’re most happy with and the most likely to succeed in.

There are ways to avoid that initial panic before it even takes place.

Find how your personality type matches jobs. For example, you can take the Myers-Briggs type indicator (Try the test they have at You’ll come up with one of sixteen types of personalities represent by a 4-letter score that represents you. Then, look up your 4 letters on Click on the “Careers” tab and read about what your type values in a work setting. Scroll down and click on the titles of any job that interests you. The description of your 4-letter score may sound just like you and the job titles may be extremely interesting to you, but if they don’t, you shouldn’t be alarmed. The job titles you see are merely suggestions and do not mean that you should do that job. You may have some other ideas of jobs you’d like to do.

Research an enormous jobs database and compare your values. The O*NET website is maintained by the US Department of Labor, and has over 70,000 job titles that you can research in depth so you can do some “homework” on the kind of job you DO want to do, before stepping into a disaster! Also on O*NET, you can explore the values that are most important to you. You can rate your most valued items uncover the types of jobs that might fit your values. Maybe you don’t get all your values satisfied, but 2 out of 3 is pretty good!

Research the organizations you’re interested in. Read their careers page online, look at reviews on glassdoor, find people on LinkedIn who work there and see how they describe their work.

Do informational interviews. Reach out to people who are already doing the job you’re targeting and find out what a typical day is like, what skills they use on the job and how they really feel and think about their jobs. Here’s a comprehensive tutorial on how to arrange, conduct and follow-up an informational interview.

The cost of not making a change is high

You must quit a job you hate to avoid high cost of mental healthMaking a career or job change is considered by psychologists to be #2 of the greatest stresses in a lifetime. Be patient with yourself and ask friends and family for support. You may even want to see a professional career counselor or psychotherapist while you’re making this change.

However, not making the change puts your mind and body in a constant state of stress called the “fight or flight” response. This can lead to feeling constant fear and anxiety, depression and fatigue, loss of sleep and being more prone to illness.

Don’t let this happen to you! You are a valuable human being and with a some effort and support, you can find a job you really love that makes Monday mornings something you look forward to!

Who can support you as make a change?

  1. Friends and family. Seek out people who listen well, who do not interrupt or criticize you. They may not have the solution to your problem but they will be able to empathize with your situation so you know that you’re not alone and that your thoughts and emotions are valued. Stay away from people who can’t stop criticizing or giving too much advice.

Stay away from people who can’t stop criticizing or giving too much advice.

  1. Teachers. Do you have a favorite teacher? Someone who sees you in a positive way and who you trust? Those very special teachers can be a great source of comfort and encouragement.
  2. Free career counseling. There are federally-funded Department of Labor American Career Centers in over 33 states. To find one nearest to you, just enter your zip code at Free unlimited visits to trained Career Counselors. You might also go back to your college or university for student or alumni career counseling that most college career centers offer to their current and former students at no cost.
  3. Non-religious free mental health counseling. Many of the 2,631 locations of 164-member organizations of the Catholic Charities organization offer free or very low cost (non-religious) behavioral health services. Catholic Charities has offered free counseling to over 422,000 people in the US.
  4. Religious counseling. Your church, temple, mosque. Talk to a minister, rabbi, priest or spiritual mentor.

Seeking help from a career counselor or mental health counselor does not mean that something is “wrong” with you. Depression and anxiety are two of the most common emotions associated with the stress of career transition and job search and could also be signs that the job you’re in just isn’t a good match for you.

Most of all, you must remember that you deserve happiness and fulfillment. With over 70,000 different types of jobs in the world, you can find one that you love in a company and role that you feel proud of.

Marky SteinAbout Marky Stein: Marky is an expert on interviewing, job seeking, changing careers in mid-life, starting and marketing a new business, new student careers and internships, how to break into nearly “Impossible” occupations and author of 3 bestselling books, with a recent release of “From Freshman to Fortune 500: 7 Secrets to Success for Grads, Undergrads and Career Changers”. She is a vastly experienced radio and television guest as well as college and corporate speaker with over 25 years of experience working in the Fortune 100/500 sector, as well as government, academic and non-profits. Learn more about Marky at

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