How to Cope With a Job You Hate

2 minutes

We’ve all been there. We hate our job, but we need money. How to cope with a job you hate, but that pays the bills? Is that even possible?

My worst job so far has been a marketing internship at an accounting firm. I was getting paid $18/hour to stand by a printer all day and make folders. I knew I was overqualified, but I needed to pay off my credit card and save. That only lasted for a month and I remember feeling so relieved when I walked out of the building.

This experience taught me what it’s like to make sacrifices when you need money. I welcomed every Monday like:

how to cope with a job you hate

If you repeatedly find yourself in this situation, you’re not alone. Studies show that nearly 71% of millennials aren’t satisfied with their job and will keep looking until they find the right opportunity. I’ve been one of them.

We all dream of having a job that makes us look forward to Monday. But life happens and sometimes, we have to make choices that solve our short-term problems. Maybe you have to take care of your family or pay your student loans. Whatever the case may be, you sometimes have to do things you don’t enjoy for money – that usually means having jobs you hate.

Many factors contribute to job satisfaction. Beyond your responsibilities and compensation, your colleagues, work environment and growth opportunities are also important. Here’s how to cope with a job you hate, but need to pay your bills:

Find something to look forward to every day

how to cope with a job you hate

When I was at the accounting firm, I’d make plans to catch up with friends over lunch or go to networking events. I’d also get excited to watch House of Cards during my lunch break. These were small moments that made a big difference in my overall attitude. One would see me smile thinking it was for work when it was really about that new restaurant I’d go try out with my friend after.

Create your “yay” moment in each day. When you’re excited about something, you feel more energetic and it makes the workday bearable.

Exercise in the morning

Morning stretch

Even if the first thing you do when you wake up is check your social media profiles, stretch your legs or your upper body while you’re at it.A simple 5-10 minute routine can be all you need to take on the day.

You’ve probably heard this one before, but I can’t stress how much impact exercise has on your mental and physical state. It not only boosts your energy, but the evidence suggests exercise also helps cope with stress at work. Sure, you can check your inbox as soon as you wake up, but don’t underestimate what these 20 push-ups can do.

Network aggressively

how to cope with a job you hate

Whether you found your dream job or are still looking, you should always be networking. It’s not just a means to an end, but a unique opportunity to stay up-to-date with industry news, build lifetime relationships and continue to grow.

How does networking help you cope with a job you hate? It establishes the connections that will enable you to make your next career move. These are the people you’ll be able to reach out to and comfortably ask for leads or job referrals. Given that as many as 80% of jobs aren’t advertised online, it’s all about networking!

Remember your WHY

how to cope with a job you hate

In an earlier post I wrote, “No time is ever wasted on things you do with intention.” I still stand behind this. Whether your current job is helping you feed your family or save for that vacation in Peru, it serves a purpose.

It’s easy to forget why you’re doing something because of the day-to-day hassles, but keeping an eye on the prize will push you to work harder. It’s also important to remember that everything is temporary. Your life will change dramatically in the next few years (or months even) and you will not be stuck in one place unless you choose to. Think long-term. Stay focused. Defend your WHY.

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  1. A great post! I took a job I HATED right out of college just to pay bills. I think those few months were the most socially active I have ever been. I had to make plans every day – happy hour, lunch dates, weekend getaways, just to get through the day. I wish I would have learned how to network more aggressively; I would have saved myself some grief!

    • I can totally relate. I love how you channeled your frustration into some progressive action. Kudos to you Susan! 🙂

    • I know the feeling. It’s good to be aware of your current situation and work towards changing that.

  2. Man, cry me a river with that 4 week job you hated. $18 an hour!? I worked at dead end jobs where I was bullied, sexually harassed, mocked, and talked down to for 3 YEARS — all while making $12/hour. I get your point but most millennial do not have the option to leave after 4 weeks and “boredom” is the least of their worries.

    • I’m sorry you experienced this Maria. Everyone’s situation is different and while I understand there are people who would want that $18/hour job, I’m just saying it wasn’t the right fit for me. And it wasn’t just about boredom; it was an unwelcoming environment with no growth opportunity. Someone else would be okay with that – and that’s fine. To each their own preferences.

      I was using this position as an example of a job I hated, but my point is, we sometimes have to do things we don’t enjoy to pay the bills. But as long as you’re self-aware and you’re conscious of your why, you will always make decisions that will serve you.

  3. Shelcy,

    This is a great article that I wish was written when I was working a job I hated. Now, I am a full-time entrepreneur because I realized the only way I’ll be happy is if I work for myself. I love your tip about finding something to look forward to every day. I think this is so important, no matter where we are in life.

    • Hey Kendra, I totally agree with your point of creating something to look forward to regardless of where you are in life.
      Congratulations on making the leap to entrepreneurship!

  4. Been there, done that. I spent 2 years at a job that slowly took my insanity. When the dentist said that I sleep grind my teeth because of all the stress I knew it was time to leave

    • Yup, sometimes it manifests itself in ways you wouldn’t imagine. Kudos to you for eventually leaving though!

    • I don’t think you’ll easily find a job where all the elements that contribute to your satisfaction are there, but I know befriending your coworkers is a factor that can override everything else.

  5. Shelcy, thanks for sharing this post! I’m a teacher who is dealing with a tough school year, and your tips are definitely helpful. I loved your advice to exercise in the morning and to find something to look forward to every day. Looking forward to putting your suggestions in place!

  6. I agree with you 100%. We may not be able to leave our jobs immediately, but we can find little moments in the day that bring some happiness.

  7. Great post! I really relate with the exercise bit. I’m completely addicted to exercise. Even on my off days, to let my body recover, I’m cranky. For some people it’s morning caffeine. For me it’s morning exercise. The last one hits home, too. It’s so easy to forget to check in and remind ourselves why we’re doing what we do, but it definitely makes staying focused easier when we have the big picture in our sights.

    • You said it all, Victoria! I only recently started exercising every morning and I’m becoming addicted too.
      Glad you like my post 🙂

    • You said it all, Victoria! I recently started doing it every morning and I’m becoming addicted too. Glad you like my post 🙂

  8. I feel like the exception. No matter how pressed I am for money I always find a way to work at a place that makes me happy. No amount of money is worth my unhappiness!

    • That’s a good way to think about it, but the lack of options is usually what adds pressure.

  9. (As I sit at my corporate job) this is everything I needed to hear this morning. How’d you transition from a job you did to get by to a job you love?

    • Hey Karlie, I was actively job searching even after accepting the marketing internship at the accounting firm. I knew I would only be there for a bit and used the stable paychecks to meet some of my short-term financial goals. Do you find it hard to find a job you love? What do you struggle with the most in terms of that?

  10. Thanks for this article Shelcy. The “insta-gratification” world that we live in seems to make it difficult for Millennials. But you’ve given some really good tips here.

    One more I’d like to add is to remember to be grateful. Everyone at some point has had a job they hated. Some (including myself) have gotten bullied while there. Just be grateful to have survived it; grateful that you’re not a bully; grateful that there are other opportunities for another job. Trust me, it helps you to move on and not feel sorry for yourself.

    Ola |

    • I love this!! It’s so important to remember that someone always envies your position, no matter where you are in life. It helps put things in perspective and remain grateful. Thanks for adding that!

  11. It sucks when we have to work at jobs we hate for financial reasons. Finding a positive goal for your day and remembering your WHY is a great place to start.

    • It really does and it’s even harder to motivate yourself to work hard and give it your best.

  12. I remember the frustration of having a job that I hated and I wish I would have read your words back then; it would have saved me a lot of time job hopping and I would have been able to focus on my goals.

    Today, I start with one thing that I like about the job, no matter how small or random and build from there. I used to hate my current job and my boss; today, I love it and look forward to work daily. I’ve been here for more than 12 years now. When I’m having a bad day at work, I always fall back on this practice – listing 5-10 things that I love about my job and it helps to boost my attitude.

    • Wow, 12 years! You’re living the dream. It helps to focus on the positive things. That’s a great tactic I hadn’t thought about. Thanks for sharing Kimberly 🙂

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