One of the most challenging situations to deal with in your work life is to be in a position where you hate your job, but it pays well. The promise of security is just as capable of bringing stability and peace of mind as stress and suffering.
It is likely that you feel stuck in your job and feel like you are out of options. That is entirely understandable. Perhaps you need the money to support yourself or your family. Perhaps you crave security because it is the first time in your life where you have experienced it.
At the same time, it is essential to realize that it may not be the job itself but your attachment to security that is causing you suffering.
We see this situation quite often in investment banks. People get hired at investment banks right out of college and start making $100,000 a year. That is a lot of money for someone right after college. However, they may find their hours are terrible, the work is uninteresting, and the culture is too intense. They may find that they are surrounded by many "work hard, play hard" types which is not the kind of person they are. They would be more comfortable making less money if it meant living a more peaceful life. However, they get stuck because they make a lot of money.
If you hate your job, but it plays well, check out these five tips.
1. Determine what you hate about your job.
Are the work hours too long? Are you under intense pressure to meet tight deadlines? Is the work mind-numbingly dull? Does it feel like you do the same things every day and aren't growing?
All of these are valid concerns. However, before we can start to treat the issue, we must diagnose it correctly. If you could fix ONLY one of these aspects of your job, which one will it be? The answer to that question will tell you about the part of your job that you like the least. Remember, a good diagnosis precedes good treatment.
2. Understand your thought process.
Now that you've determined which part of your job you hate, the next step is to find out why you hate it.
What is the difference between a person who loves their well-paying job and a person who hates it? It comes down to the reason they got that particular job.
Most of us make decisions based on our desires, not values. We want to make more money. We want to have stability. We want to buy a house and a fantastic car. There's nothing wrong with wanting these things. However, it's crucial to realize why you want them.
Two of the most common sources of motivation are values and desires. Desires are temporary — they come and go. There is also no end to desires. When you satisfy one, another pops up. It is also known as the hedonic treadmill. If you chase desires for long enough, you will realize that another one pops up when one is satisfied. Your mind is never at ease with what you have.
The other source of motivation are our values. Our values are what drive us towards long-term change. Living a life adhering to your values is an excellent source of strength and peace, especially when faced with difficult decisions. This concept is reflected in the eastern concept of Dharma, which is the Sanskrit word for duty or responsibility.
If you want to stay in this job because it pays well, question why the pay is important to you. If it's a question of stability, that's perfectly fine. There's nothing wrong with wanting stability and a strong foundation for your life. In fact, it's quite necessary. However, recognize that your job need not be the source of your happiness. If you have a duty to yourself to have a solid financial foundation, that can be a source of strength to stay in a job you don't like until you are stable.
However, if you find that you can live comfortably off your savings and a different job that pays less but is more enjoyable, then consider the following: are you already stable and secure? If so, why does the extra cash keep you in a situation where you are unhappy? Could the idea of stability be a front for a fear of uncertainty? If so, that's completely fine. However, as the feeling of hate for your job arise, stay aware of its roots. The more awareness you maintain, the faster it will disintegrate. Over time, you will start to become free from this cognitive trap.
The solution is to live a life based on your values, not your desires. That is where you can get the strength to endure a job that gives you stability, as well as quit a job that fuels the fire of greed.
3. Be compassionate towards yourself.
You may catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk such as:
- How dare I hate my job when it pays so well?
- I am so ungrateful for my circumstances. I should be happy.
- The point of a job is to pay the bills - I have no business hating it.
- I should suck it up and soldier on. I should stop being so entitled.
Negative self-talk is a common theme amongst people who find themselves in situations such as yours. We treat ourselves with hate instead of compassion. We compare our situations with other, less fortunate people and then beat ourselves up for being unhappy with our circumstances.
This comparison is primarily a product of our conditioning. Someone likely told you that you should be happy for what you have at some point in your life. Maybe you saw someone complaining about their situation when they appeared well-off, and you thought to yourself, "how ungrateful! If I had what they have, I would never complain."
However, that is not the nature of happiness. True, lasting happiness does not come from material gain, though financial stability builds a strong foundation for achieving it. True happiness comes from accepting the situation for what it is. That includes accepting the negative self-talk itself and not judging yourself for having it. If you fight yourself, you will lose, even if you win.
Suffering does not discriminate based on wealth or any other factor. The one thing every person is entitled to is suffering. Therefore, we need to accept that we can still suffer no matter where we are in life. Let's not exacerbate that suffering by being uncompassionate towards ourselves.
4. Realize that you don't have to quit to be happy.
Imagine a scenario in which you are quitting your current job because you have had enough. Your body and mind are breaking down from the stress. You decided that the job is not worth it, and you handed in your resignation. What do you think that will do to your stress?
Your stress levels will likely take a considerable dip. You will be more carefree. However, that does not necessarily mean that the quality of your work will drop (it can!). You will do the work you need to do and stop caring about your manager or other people's thoughts. You will be wholly involved in your work and be detached from the outcome.
Now for the good part: you don't have to quit to benefit from this mindset! You have to realize that you can quit. If you know that your worst-case scenario is that you'll be forced out of this job that you don't want anyway, you won't have much to worry about daily. If you get fired, you will be intensely motivated to find a job that you like AND pays well.
If you make a lot of money, set aside a bunch of your salary and start going to work with your head held high like a person who knows they have other options. The hours will still suck, the work will still be tedious, but the stress will evaporate.
Remember that your unhappiness arises not from external events but your internal responses to those events. This idea can be powerful for living your life.
5. Leave work at the workplace.
Now for some practical tips. If you find yourself coming home and ruminating on your job, that is probably a significant source of your stress. Home is when you get time away from your work to reset. If you're still checking in on work after coming home, then you are taking time away from yourself to reset.
If you find yourself working compulsively, consider where that comes from. Do you feel inadequate when you aren't productive? Why do you think that is? A lot of successful people become successful because they work compulsively. Their work style is the source of their success as well as their suffering.
Therefore, if you find yourself in a similar situation, then that will need to change. You can consider seeing a therapist to work on thoughts of adequacy and toxic productivity. Alternatively, a Healthy Gamer Coach can help you with that as well. Our coaches are trained by Harvard-trained psychiatrist Dr. Alok Kanojia to help clients work on their thought processes. If you work on these thoughts, your performance will likely improve because you are not being weighed down by stress.
Care about getting the work done, and don't care about much after that. Leave work problems at the office door on your way out and pick them back up the following day if you feel like it.
Additionally, if you do decide to quit your job, don't quit without having another offer in hand. Maintain some stability and don't leave your job based on unknown variables. Find someplace to go to, and then quit.