I got an email this morning from a reader who hates his job–for good reasons. He included this line:
Now I’m in a job that I utterly despise. I dread every day. I know you will probably say I should be grateful, because so many are unemployed. I’m still morbidly depressed, despite trying to paint a happy face on it.
And, so I want to say to him, and to everyone, you can be grateful you have income and still hate your job, and it’s okay.
Yes, gratitude is important. Be thankful for the paycheck for sure! Be grateful that you can buy the things you need, for sure! But, that doesn’t mean you have to be happy about your situation. In fact, if you focus too much on fixing the situation at work, you may never get out of it.
Being in a bad job is very similar to being in a bad marriage. There is a lot you can do to make it better, but there comes a point where the other person–or the business–needs to make a change or you need to leave.
Right now it’s incredibly difficult to leave unless you want to work for Amazon or Walmart. So, continue to be grateful for your paycheck, but work to get out. You can’t change a company culture on your own–especially as a regular human. Yes, if you’re the new CEO, you can do it. If you’re the marketing manager, forget it.
Giving yourself permission to hate your job does something to you. It reduces the power the company has over you. Now, I’m not saying you should dwell on it, talk about it all the time, and work yourself into a frenzy. Just lower your expectations. To quote Chump Lady (who’s talking about cheating spouses, but it applies here) “trust that they suck.”
Once you trust that they suck, then nothing surprises you, and you don’t get your hopes up.
This is not me telling you to have a fatalistic attitude. It’s me telling you that sometimes your best option is to leave. You can fix minor problems. You can improve your own work ethic, punctuality, or Excel skills. But, if your boss is a flaming narcissist, the CEO screams at people in the hallways, and your coworker is a vicious bully, then trust that they suck.
In the meantime, be grateful for the income, the continuous employment on your resume, and that you have time to find a new job. But, don’t feel obligated to love a place that is horrible to you. Be polite to people, smile if you can, but trust that they suck.