My email inbox is full of messages from people just like you who hate their jobs.
Earnest folks. Men and women with degrees, professional careers, student loans, and mortgages. Human beings who are frustrated with work and have nowhere left to go except the internet. They google “I hate work” or “I hate HR,” find my blog, and confirmation bias kicks into high gear. They feel like they’ve found a woman who hates work as much as they do.
It’s true. I do hate work.
But all jobs suck. Even the good ones. Don’t email me just to complain. And, if you do, expect a templatized response like this:
An Open Letter to All of You Who Hate Work Too
Hello there. Thanks for reaching out. I’m sorry to hear work is so stressful. I will tell you something you don’t want to hear: All jobs suck. There are highs and lows in every field. Want to feel better about work? Worry less about your career and care more about your life outside of work. Get a few hobbies or rediscover your friends. Gain perspective on what matters to you.
I know you see people on the internet who seem to love their jobs. They are lying. Okay, maybe they’re telling the truth. But they’re happy regardless of the work. And happy is the wrong word to use. Most likely, they are resilient. Happy people fall back on relationships and extra-curricular activities when a job is stressful or unsatisfying.
Do you have a best friend? Something to distract you from a tough day at the office? A creative outlet? No? Well, here’s my advice: Take work less seriously and reprioritize your life. Make a list of three things you would do if you had a day off tomorrow. Take the day off and do one thing. Get greedy and do two things. Or be disruptive and tackle the whole list.
Can’t take the day off? American PTO policies suck! Don’t be a jerk, but work 22% less hard tomorrow. Take a longer lunch or go on an extended Starbucks break. Get balance in your life by grabbing that balance back.
You can do it. I believe in you.
Fix Work by Fixing Yourself First
People hate this response but, years later, they write back and thank me for my pragmatic advice. They know I’m right. Yes, HR sucks. I’m sure your boss is a dick. But don’t quit just yet. Because all jobs suck, even the good ones, and most of us are in a prison of our creation. Time to open the door from the inside and let yourself out.
I’ve written loads about how you can change your relationship with work, but here are some of my best ideas:
- Practice professional detachment
- Be a slacker
- Take a break from work
- Prioritize your wellbeing
- Learn something new
- If all else fails, create a plan to shift your career in a new direction
Unhappy workers who hate their jobs will wind up here with you and everybody else who wasn’t born wealthy and has a job that sucks. This post will serve as a permanent reminder that feelings are temporary and jobs don’t suck forever. It’s possible to step off the treadmill and grab control of life.
The permission slip you’ve been waiting for — to take the day off, care a little less, or quit their jobs — has arrived. And it didn’t come from HR.
Want more help with fixing work for yourself?
My book, Betting on You: How to Put Yourself First and (Finally) Take Control of Your Career is here to help. I have written detailed and actionable ideas for how you can fix work for yourself and stop saying “my job sucks” all the time. Order your copy of Betting on You today.