THE BLOG

What to Do if You Hate Your Job

04/23/2015 07:55 pm ET | Updated Jun 23, 2015
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Hate your job? Your boss? Your co-workers? Imagine that you continue working at your current job for another six months... or six years... or the rest of your career.

How's that going to make you feel?

Have you considered what price you'll pay physically, mentally, even financially, if you don't take action to improve your work life? Real results require real actions -- yours.

If you're spending 40 hours (or more) per week around people you dislike or doing something that bores, annoys or overwhelms you, you have to stop and ask one big question: Why?

Why would you do this to yourself?

Why are you putting yourself through this?

Yes, you need to eat. You have bills and perhaps creditors or kids (which are another form of creditors!) But no matter how many lifetimes you think you might have ahead, all you know for sure is you've got this one today... and a major part of it isn't working.

So, what do you do?

  1. Get brave and get moving.
  2. Investigate alternatives.
  3. Ask yourself if there's anything in your current role that you can change that would make it not tolerable, but terrific to be there.
  4. Find out what it would really require to switch jobs -- retraining? more school? A move far away? Courage?
  5. Get really specific details. Write them down.
  6. Talk to someone who works for your dream company or who has your dream job. Ask questions.
  7. Imagine yourself getting up every day to go work in that place or to do that task. What would that feel like?
  8. What would be the first step, assuming money was no object?
  9. Get committed to improving your life. If you don't, who will?

If your main problem is that you think you're worth more wages, figure out if you are performing your current job to the best of your abilities. If not, get crackin'!

If your main problem is the work is boring, do a little dance! It means you've outgrown the work and it's time for a fresh challenge.

If your biggest problem is money, learn how to manage it. Read a book, take a webinar or hire a consultant.

If you biggest problem is you think you're trapped, scrounge around the internet or a bookstore and read inspiring stories of people who switched careers with kids in tow; after age 55; without degrees; moved to other countries. If they can, why can't you?

You've probably heard, "Where there's a will, there's a way." The worst thing you can do to yourself is count the years until your retirement and say, "Well, I think I can hold on that long." No! I suspect that's why some people kick the bucket right after they retire -- it's because they spent so long being miserable, freedom shocks them to death.

A friend of mine is a motivational speaker. After a speech, a woman once told him, "I'd really like to live my dream career, but it would take me three years to finish the degree I need. I'd be so old!" To which my friend replied, "OK, so how much older would you be in three years if you don't go back to college?"

Figure out a game plan and work it every day, even if it's just one little night class a semester for the foreseeable future. Even if it requires saving a little money every month so you have a transition cushion. Taking baby steps is better than sitting there being unhappy for years.

Remember these words from Goethe: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

Start now. Start today. Plan your escape. Only you hold the key.