We've all had them... those days when you hate your job, hate the work you do, hate the people you work with, hate your commute, etc. They're called the work blahs - and yes, for most of us they're an unavoidable part of our work life. The question is: what should you do about them?
Before you polish up your resume and start looking for a new job, try these practical tactics for beating the work blahs.
Know that work blahs are just part of the cycle
The first thing to do is acknowledge that work blahs are part of the work cycle. Now I'm not saying there aren't jobs that are truly awful, workplaces or bosses you should definitely leave, or times when the work blahs are potential signs of mental health issues. I'm not talking about those cases.
I'm talking about those temporary periods we all go through once in a while, when we're just unhappy in our work. It can be a day, a week, or even a month, when you feel overwhelmed by the negative things about your job, don't see enough of the positives and find yourself saying "I hate my job".
The thing is, it's normal to be up and down about things like work. We all go through phases where we feel down about our work as well as times when we love our jobs. It helps to keep that perspective in mind and know that this time will pass.
There are some who'd even say it's healthy to go through these "negative" phases, because they help us reevaluate what's really important to us, and appreciate the good times when they come.
Focus on the positives
To deal with the work blahs, try a little bit of positive thinking. There is some truth to the old adage that you find what you seek.
In every work situation, there are positives and negatives. When you dwell on the negatives, you tend to see more of them. When you dwell on the positives, you tend to see more of them.
So rather than stew about all the things that are making you hate your job right now, stop and make a list of the positives.
- Maybe you have a really short commute.
- Maybe there are one or two people who really inspire you.
- Maybe the money is helping you pay off your mortgage or save for a trip you've been wanting to take.
- Maybe your job is helping you develop new skills that will help you land that next job.
- Maybe it's just that no one in your office swears or treats you disrespectfully.
There are always positives in any situation. So whenever you start to feel the "I hate my job blues" make a list of 5 things you're grateful for in your job today. It will help you regain your perspective and feel better.
Focus on what you can change
When you start to hate your job and feel a solid case of the work blahs, it's common to fall into the trap of playing the victim. You tend to feel that the problems are all "out there". That kind of thinking often makes you feel powerless.
As a wise woman once told me "the only thing you can really change is yourself". So focus on yourself and what you can do to bring the joy back into your work. Here are some suggestions for how you can do that.
- While you can't change other people or sometimes even the circumstances you're in, you can change your response to them. Rather than get upset or angry, try to just accept them. They are what they are. Instead, look for ways to change the way you respond and feel.
- Save the work you enjoy or that ignites your passion for the end of the day, once you're done the drudge work. Or maybe start the day with it to give yourself a lift.
- Treat yourself to a special cup of coffee or tea once a difficult task or meeting is done.
- Plan a fun activity for Friday evening or the weekend to reward yourself for getting through the week.
- Look for ways you can improve a dreaded process or task and give your suggestions to your manager.
- Wear a favorite outfit to work to lift your mood.
- Bring something beautiful to work to decorate your office/cubicle - a plant, a picture, a nice mug - and take the time to enjoy it.
- Spend time each day with a coworker you like.
- Say thank you to the people you work with and give them feedback about the positive things they do.
- Stop several times a day and smile. The very act of smiling can lift your spirits.
- Think about the things that have made you happy at work in the past, then try to recreate those now.
- Stop and celebrate your accomplishments.
- Inject a bit of humor into your workplace.
Are you feeling better yet?
You've got the power
There's nothing wrong with getting an occasional case of the workplace blues. It's what you do about it that counts.
If you are truly in a "I hate my job" funk, polish up your resume, reignite your network, and start looking for a new opportunity that will rekindle your passion for work.
But it this is just one of those temporary cyclical phases we all go through, acknowledge it for what it is, then take some simple steps to bring the joy back into your job. The power to do it is in your hands.
For more information on how to drive up your motivation and engagement at work, read Employee satisfaction surveys: the ROI of heeding constructive criticism .