What to do when you hate your job (but need it)

So you’re in the trenches in a job that you don’t like (or you even hate!) but the paycheck is nice … and you can’t do without it. What now?

Well, I’m sorry to tell you but when you hate your job but still need the money … you more or less have to just “deal with it”. However, fortunately, you do have some options to at least get your mind off the negativity of the situation and on a more positive/realistic swing:

Step 1: Identify your own role in the situation

The first and most important question to ask when you hate your job is, “How have I contributed to this situation?” The answer is often painful and only comes only after you stifle your initial defensiveness and denial, but might look something like this:

  • “I’ve held a grudge against the organization or a person within the organization, so I’m stuck in conflict.”
  • “I haven’t worked hard enough to understand the perspectives of others, so I feel frustrated often.”
  • “I haven’t performed at the highest level possible so I’m not getting anyway and/or others were chosen above me.”
  • “I haven’t been the best team member so my work relationships are strained.”

And if it’s not one of these, sometimes it’s as simple as, “I allowed myself to settle for a role or education level that’s less than my dream.”

The most important thing to remember is that nobody gets a free pass this first step of self-reflection. You can own up to any aspect you choose, but you can’t 100% blame your situation on the organization or your coworkers. You have to take accountability. (To learn more about accountability, consider reading Reality Based Rules of the Workplace by Cy Wakeman)

Once you know how you’ve contributed to your own circumstances, you can move on to step 2.

Step 2: Take action

Once you know how you’ve contributed to your situation, either leading up to or after realizing you hate your job, you can begin to move forward. The next question to ask yourself is, “What one thing can I do in this moment to improve my circumstances?”

If you’re burned out, angry, and unable to move forward despite any amount of effort, the one thing you can do is probably to begin exploring new career opportunities and taking a new approach the next time around, such as putting in more effort into finding the right company culture while you’re applying to and interviewing at companies.

If you can still be swayed to improving your situation in this current job, your next course of action can range from forgiving somebody who you’ve been holding a grudge with, choosing a positive attitude every day, to taking on a challenging project to demonstrate your value to the company and begin earning that promotion you want.

To learn more about creating change instead of worrying and settling, consider reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle – he’s the best when it comes to improving your perspective and your reality. And then, if you find that you’re able to improve your circumstances, simply commit to continuing. Skip step 3.

Step 3: Do your research

When you hate your job, it’s very likely that you can’t make a big enough difference to make you love it or even enjoy it (some call this total burnout and it’s an ugly beast). If that’s the case, give yourself a clean slate and a new attitude by committing yourself to finding a new opportunity.

But do it right this time by:

  • researching the organization’s culture and core values before you apply. Online employer review platforms give the best insight from real employees, both current and former.
  • not throwing your current employer under the bus when you interview for new positions. When they ask why you’re looking, discuss your career aspirations and desire for personal growth and development.
  • asking the right questions in the interview. What are they looking for in an employee? How do they promote work-life balance? Consider your needs and ask questions specifically about company culture to determine fit.

This article first appeared on Kununu.