If there’s one lesson to be learned from 2020, it’s that life is too uncertain to waste time being miserable. When you hate your job, it’s not just a problem during the 8-to-12 hours a day you spend doing it. Your unhappiness at work likely bleeds into everything else. You spend inordinate amounts of time complaining to your friends, you obsess at night, and then spend more than a few hours tossing and turning. Don’t even get me started on the “Sunday Scaries.” Unfortunately, earning a decent living only makes the whole dilemma worse. So how do you change a self-defeating mantra of I hate my job but it pays well? Recognize that you are in control of your future. Then be the change you need.
Make a New Plan, Stan
Do this. On your very next day off, develop a transition strategy. Start with a budget. You need to see where your money is going and how much you really need. What debts are you currently servicing and what will it take to pay them down? If you’re trapped in a self-imposed debtor’s prison, now is the time break free. Can you cut expenses, take in a boarder, sell your car? Are you earning more than is average for your career (or even worse successful in a declining industry)? Nothing puts lead in the loafers like a hard-to-replace paycheck. So before you give up in frustration, be clear-eyed about where your money is going. People don’t just spend more as their earnings rise, unhappy people spend more in hopes of feeling better. No question, escaping from golden handcuffs is never easy. If you believe you lack control at work, you may have taken it back by binge buying. The sadness you feel might be from your perceived lack of control. Purchasing things you enjoy can be 40 times more effective at restoring your sense of control than keeping the plastic in your pocket.
Unfortunately, aside from the ultimate futility of retail therapy, if you’re complaining that I hate my job but it pays well, would you really choose a closet full of clothes over a lower-paying job that brings you joys? So, you’re not just going to spend your day off examining expenditures. You’re going to do a bit of soul searching as well. Maybe you majored in Art History and hate your marketing job. Explore how you can reconnect with your passion. Maybe that means volunteering at the local museum or taking a part-time gig at an auction house. Alternatively, if you earned your degree in a field you considered stable, you might want to ask yourself what you’d really like to do. Your childhood dreams are important. They reflect who you were before other people told you who you had to be. Which leads us to the next step.
Get a Life
Seriously. Before you leave your job, focus on some activity you enjoy. That could be as simple as a tennis lesson or a yoga class. It could be as wild as doing stand-up comedy at open mic nights or working on a short film. After graduating from Harvard Law and earning a consulting job at McKinsey & Company, Lisa Joy divided her time between studying for the bar and polishing a script. When she was asked to join the writing staff at Pushing Daisies, Joy had to show up the next day. She didn’t even have time to give two-weeks notice at McKinsey. Although working TV writers are well-paid, Joy took a pay cut. Today she’s the co-creator of Westworld. Leaving your high-paying job is going to involve some painful sacrifices. Before you start cutting expenses and considering pay cuts, embark on a joyful journey. Delaying this step increases the chance that you’ll quit your job in a huff –– and huffs are notoriously expensive and high maintenance.
Make Sure It’s Not You
At first your job was new and exciting. As with lots of relationships, familiarity has bred contempt. Stop going through the motions. Attempt a renewed interest in your job. Ask for more responsibility. Take the lead on a project. Brainstorm solutions to problems. Discover your boss’s pain points and try to resolve them.
Stop complaining about work at work, stop aimlessly surfing the web, and most of all stop gossiping. Focus. If after serious effort you still hate your job, don’t quit. Instead use it as a networking platform. It will be much easier to get a new job if you’re still employed. Plus, you’ll be a better hire not a bitter former employee.