Dreading Going to Work

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dreading going to work

Work is a significant portion of your life. In fact, the average person spends 90,000 hours at work over the course of a lifetime.

And if you find yourself dreading going to work and hating all of the time that you’re spending at doing your job, it can have a significant impact on your overall wellbeing. 

To that end, this article is going to unpack what to do if you find yourself dreading going into work. It’s going to answer related questions around the topic and make a recommendation for how you can take action if you find yourself dreading work or simply not wanting to work at all.

Let’s dive in.

How Many People Dread Going To Work?

numbers

A significant number of people dread going to work. In fact, between 66% and 81% of people say that feel ‘Sunday Night Dread’ about going into work on Monday.

So if you find yourself dreading going to work, know that you are not alone as the majority of people feel at least some form of dread about starting their work week.

Is It Normal to Dread Going to Work?

thinking person

Yes, it is normal to dread going to work. In fact, at least 2/3rd of people say that they feel some level of dread on Sunday night about starting their work week the following morning.

Honestly, that is so unfortunate to me. We spend about a third of our lives at work…90,000+ hours as mentioned in the previous section. And the majority of people dread that time.

My favorite definition of work is from the philosopher Dallas Willard who calls work “the energy that we put forth to produce good”. In my opinion, that’s a beautiful definition that highlights the potential of what work at its best can represent to us.

And somewhere along the way, we’ve fallen short of that. Either by people settling for work that doesn’t bring them to life, by companies not creating environments or missions that actually excite people, or some combination of the two.

If you’re reading this article, I implore you to not settle for work that you dread. Life is too short and work is too much of your time to settle for work that you don’t find meaningful or that brings you to life.

In the next sections, we’ll unpack why you might be dreading going to work and what to do about it.

Why Do I Feel Dread About Going to Work?

thinking person

Most likely, you’re going to work because your job is out of alignment with one of the key factors of job satisfaction.

The book what color is your parachute walks through seven key elements of a job in the famous Flower Exercise within the book.

Ultimately, if one or many of those elements are off for you, then that likely means that you’re not doing your best fit work, which many create a feeling of dread about going into work in the first place.

Here are those seven elements, what they mean, and why they might contribute to you dreading going to work:

1. Your Compatibility With The People

compatibility with people

A hugely important factor in how much you enjoy your work is the extent to which you like being around the people that you work for and with.

You spend a significant amount of time with your colleagues and if you have a toxic boss, or just don’t like the people at the company, then it makes sense that having to spend time around those folks each day is going to contribute a feeling of dread around your work.

2. Your Workplace Conditions

workplace conditions

People are wired differently and some operate better in different contexts than others. For example, you might be an extrovert that thrives in a fast-paced environment. For others, that might overwhelm you and a slower paced work from home role might be your ideal environment.

Whatever your personal preferences and ideal working conditions are, if you’re in a situation where you’re out of line with that, then you may begin to dread going to work.

3. The Skills That You’re Using

skills

Feeling like you suck at your job can be absolutely deflating. It can hurt your confidence and self esteem and, in general, just make your feel down on yourself each day.

So if you find yourself in a job where you’re not using your best and favorite skills, and you’re struggling as a result, then it makes sense that you’re going to dread being in an environment where you can’t contribute to your highest potential.

4. The Purpose Behind Your Work

purpose

A key aspect to living a fulfilling life is feeling like you have a strong purpose and mission that you’re giving yourself to. And that’s a critical aspect to fulfilling work as well.

If you feel like you’re going into work simply because you have to, and you feel no meaning from your work, then it can kind of start to feel like you’re going through the motions.

Work without meaning or purpose can lead to dreading going to work.

5. The Knowledges That You’re Using

thinking person

If you like and are interested in the work that you’re doing, then you’re going to enjoy your work much more.

On the flip side, if you have zero interest in your field of work, even if you’re good at it and using valuable skills, it’s unlikely to be as enjoyable for you.

6. The Money You’re Making

money

While the money that you make is obviously a really important part of your work, I actually find that it’s not one that particularly contributes to your enjoyment of the work itself.

Often times, dread for work fosters from not liking the work itself or not liking the work environment. Making a substantial amount of money can make it worth pushing through those things, but the money itself is generally separate from how much you enjoy the true work that you’re doing.

7. The Location of Your Work

how far is too far to drive to work

Nothing creates dread quite long an excessively long commute to work. Even if you like the work itself, if you find yourself in the car and/or stuck in traffic for hours each day, that would foster dread in anyone.

What Should I Do If I Dread Going to Work?

what should i do with my life

If you dread going to work, then I encourage you not to settle and to go find a work situation that is going to fill you with life.

As previously mentioned, the average person spends over 90,000 hours of their life at work. That’s roughly a third of your time during the working period of your life. That is just too much time to go numb and accept an unfulfilling work life.

So, more practically, what should you do if you’re dreading going to work?

I have a few high level steps for you:

1. Figure Out The Role That You Want Work to Play In Your Life

freedom

Too often, I find that people try to build their lives around their work, rather than fit work into the life that they want to build for themselves.

To that end, the place to start is to make sure that you have a clear vision of the overall life that you want to build for yourself. And then figure out the role that you want work to play in that. 

I walk through how to do that in the “establish a vision” section of our what to do with life article.

2. Figure Out Why Your Current Work Situation Isn’t Working For You

my job is making me miserable

Once you know how you want work to fit into your life, do an honest assessment of why your current work situation isn’t working for you.

To do that, I recommend that you walk through the seven factors of a job presented in the previous section and assess how well those fit into what you want out of work situation and how you want that work situation to fit into your life.

From that, identify problematic areas and what you would ideally want those to look like.

3. Try to Improve or Find a New Work Situation

accepted job offer

Once you know the role that you want work to play in your life, and why your current situation isn’t working for you, it’s now time to take the next steps to improve your situation.

In some cases, you might be able to enjoy work more by negotiating a better situation at your current job. For example, if you find that you’re dreading going to work because your commute is so awful, you may be able to negotiate working some or all of your days remotely. 

If you find that there’s not a way to negotiate an improvement to your current situation, then it’s time to go look for a new role that better aligns with what you want out of work work.

Lastly, if you find that you’re not sure what your overall work path should be, then I recommend that you do some evaluation and experimentation with alternate career paths to try and find what might resonate. 

Steps #2 and #3 in the what to do with life article walk through how to conduct an evaluation and experimentation process.

Conclusion

Dreading going to work can be painful and can sap joy from other areas of your life. 

And work is such a significant portion of your life, that it’s too important to simply settle for something that doesn’t bring you to life.

So if you find that you’re dreading going to work, step back, assess what you really want, attempt to understand why your work isn’t working for you, and then go take action to build the life that you want.

About the author

Dan Slocum

Dan is the founder of Best Fit Work and is a business professional with over 10 years of experience. He has been a hiring and people manager on multiple occasions, and has also gone through the hiring process himself at a variety of different companies. Dan writes to share content, tools, and resources to help people discover and thrive in their own best fit work.

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