You’ve tried different companies. You’ve tried different jobs. Maybe you’ve even tried different career paths entirely.
And, no matter what you try, you simply don’t seem to enjoy it.
Any maybe you’re even in what you would consider to be a good job right now. A good company, a good boss, a good team, but still, you’re finding that you just don’t like your work.
If that’s you, you’re probably thinking “I don’t hate my job, I just hate working”. And that is a difficult spot to be in.
To help you sort through that feeling we’re going to unpack what to do if you simply hate working.
Let’s dive in.
Why Do I Hate My Job Even Though It’s Good
It can be frustrating to be in a job that is, by all measures, a good job but still hate it. Maybe you have a good boss, a good team, the company is doing well, and you might even be fortunate enough to work for a company with a good mission. And, despite all of that, you still find yourself hating it.
There are a variety of reasons that you may hate that job that are likely more tied to the context of your work environment itself, rather than the job. Let’s unpack what a couple of those might be:
The Lack of Freedom in Working a Corporate Job
One of the most common reasons to hate working and/or hate what by all measures would be considered to be a good job is the lack of freedom that comes with corporate work.
When you’re working a corporate job, your normal work day hours are 9 – 5 for five days per week. For many people, even if you like what you do and the company that you do it for, it can feel like you’re shackled by being constrained to working that on that rigid of a schedule.
You might feel like you lack adventure in your life, or lack being able to spend the time with your family that you want when that much of your life is organized around work.
Heck, many people express that they may feel like they’re wasting their entirely life by working a 9-5 .
To that end, you might hate a good job because you hate the lack of freedom that comes with the traditional job and work path.
The Lack of Purpose From Working a Corporate Job
A lack of purpose from working a corporate job is one that I’ve personally struggled with.
I’ve worked for good companies, with good teams, and done work that I enjoyed but, ultimately, it was tough to shake the feeling that the reason that I was doing the work was to help a group of private equity investors generate a return on their investment in 3 – 5 years.
Struggling for meaning in our work is a common problem in today’s work environment. While our work generates an income that’s important to take care of our families, it is often detached from our communities, from some of the meatier problems facing the world and, depending upon the nature of the job, may even be a bit detached from connected directly with the people that the product serves.
As a result, you may not like a good job because of lack of purpose.
Is It Ok To Hate Working?
From my point of view, it is ok to hate the corporate context around work but it’s not ok to hate working entirely.
Here’s what I mean by that.
My favorite definition of work is from the philosopher Dallas Willard, who calls work “the energy that we put forth to produce good”. And if we think of work in that way, as a means to producing good, then it puts a different frame on the concept of what work represents.
So, from my perspective, I think that it’s important that all of us contribute positively to society in some way. That we produce a form of good that is uniquely ours. And to hate the concept of wanting to put any good out into the world at all, I think is problematic.
However, if you’ve realized that attempting to put forth good via the traditional path and corporate environment is something that you hate, then I understand that. I would just call upon you to find a way to put forth good in a way that better suits you.
What To Do If You Just Hate Working?
Building on the previous section, if you just hate the traditional work environment, then it’s time to find a means to produce good that better suits the context in which you would like to do it.
But how do you do that? Here are some high level steps that I would recommend to find a better way to incorporate work into your life if you just hate the current context around your work:
Set a Vision
I believe that finding your best fit work starts with having a vision for the life that you want for yourself. Too often, particularly in America, we start by selecting our work path and then build the rest of our lives around that.
I find that to be backwards. I think it’s important to start with a high level vision that you want of your overall life, and the contribution that you want to make, and then try to find and create work that fits into that.
We have a complete article on how to define a vision for life that walks through how to do that.
Once you have a high level sense of the life that you’d like to build for yourself, it’s then time to think through some work paths that enable you to live out that vision.
One of my favorite tools for doing that is one called Ikigai, which is the Japanese concept of reason for being.
Basically, going through the Ikigai process calls for you to think through what you’re good at, what you like to do, what can make money, and what the world needs. If you can find some options for work that meet in the middle of those things, then those can represent positive potential work paths for you to explore.
Once you have some hypotheses for a few different work paths for you to explore, from there, it’s time to experiment.
Basically, you want to give yourself exposure to a variety of different work paths and contexts to see what resonates and feels good to you.
You do that by placing small bets to give yourself the necessary exposure. That could be things like starting a side hustle, doing some contract projects in your area of interest, volunteering, or doing information interviews.
The point is, you’re gathering as much information as possible, as quickly as possible, in as low a risk of way as possible, to expose you to potential paths.
We have a complete article on career experimentation to walk you through that process.
Lastly, as you’re experimenting on different possible career paths, you want to reflect on the experience and what is resonating with you.
I find writing as the best form of reflection for me personally. So I would encourage you to journal about what you’re learning and experiencing to capture your thoughts and then look back on them after you’re done with your experimentation.
Take a look at our article on journaling to give you a sense of possible ways to journal as you’re reflecting on your experience.
Feeling like you can’t find the right job and that you just hate working is a tough spot to be.
However, work can be a great form of producing good if you can find the right context for it.
So, don’t settle for a work context or environment that works for you and set a vision for the life that you’d like to build for yourself.