If You're Having a Hard Time Getting Out of Bed to Go to Work, Read This
The alarm goes off, and your heart is heavy with dread. You hit snooze over and over until you can’t ignore the fact that if you do it one more time, you’ll be late for work. You drag yourself out of bed with all the willpower you can muster, hop in the shower, get dressed, and begin your long commute to a place you’d rather not be. When you arrive at your desk, you wish the weekend were already here—but it’s only Monday.
Sound like you? If you hate your job, you’re not alone. The 2016 Conference Board Job Satisfaction survey found that more than half of Americans are not satisfied with their jobs (which, interestingly enough, is still an 11-year high for job satisfaction rate).
So what do you do when you feel trapped in a job you want to leave? Here are some tips from my own experience. (And yes, there is a happy ending!)
How to Cope When You Hate Your Job, But Can’t Quit (Yet)
Much praise is given to those who quit their jobs. How many movies glorify the moment a fed-up employee gives his boss a piece of his mind before storming out of the office, never to return? But for most people in real life, that’s not an option.
If you’re not in the position to leave your job right now, don’t panic. Here are some tips for coping in a healthy way:
1. Pinpoint exactly what it is you’re unhappy with
Are you sure your job is the problem, or is there something else that’s making you unhappy?
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, related a story about a friend who kept complaining about her job, but it turns out it was really the commute that she hated.
“Once she realized that the problem wasn’t actually the work, the problem was really the commute, she started listening to audiobooks and podcasts on her way to work,” Rubin said. “And she said it dramatically changed her attitude towards her day.”
Rubin admitted not everyone’s job dissatisfaction will be solved so easily, but her point was this: Only when you identify the problem will you be able to find a solution.
2. Communicate with your boss
If you’re unhappy with your work situation, it’s important to communicate with your supervisors in the hopes of improving it. Now, of course, it’s not wise to march up to your boss and yell, “I hate my job!” Try scheduling a meeting with them, and use that time to discuss the things you’d like to improve and offer some solutions.
Maybe you’re bored with the work they’ve given you, or maybe you feel overwhelmed by an unfair workload. Be clear with them about what it is you want, and how it will help your workplace as a whole. If you don’t speak up for yourself, it will be difficult for things to improve.
3. Draw closer to your personal relationships
One of the things that can happen when you’re unhappy with your job (or really in any area of your life) is you may start to push loved ones away. But of all the times you need people, it is now. Call up a friend, dive deep in conversations, and really be present to your loved ones. There’s plenty of research suggesting healthy relationships are key to happiness.
4. Make the most of your nights and weekends
I know it feels like you’re always at work, but the truth is you do have time off, so protect it and use it wisely. If you feel like you’re dragging yourself through drudgery during the workday, that’s all the more reason to make the most of your nights and weekends. Breaking your routine can offer a fresh perspective and a boost that gets you through your workdays.
During the worst of my workplace blues, I incorporated mini adventures into my weekends, traveling to Tahoe during the winter just to play in the snow, or taking the train to San Francisco to explore the city. You can also use your time off to search for another job or build your business so you can earn enough income to leave your current job. It can help lend a sense of purpose to your days while you wait for the right time to pursue another career path.
5. Change your attitude
If you can’t change your situation, the only thing left to do is change your attitude. This one is tough to tackle because it can be hurtful when people say things like, “Just be happy!” when you’re feeling down. However, there is scientific proof that we have control over our attitudes, and small shifts in perspective can reap huge benefits.
Don Joseph Goewey, the author of The End of Stress and an expert on neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to rewire itself), asserts that we can train our brains to be less stressed.
So how do we do that? One thing Goewey suggests is a simple activity you can do every morning that takes only ten minutes, which he calls “Starting the Day in Quiet.” Essentially, you begin your mornings by thinking about what you are grateful for and committing to making the most of your day.
Exercises like this can feel hokey or oversimplistic, but they are backed by science and can work. Goewey is managing partner of ProAttitude, a human performance firm that helps high-pressure companies reduce employees’ stress. Of the more than 4,000 employees they’ve worked with, 93% reported lower stress levels due to what they learned in the trainings.
6. Hope for the Future
Armed with these tips, instead of regarding your days with dread, you can look to the future with hope. Things will change. After weeks of agonizing over the decision, I turned in my two weeks’ notice. That first morning after I left my job, I was so ecstatic I literally ran through a field of grass shouting, “Freedom!”
Just because you hate your job now doesn’t mean you always will. Just because you’re stuck now doesn’t mean you always will be. Maybe it’s easy for me to say all of this because that reality is now years behind me. Or maybe it’s all the more reason you should have hope—because one day, you’ll be able to say the same.