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What to Do if You Hate Your Job

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken with a caller on my show who uttered the words, “I hate my job.”

It doesn’t matter how many people I hear that from—it’s heartbreaking every single time.

The unfortunate reality is that 70% of Americans aren’t satisfied with their current work situation.1 It’s no wonder people are desperately searching for answers.

The good news is: There is a way out. You don’t have to stay where you are forever. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life feeling miserable at work, because there is a path to work that matters—to work that is fulfilling and created just for you.

You were created for more than just a mediocre career. So, if this is you today—if you hate your job—I want to walk you through the right way to find a new career that you actually love.

1. Change Your Focus

Before anything else, you have to change your mindset. If you want more for your life and career, you first have to believe that more is out there for you.

Get Everything You Need to Land the Job You Love!

Did you know that your brain will actually search for images that support the things you focus on? In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen writes about the power of focus and the science behind it.

In the book, David introduces us to the reticular activating system in our brain. He writes, “[The reticular activating system] seems to be programmed by what we focus on and, more primarily, what we identify with . . . We notice only what matches our internal belief systems and identified contexts.”

More simply put, this part of your brain determines what you notice and what you ignore. So, if you’re constantly focusing on the negative aspects of your current job, your brain is going to continually show you images that support those negative beliefs.

On the flip side, if you start to focus on the positive aspects of your job, you’ll notice more of the good in your workplace. When we change what we focus on, we change how we act and feel. It’s not the other way around.

So, if the truth is that what you focus on intensifies, what good can you start focusing on in the job you hate? Start with these three areas:

Focus on the experience.

If you have the mindset of a lifelong learner, then you’ll look for ways to learn and grow everywhere you go. That means, no matter how related or unrelated your current job is to your dream job, you’ll find something in your current job to take with you to the next one.

You may hate your job today, but let me ask you: What are you learning there? What experience are you gaining that you can add to your resume? What connections and friendships are you making that can lead to an open door somewhere else?

At the end of the day, no matter where you’re working, you only get out what you put in.

Focus on your stability.

The last thing you need when you’re trying to step into your dream job is to lie awake at night worried about how you’re going to eat or pay rent. When you’re worried about finances, you’ll settle for a mediocre job instead of taking your time to land the dream job.

That’s why I want to encourage you to focus on the stability your current job provides for you. You have a stable paycheck coming in, and that stability allows you to take your time on this search process and wait for the best opportunity.

Is It Time to Quit Your Job?

Take this free Should I Quit My Job Quiz to get the clarity you need to make a confident decision about your next career move.

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Focus on your future.

Along with stability, your current job is funding your future. Because you have a job, you can focus on learning and practicing what you actually want to do to get the experience you need for your dream job.

Use this time to start a side hustle, take a class in the evenings, shadow someone on the weekends, or take industry connections out to coffee. Landing your dream job takes time, perseverance and patience. And when you have a job and a regular income keeping you afloat, you can allow for that.

When you change your mindset to a positive outlook, you’ll be better equipped to start building an exit plan that doesn’t burn any bridges. 

2. Get Your Finances in Order

Remember, your current job is providing stability and funding your future. Use that financial security to stack up some savings. Having this safety net in place will help you make career decisions that are based on what you truly want, not what you need financially.

I recommend having three to six months of living expenses in the bank before you quit your job—especially if you’re quitting before you have another job lined up. But even if you do have another job lined up, it’s still a good idea to have an emergency savings in place in case things at the new job don’t turn out as expected.

3. Brainstorm Your Dream Job

While you’re stacking up those savings, start clarifying and verifying your sweet spot. Your sweet spot is what I call the place where what you do best, what you love to do most and the results that matter most to you intersect.

You can clarify and verify your sweet spot by creating a list of your:

  • Talents: Skills and strengths that you actually enjoy doing.
  • Passions: Activities that make you feel alive and give you energy.
  • Mission: What people you most want to help and what problem you most what to solve.

For example, one of your talents might be writing or coding. But your passion might be working with children or raising awareness for nonprofit organizations.

Look over the list and see if any themes pop up. How can you combine your talents, passions and mission in a professional setting? Do some research to find potential jobs that have a healthy mix.

Take your time with this and include people you love and trust into the conversation so they can provide feedback. These people can not only help point out talents and passions that you may not even realize you have, but they can also help you brainstorm industries and jobs that fit within your sweet spot.

If you need help nailing down your talents, passions and mission try my free Career Clarity Guide. It's a worksheet designed to help nail down your sweet spot so that you can take bold steps towards your dream job. 

4. Start Making Connections

Once you’ve clarified what industry and position you want to go after, you can start practicing the tried and true Proximity Principle. I break this principle down in my bestselling book The Proximity Principle: The Proven Strategy That Will Lead to the Career You Love.

The Proximity Principle says that in order to do what you want to do, you have to be around people who are doing it and be in the places it’s happening. Get around the right people, in the right places, and it will change your life for the better.

There are five people who will be pivotal to your success. Don’t wait for them to show up at your doorstep—seek them out! Those five people are:

  • Professors: Teachers with the skills and experience in the field you want to work in.
  • Professionals: People who are excelling at the highest level in work you’d love to do.
  • Mentors: Those who can guide you and hold you accountable along your career journey.
  • Peers: Your equals (pretty close in economic status and age) who will challenge, inspire and encourage you.
  • Producers: Men and women building businesses, running teams, and making decisions in your industry or field.

Where will you find these five types of people? I’m so glad you asked!

On the journey to landing your dream job, you’ll encounter five places that will be overflowing with those folks. Don’t try to take a shortcut—each place will prepare you for long-term success. Get ready to embrace each of these five places:

  • The place where you are: You don’t need to up and move to another city to get closer to your dream job. Everything you need to get started is right in your very own zip code. No matter where you live, turn over every rock and look for opportunities in unlikely places.
  • A place to learn: If you need to learn a new skill for your dream job, this is the time to make a list of places where you can learn that skill (don’t forget about online courses). Choose the option you can afford and that fits within your desired timeline.
  • A place to practice: Once you’ve learned your new skill in the classroom, it’s time to start executing and getting some experience under your belt. Start volunteering, interning or offering your services as a freelancer. Keep knocking until someone says yes!
  • A place to perform: Once you’ve got some practice under your belt, you can start “performing” and charging for your craft. Look for entry-level positions that will give you real and relevant experience and that will put you in proximity to producers in your field.
  • A place to grow: When you finally make it to this stage, you’re on the hunt for jobs that will push you and challenge you. It’s the kind of place where growth is inevitable because the company has a clear path forward for hungry people like you.

Folks, I know this sounds like a lot. There’s a reason I say landing your dream job takes time, perseverance and patience. But every step of the journey is crucial—don’t try to rush the process.

Create your web of connections in every place you encounter, be intentional about actually building relationships with the people you meet along the way, and seize every opportunity to get one step closer to your dream job.

It’s time to stop wasting your time dwelling on how much you hate your job. Instead, transfer that time and energy into doing whatever it takes to move into a career you love. There is a way out for you.

To help you out, my team and I have developed a free tool: the Should I Quit my Job Quiz. It will offer some clarity before you make this big decision.

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Ken Coleman

About the author

Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman is a career expert and author of the national bestselling book From Paycheck to Purpose and the #1 national bestseller The Proximity Principle. He hosts The Ken Coleman Show, a nationally syndicated, caller-driven show that helps listeners discover what they were born to do. Ken makes regular appearances on Fox News, and he co-hosts The Ramsey Show, the second-largest talk show in the nation with 18 million weekly listeners. Through his speaking, broadcasting and syndicated columns, Ken gives people expert career advice, providing strategic steps to grow professionally, land their dream job, and get promoted. Learn More.

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