Why do I hate my job?
According to Google, “Why do I hate my job?” is a question that is being asked pretty often.
Obviously though, you would not take have taken your job initially unless you thought you were going to like it.
What changes between the initial thrill of getting a job and the conclusion that you have emotionally parted company with your former dream?
Bob Graham describes one of the reasons people feel their job is not a good fit in a poignant children’s book about a multi-talented dog called Buffy.
To cut a short story even shorter, the plot of the book goes like this:
- Buffy is a stage assistant to Brillo the magician, however Brillo finds that the audience cheers louder for Buffy than for himself, so he fires Buffy.
“OUT! and never come back,” cried Brillo.
- With his last coins, Buffy buys a tin of dog food and a tin opener in a supermarket and then jumps aboard a moving freight train heading out into the countryside.
And while he slept, the train continued its rhythm:
and never come back.
and never come back.
- In the morning, Buffy jumps off the train and then goes to try and find a job, however no-one will give Buffy a job because he does not fit into a slot.
Nobody wanted a dancing sheep dog.
Nobody wanted a tiny rope-throwing cattle dog.
Nobody wanted a plate-juggling kitchen dog.
Nobody wanted a guard dog who played the harmonica.
- Eventually Buffy stops in front of a statue, the words on which read “I am me. No more. No less”. Buffy decides that since he does not fit into a “job slot”, the world will have to accept him for who he is.
“Then one day Buffy stopped. He put down his bag, wiped his brow and looked around him.
“I can go no further,” he said.
“I’m not a sheep dog, a cattle dog, a kitchen dog or a guard dog. So what sort of dog am I?”
“I am Buffy! And I will do what I do. And this time, the world shall come to me.”
- Buffy starts busking, and meets Mary Kelly and the musical Kelly family, who acknowledge his unique talents and adopt him.
Now, each night after dinner, the music starts and each night the floorboards shake. Mary’s and Buffy’s feet beat to the rhythm of the jigs and the reels.
And Buffy lives up there, on the hill, to this day.
“Filling a role” versus “Who you are”
As Buffy found out, every job requires a very specific skill set to be applied predictably day after day.
Furthermore, the larger a company is, the more precise each process has to be. Every employee has to become expert in the role and responsibility that has been assigned to them, in order that their function will fit into the operations of the company as a whole. This sort of employment does not leave you with a lot of leeway to develop your personality or to apply the multitude of skills that you were born with.
Subsequently, the answer to “Why do I hate my job?”, is probably because the job is not you!
- You are multi-talented – but your job requires that you focus and refine one specific skill.
- You are innovative – but your job requires that you do exactly the same thing every day
- You like relating to people in different ways – but your job requires that you should always be predictable.
Thinking out of the square
It is perfectly possible, that you will not find a job on a job board that will resonate with the unique skills and the unique personality that identify who you really are. Because of this, some people are leaving standard careers to look for greater versatility.
Rather than define their lives and self-worth in terms of a preordained, often constraining, career track, workers are creating their own patchworks of job experiences to suit their lives.
It is also possible, however, that the risks of breaking with a standard career path do not fit the predictable life that you would really like to have. If so, how can you both find predictability at work, but also fulfillment in your life?
According to the Harvard Business Review, the answer is; “If you want to be happy at work, have a life outside it.”
The bottom line: Satisfaction at work is influenced by factors such as benefits, pay, relationships, and commute length. But all of this boils down to two things being important, regardless of your circumstances: (1) having a life outside of work, and (2) having the money to afford it. If you have a job that grants you both of these, you might be happier than you realize.
If you do have a life outside of work, you will be able to develop and apply the parts of your personality and skills that are not relevant in your job. Leading a full life will enable you to reap the benefits of being happy at work together with financial stability in your non-working life.