'I Hate My Job': How to Cope When You Feel This Way

young businesswoman looking stressed out while working in an office
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If you hate your job, you’re not alone. According to a 2022 Gallup report on the global workplace, just 21% of employees feel engaged at work while the rest feel emotionally detached (60%) or downright miserable (19%). With the average person spending 81,396 hours of their life at work, that kind of dissatisfaction can have a ripple effect across the rest of your life.

Chronic job dissatisfaction has been linked to a weakened immune system, lower self-esteem, higher rates of depression and anxiety, and increased strain in workers’ home life and personal relationships.

So if you constantly find yourself saying "I hate my job," you’re right to be looking for solutions. Even if you can’t get out right away, you can work on setting boundaries to limit the stress it’s causing you while also taking steps toward finding a job that allows you to thrive.

Is It Normal to Absolutely Hate Your Job?

As the Gallup report mentioned earlier shows, it is definitely normal to hate your job. The same report noted that nearly half of employees worldwide feel stressed at work while 40% feel worried and 23% feel angry. This shows that, unfortunately, a lot of people aren’t very happy with their job, and a sizable minority are deeply unhappy with where they work.

Is It OK to Quit a Job You Hate?

It absolutely is ok to quit a job you hate, no matter what your reasons are. With that said, your job is likely your main source of income and, as the widespread prevalence of job dissatisfaction shows, there are lots of bad jobs out there. You need to make sure you avoid quitting one bad job just to end up in another job you hate. So before you take the leap, answer the following two questions before you do:

  1. How will you pay your bills without this job? Do you have savings to fall back on? Do you have another job lined up? Do you have family or friends who would support you while you’re in between jobs?
  2. What specifically are your reasons for quitting? Whether it’s the workplace environment or the work itself, you want to understand why you hate your job as clearly as possible so that you know what red flags to look for while hunting for another job.

How Long Should I Stay at a Job if I Hate It?

This really depends on your circumstances. If you feel unsafe or that staying would harm your physical or mental health, quitting immediately is likely the right call. But if your dissatisfaction with the job isn’t an immediate threat to your wellbeing, it might make sense to keep working while you figure out your plans for the future.

Staying at the job allows you to continue earning money and avoid a gap in your resume, which can be important advantages if you don’t have savings or family to fall back on or you’re not sure what other job you’ll find.

Rather than putting a time limit on the job itself, make a plan for getting a better job, estimate how long that will take, and use that as your timeline. If you want to find a similar job, commit to a consistent job hunting schedule to try to get something better as soon as possible. If you’re considering a career change, for example, you might need months or more of education or training.

What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Can't Quit

Most people aren’t really in a position to quit a job, no matter how much they hate it. As stressful as that can be, there are ways to cope and ways to work toward something better even while you feel stuck where you are. Here are some strategies to try:

Create Your Exit Strategy

You may not be able to quit right now, but that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to spending the rest of your life at a job you hate. No matter how hopeless it might seem right now, it’s always worth planning your exit. Doing this will not only help you get a better job, it also helps you cope with the bad job you’re in now. Knowing that an end is in sight can give you the strength to endure.

Your plan might include steps like:

  • Identify your target income by creating your ideal lifestyle budget. This is the hypothetical budget that allows you to pay your bills, get out of debt, and pay for anything else you might want like a new house, a family, or enough disposable income to travel the world.
  • List the traits of your ideal job. Don’t think in terms of a “dream job.” Instead, think about the more practical qualities of the job like flexible scheduling, better work-life balance, or a collaborative work environment. Also, add the kind of work it would entail. Do you prefer digging into the details or managing the big picture? Do you prefer active or physical work over sitting behind a desk?
  • List your strengths and weaknesses. What kind of work comes easily to you? And what kind feels especially difficult? Use this to guide you toward the kinds of jobs you should look for.
  • Decide what you’re willing and able to do for a new job opportunity. Can you relocate? How far? Do you have the means to go back to school if necessary? Are you willing to accept a lower-level position than your current one for the chance to work your way up to the job you want?
  • Pursue certifications, education, or training that can help you land a job that matches your criteria.
  • Talk to people doing the job you’d like to do.
  • Send out applications, even if you feel underqualified.

Break your plan down into daily or weekly milestones so that you’re always working toward that better future.

Stick to Your Job Description

There’s a lot of pressure in our work culture to go above and beyond your job description. That feeling like you have to take on extra responsibilities or stay late can be a major factor in job dissatisfaction, especially if your paycheck doesn’t match that extra effort you’re putting in.

If this sounds familiar, try to start setting boundaries at work to keep your workload and stress at more manageable levels. Here are some tips to actually enforce stricter boundaries around your job:

  • Don’t answer work calls or emails outside of work hours.
  • Don’t volunteer for tasks, even if you feel like it’s expected of you.
  • Embrace being “good enough” at work. Don’t turn in bad work, but avoid perfectionism or the pressure to exceed expectations. Just get the job done and move on to the next task.
  • Wear headphones or turn on your away message to signal to coworkers that you’re in deep work mode and unavailable to assist with other tasks.
  • Take lunch and other breaks somewhere where you can’t be interrupted or asked to do any work-related tasks.
  • Use your time off, and don’t be reachable while you’re gone.

Make Time Outside of Work for Joy and Purpose

When you have to endure a job you hate, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re finding ways to enjoy life outside of work. Even if you feel too exhausted to do anything but watch TV, try to incorporate some more rewarding activities into your free time.

Play with your dog. Go for a walk. Sit at a café and draw the people or things you see. Eat dinner in your backyard when it’s nice out. Do volunteer work on weekends. Take a cooking class. Bad jobs can drain your energy and make you feel like your life lacks any joy or meaning. But you can use your free time to inject some of that joy and meaning back into your life.

Vent Your Feelings Regularly

You might feel like complaining about the same bad job day after day is a burden on your loved ones. But being able to just say the things out loud that you maybe had to hold in for the sake of keeping the peace at work can help you decompress.

Tell your friend or partner that you’re not looking for advice or solutions. You just need to complain for a bit to let it out. Make sure you’re offering to be the sympathetic listener when they need to vent, too. You might even turn it into a weekly ritual. Every weekend, go for a hike or head to your favorite bar with your friend and take turns venting whatever you need to vent from the week prior.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report. Gallup; 2022.

  2. Extremera N, Mérida-López S, Quintana-Orts C, Rey L. On the association between job dissatisfaction and employee’s mental health problems: Does emotional regulation ability buffer the link? Personality and Individual Differences. 2020;155:109710. Doi:10.1016/j.paid.2019.109710

By Rachael Green
Rachael is a New York-based writer and freelance writer for Verywell Mind, where she leverages her decades of personal experience with and research on mental illness—particularly ADHD and depression—to help readers better understand how their mind works and how to manage their mental health.