What You Can Change in a Job You Hate

Almost one in five of us hates our job.

Over half of us are emotionally checked out of our work. Globally, 87% of workers are more frustrated than fulfilled.

So I know I’m not alone when I say that I hated my job.

That Job Was Just the Worst

I wasn’t even one month in before I knew it was terrible.

One of my previous jobs was the worst; I know you can relate. Everything looks normal on paper, the salary isn’t quite what you want but it’s close enough, and you think to yourself, You know, this will be good to build my experience. It will propel me into a better position soon.

As I’m sure you’ve experienced, too, things are rarely how they seem.

The hours, the pay, the management, the working conditions—it felt more like a war zone than a company. I had moved across the country for the job, away from all my family and friends and everyone I ever knew. And I had signed on an apartment and gotten a feel for life in my new city, but I had already realized the job wasn’t going to pan out well.

I could have run away, packed up and moved back to my hometown, and avoided the uncomfortable risks of uncharted territory. I could have rejected that town and quickly left like several of my friends and coworkers did. But I sensed there was something else at stake for me.

What Do You Have Control Over?

When I came across this excerpt, I knew it was true as soon as I read it.

Billy Ray delivered a keynote speech at the 2012 Academy Nicholl Fellowship awards, “A Warning For Our Next Great Screenwriters.” It applies to you and me, too.

“The truth is there are millions of variables that will profoundly affect your career. Variables over which you have zero control.

You have no control over the state of the economy or over the health of our industry…

The only variable you will ever have any control over is your willingness to work hard. So maximize that variable.”

You don’t need to control everything—you can’t anyway.

Your primary role in work and life is to make the most of what you have. (tweet this)

And to make the most of anything, we need to move from passive to active. A transition from allowing life to happen to us to choosing the course of our own lives.

“Opportunities don’t happen until you take action.” – Ben Arment

Even if you’re still in that terrible job, you can start with something. Use what you have, where you’re at, to get somewhere else.

Our lives are full of variables, and that’s a good thing.

“You can maximize the variables in your life.” – Billy Ray

Let’s get to it.


What’s one way you learned to maximize the variables in a job you hate?


Learn more about my book here: it’s about making the most of our transitions, conflicts, relationships—even terrible jobs—to our advantage, making progress in building a life worth living and sharing with others. Read a sample chapter by signing up for updates.

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