When running Building Resilience workshops, I often hear: “I hate my job!” This is quickly followed by: “But I can’t leave!”

That’s a double whammy – really hating your job, but feeling powerless to do anything about it. The only option seems to be to grin and bear it, hoping for something to happen which will improve the situation.

If that’s you, it’s no surprise that you feel stuck and miserable.

If you feel like this, don’t feel alone. The sad reality is that many people don’t like their jobs. In fact, research has shown that only about 13% of people globally enjoy going to work, and 27% are actively disengaged!

Finding a new job these days is really difficult and anyway may have its own problems.

So if changing jobs isn’t an option, what can you do if you really hate your job?

Perhaps the answer lies in what you can do to change the job itself, and the way you relate to the difficulties in your job.

A recent Washington Post article (click here), reports that research found four things about people who love their jobs:

  • they use their strengths every day
  • they feel that they are important and part of the organisation’s future
  • they are surrounded by colleagues who care about their overall well-being
  • they are excited about the future because of a leader’s enthusiasm and vision

Each of these characteristics of people who are engaged in their jobs can become a strategy for changing a job you don’t like:

  1. What are your strengths and how are you using them?

Action: Identify your strengths by taking the free VIA character strengths survey available from the VIA Institute on Character (click here). Then identify where you are using them at present, and congratulate yourself! Then go on to ask yourself how you can use your strengths to push the boundaries of your job to be more effective. It helps to ask yourself questions like:

  • How could I use my strengths to solve the difficulties I am facing?
  • What additional tasks or projects could I do using my strengths?
  • Who is struggling that I could help using my strengths?
  1. How does your job relate to the organisation’s vision and business priorities?

Action: Find out as much as you can about the organisation’s vision and business priorities. Get clear as to what your role is in achieving the results. Ask what more you can do help ensure your Department meet its targets, such as initiating a new project or looking for new ways of doing what you’re doing at the moment or being more efficient.

  1. Who are you spending time with at work?

Action: If you choose to spend your time with happy, positive and optimistic people, you too will “catch” their mood, like one catches the ‘flu bug, through emotional contagion. You may not be able to choose who you sit next to, but you can choose who to have tea and lunch with. If your present set of friends at work don’t serve you well, avoid them and find new ones.

  1. How can you enhance your leaders’ enthusiasm and commitment?

Action: Even leaders get overwhelmed and discouraged from time to time. Ask your leader what excites them about the future of the organisation, what they enjoy about their job, and what you can do to assist them.

You may not be able to leave your job, but with actions like this you can change your job and your attitude to it. You will feel more in control of your job, and you will feel your involvement and commitment will also increase.

Resilience in this context is recovering from a downward emotional spiral, and making changes to improve your situation. With resilience, you are able to become better not bitter; stronger not weaker. Overall, your job will become more meaningful. (click here)

So here’s the challenge: what can you do to change those parts of your job you really don’t like?


Fowler, J. & Christakis, N. (2008). Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study. British Medical Journal, 337.

Hatfield, E., Cacioppo, J.T., & Rapson, R.L. (1993). Emotional contagion. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2, 96-99

Justin Berg, Jane Dutton, Amy Wrzesniewski, Job crafting and meaningful work. In Purpose and meaning in the workplace , edited by B. J. Dik, Z. S. Byrne, M. F. Steger, (2013), 81 – 104