What to Do If You Hate Your Job

What to Do If You Hate Your Job

At Growing Self, we work with career coaching clients in Denver career coaching and online career coaching looking to improve their overall happiness. And finding the right career is an essential part of that happiness journey. Do you struggle with “Sunday Evening Blues?” Do you snooze your alarm fifteen times to postpone the inevitable waking up to another day of stressful/boring/annoying work? Do you feel like you’re screwing up at your job? Do you struggle with office politics? Do you feel like you’re wasting your life? Are you wondering what to do if you hate your job?

If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions — you’re in luck! On this episode of The Love, Happiness and Success podcast we’re talking about what to do if you hate your job (or how to make necessary changes for the better).

In this Episode: What to do If You Hate Your Job…

  • Figure out whether you can make changes with the job you have to make it better (or whether you need to quit and move on),
  • Figure out what your true calling is,
  • Use strategic tests and assignments to understand what type of career you’ll be most happy with,
  • Manage on-the job stress, anxiety, and challenging work relationships,
  • Make a practical plan to start a satisfying new career.

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

What to Do If You Hate Your Job

Free, Expert Advice — For You.

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[The Dead Kennedys – Take This Job and Shove It]

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Wait a minute. This is Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby. And you’re listening to The Love, Happiness, and Success podcast.

Oh yes, I know I’m not the only person in the world doing self-help podcasts. But I might be the only one who plays you vintage Dead Kennedys as a part of that. The Dead Kennedys, of course, covering Johnny Paychecks original, Take This Job and Shove It. And that’s what we’re talking about today is what to do if you hate your job. Do you scream in your boss’s face and walk out the door? That can be a strategy. And there are other things that are probably more productive that you can do if you are feeling super duper dissatisfied in your career. And really wanting to make a change. 

And to help us with this. I am so pleased to be speaking with one of the expert career coaches on my team with Growing Self. Dr. Kristi Helvig. Dr. Kristi has years and years and years of experience. She is licensed as a psychologist, and she’s also a certified coach. One thing that she really specializes in is helping people figure that out, figure out their careers either in, “What do I want to do with my life?” Or, “I know what I want to do, how do I actually make that happen?” Or, “I’m not doing as well as I want to in my current job, but I think it might be because of me. How do I fix that?” 

So we are going to be talking to Dr. Kristi today. And quick intro: if this is your first time listening to the Love, Happiness, and Success podcast, hi! I don’t play the Dead Kennedys for you every time. But I’m also not going to play you Argentinian wood flutes either because I would get bored doing that. So I hope that’s okay. But I’m Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby. What I’m doing here–my background is as a marriage counselor, I’m a life coach. I’m also trained as a psychologist. And the Love, Happiness, and Success podcast is all about helping you create more love, happiness, and success in your life. So how to have better relationships, how to feel happier, as a human. And of course, how to feel more successful in whatever you do, including your career. 

And I am the founder of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching which is based out of Denver, Colorado. If you would like to learn more about me or my practice or to get in touch with me, and tell me what kinds of things you’d like to hear about on the Love, Happiness, and Success podcast. You can look me up on my website, www.growingself.com. You can also sign up for my free happiness class. While you’re there, take the first happiness class, it’s there for you. And get in touch, stay in touch, Twitter, Facebook. Also, if you like this podcast, do me a favor and subscribe to it on iTunes. And if you’re feeling especially generous, leave us a review. Because the more people that subscribe are talking about it and reviewing it, there will be more likely to come up in front of other people. And then they will have the opportunity to be connected with hopefully good information that can help them the way that it’s helped you today. So by subscribing and by leaving a review, it helps make The Love, Happiness, and Success podcast more accessible to others. Okay, enough about me. Let’s talk about what to do if you hate your job. First of all, hello, Dr. Helvig. I’m so excited that you’re with us today. Thanks for being here.

Dr. Kristi: Oh, you’re welcome. I’m happy to be here.

Dr. Lisa: I’m so excited to have you on the show today. Because you know you do so many things beautifully. But one of your biggest strengths, I think is as a career coach. So first of all, why don’t you tell my listeners a little bit more about your professional experience in this area. But also, if you could tell them about your story because I think it’s just so fascinating and is part of what I think makes you so good at what you do. Do you mind sharing?

Dr. Kristi: Oh, thank you. No, not at all. So I’ve had my Ph.D. as a clinical psychologist and I’ve been doing that for about 15 years–over 15 years now. And I started out in some pretty high-intensity jobs. I’ve worked in the jail system. I’ve worked in inpatient hospitals with dangerous offenders. I worked as manager of a lot of adolescent girls units. I was the lead psychologist for the mental health center of Denver. There’s a lot of very high stress, but very rewarding and challenging jobs. And I still felt that even with a Ph.D., that I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be, I wanted to learn even more. And that’s when I had heard about certified coaches. 

And I went back and got trained and certified as a life coach. And from there, I started working more with people who were wanting to make life changes, which I’ve been doing a lot with adolescents. But I wanted to focus more on that area. And especially after having kids of my own, just wanting to step back a little bit from some of the super intense settings where I was working. And really connected with people who were wanting to make changes, either they were working in a corporate world and wanted to try something totally different. Or they wanted to grow in their skills and being better at the job they had. Or work more around stress management, time management skills with what they had. Or some of them wanted to start their own businesses and do something else entirely. 

And one of the things that I also do is I’m a novelist. And I have been writing since I was very young. It was very fun, but it was a hobby. And then again, after having children, I sat down and thought, “I’m gonna do some writing, not thinking anything would come of it.” And now, several years later, I have to publish science fiction books. And I’m working on another book right now. So I always tell people, it is possible to follow your dream and make money at it. And that’s one of the things that I love helping other people do is reach their dreams.

Dr. Lisa: I just think that’s so awesome. I love telling people about this–about you, that you’re this famous science-fiction novelist. But it’s just that–I think, that is so hard for so many people is that they’re torn in different directions. Maybe they have different interests, or they have this little dream that they’ve been nurturing. And I just think it’s so great for them to talk to you as somebody who’s like, “Yeah, you actually can do it all.” That’s amazing.

Dr. Kristi: Absolutely. I think people, too often, our society especially says, you have to spend what you are, you have to be this, or you have to be that. And it’s absolutely possible to pursue different interests and do different things. And so that’s one of the reasons I love helping other people with that–helping them break the rules a little bit.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah, we’re here to break the rules on The Love, Happiness, and Success podcast.  We listen to the Dead Kennedys. So let’s just jump right in. Because, okay, we have a lot of people coming into the practice, and they don’t even know what they want half the time. They just come in, they flop down on the couch, and they say, I hate my job, or feeling so overwhelmed oftentimes. And they don’t know what to do. They don’t know if they should quit. They don’t know if they need a different career. They don’t know what kind of different career they would want. They just know that they are so unhappy. And where do you start with people like these, as a career coach? I mean, somebody just comes in and they’re like, “Ah…” Where do you go?

Dr. Kristi: Yeah. I get that a lot. And I started out asking, what drew them to the job? What do they still like about the job? Because even people that are really unhappy, and even if they come in or knowing they want to change careers or jobs, I still get them to identify what they like about their current job. Because that is a really big clue as to what would be good to incorporate into their next job. So they only look at strengths. I’m very strength-based because a lot of times people do come in and, “This is what I mean… This is what I don’t like.” And then trying to get a sense from there. Is it situational? Is it a job stress or time management issue? Versus, they’re done. And people grow and evolve and sometimes that means within a company and getting promoted and looking for new challenges and responsibilities. And sometimes it means they’ve outgrown the entire field and want to start something new. 

So we start with trying to identify where exactly the issue is, and getting them to sort it out. Do they need more time management tips and stress management for their current job? Versus, do they just need something completely different that incorporates some different, maybe some areas of strength for them that have gone unchecked for a long time.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that that’s good that you help people really figure out what is going on. Because, a lot of times, that, I don’t know if this is true for you, but when I work with people, the actual work itself is fine. But they’re feeling completely stressed out because what they have to do overwhelms their ability to manage it,  just with where they are, in terms of personal productivity. It turns into not just being about the job. But how do you handle this? And once they develop new skills and abilities in that area, they’re good again. Or with other people, it can be the relationships at their job. For a lot of people, it’s office politics. It’s so much more stressful than the career itself. Is that what you found? 

Dr. Kristi: Absolutely. For people too, the work environment itself can be toxic. I tell people, “You can do the best job in the world. But if you have a leadership team, that their philosophy doesn’t fit yours, and it’s very negative or different than yours. Those are situations where the job may be a great fit for you, but the company itself may not be.” Looking at, what do you have the power to change? What do you recognize that you don’t have control over? Therefore, you have to make decisions based on those things. Because you absolutely can improve time management. You can improve how you manage stress. I work with a lot of people who have seasonal stress jobs such as CPAs and things like that. So we work on just managing stress through that time. But then they love their job and get in there fine. Versus, it’s the company itself a more negative environment and looking more at a change of scenery, but staying within the same job type thing? So there’s so many situations that are individual for the person which is why we spend a lot of time, in the beginning, to sort out what is going on, that brings them in there.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. Well, that’s so good just to have help with that. Because changing careers and/or getting a different job, that’s a major life event. You don’t want to do that if you don’t have to. I love it that that’s your approach of like, “Okay, what kind of things can we change to make this better?” Because it is so important. I work with so many poor people, and we spend so much time at our jobs. It’s really, the bulk of your life is spent working. If you’re doing something that you hate, or that is making you ill, it can have far-ranging consequences, I think, just emotionally—

Dr. Kristi: Absolutely. And that’s something I do in corporate trainings. When I talk about stress management, I talk about the effect of stress over time on the body. So you’re absolutely right that if you’re not managing it, whether you’re in a job you like but are just super stressed, versus you can’t stand your job. Either way, the long-term effects of stress are very harmful on the body physically, emotionally, and everything else. So that’s definitely something that we talk about and go over some stress management tips for handling stress, regardless of the work situation.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah. And then you just mentioned, so you do corporate trainings, in addition to working with individuals. But it sounds like employers have you come in and try to help their employees do better. And so stress management is part of that. What else do you do in those kinds of situations?

Dr. Kristi: Sure. So for the trainings, we basically start out with what stress does, why you want to manage it. Because everybody talks about being stressed at work at some point. And I actually tell people off the bat, “Stress is not in itself a bad day, it actually has some positive qualities. It can help you be more productive and do your best work. What you don’t want is long-term chronic stress.” It’s normal to be stressed before if you’re getting up and giving a presentation to your boss. That’s a normal type of stressful situation that you can use to your advantage and give a great presentation. But if you’re talking about long-term stress, or you are just dreading going every day, you’re feeling overwhelmed. We start out by talking about how that can start to impact the body physically as well as emotionally. From there, we talk about a whole range of ways to manage stress. I walk people through a few exercises that they can even do in their office, where their co-workers don’t know they’re doing stress reduction techniques.

Dr. Lisa: Screaming into the well.

Dr. Kristi: We go over breathing, muscle relaxation, different visualization techniques, that sort of thing. I don’t talk about things they can do outside of work to be caring for themselves. We also go over time management skills to make this stress lessen in the workplace as well, and what tips can people use to manage their time better, so that they’re not feeling so overwhelmed and stressed all the time. Then again, looking at what things are outside their control, such as the corporate environment that they’re in, in general, their co-workers, that sort of thing. And really stressing that all you ultimately have control over is how you respond to things. You have no control over how other people are acting. It’s learning to let go of some things that you have no control over.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah. No, that is fabulous advice. I’m sure that’s so helpful to people. And so there’s the other side of it. So you’re saying that a part of this can be remediation. What can you do differently to help yourself feel better and function better in this environment? But what are some things that you hear from people that went in when they’re like, “No, I really, really just need to do something different.” What does that sound like? Or what are some things that you look for that make you think, “You know what? Maybe we just need to cut loose and do something different.”

Dr. Kristi: Well, for one, a lot of times people will just tell me, they’ll tell me that they have, despite trying to “make the best of it”, they dread going into work every day. They are getting sick more physically, that impact of stress has already started impacting them. They’re not as happy anymore, they’re more depressed about the job situation. They’re just finding very little that they still appreciate about the job. They’ll tell me, they’ll say, “It’s sucking the soul out of me.” Things like that. When I hear things like that, that’s more, “Okay. So what do we need to change?” Because if the stress management piece isn’t working, and a lot of times they’ll say, “This isn’t. I did this job.” If I hear things like, “Well, I did this job because I thought it was good money, or my parents thought this would be a good line of work for me to get in.” All those things combined within being really unhappy, to me, it wasn’t a true passion of theirs to begin with. That’s really where we switch on how we’re addressing it. “Okay, so but what is your passion? What could you be doing that you feel like you’ve never gotten the opportunity to do?” Those types of things.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah. As a career coach, what are some of the tools and the things that you use to help people get clear about that? Because I totally agree, for a lot of people, they know that they’re not happy. But they really and genuinely do not know what else to do–what their strengths are, what their interests are. How do you even begin to start helping them uncover that?

Dr. Kristi: Yeah, that’s actually really common. When I have people say, if they come in saying, “I know I don’t want to do this job anymore, but I have no idea what it is I want to do.” Those are actually the most fun for me to work with. Because we start out doing a series of exercises. A lot of times, they’ve been so ingrained with just doing something either because it was stable or secure for the money, that they even lost touch with that part of themselves, that even knows what they used to be passionate about or used to really get excited about. 

So we do a series of exercises. It’s a lot of cognitive behavioral work, and we’ll do exercises to get them tapping into that again. Going from there, we’ll look at what did you come up with as far as passions, and then play around with that. I taught them the whole goal of it is fun. Part of their issue coming in, everything has been so serious and they’ve been so just beaten down by their current job situation, that they’ve lost their sense of fun. Working should also be fun and play. You should be doing something because you get something out of it, not just that you’re getting the check. Although the paycheck is good. But you want to be feeling alive and happy and productive. 

It takes a while sometimes to get people where they’re tapping into that. And from there, the possibilities are endless. So we sort of break things down into steps. So a lot of times people will suddenly say, “Hey!” based on several weeks of homework assignments. Because they do give homework assignments. And people come in and say, “Hey, I realized that this was something that I used to love. And it’s funny because one of the things I have people look at–what did you want to be when you were five years old, when there were no limits? You could be anything. And people were like, “Oh, I can’t be a princess or a mermaid,” or whatever it was they thought, good things happening into that. “You know, what? It was fun about a mermaid.” It could be studying marine life or dolphin training. Get people to tap into what they thought was, “No possibility thing.” And look at, “Okay, so what aspects of it could you talk into?” And go from there, and it’s just so much fun getting people to open their eyes and see like sides of themselves that they probably haven’t seen since they were kids.

Dr. Lisa: That’s so awesome. That has to be so rewarding. Just to help somebody moving from this dejected, like, “I hate my job,” to “I’m gonna be a mermaid.” That’s great. That’s just, they must adore you. It’s wonderful. And then so, helping them dream is a part of it. And then assessments can be part of that, too, sometimes. Well, I guess it probably depends.

Dr. Kristi: Absolutely. Yeah. So one of the things I’m a big fan of is the Myers-Briggs. I’ve taken it myself numerous times. It gives a really good sense of your personality. I also do it for leadership teams, because it’s good in terms of looking at why you may or may not mesh well with a certain supervisor. Sometimes you’ll hear people say, “Oh, we just won’t fit personality-wise.” We want a chance or something behind that. If you look at people’s overall personality structure, some people being more naturally introverted, versus extroverts and that sort of thing. Some assessments can help you tap into your strengths and what you’re good at, especially if maybe you’ve lost touch with some of that. So it’s a nice way to be like, “Okay, what do you think about these results?” And give them a test that has them identify their strengths and how they operate and how they think. And that can give you an idea, as far as certain careers or professions that are super great with those personality characteristics.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah. I love it that you have determined that you and I have compatible personality types. That made me very happy.

Dr. Kristi: It was more validation; I had to look up our types, and I thought, “Oh, that’s so good.” I think assessments can be really helpful, as well as the exercises that I have people to do. And then, going from the dreaming stage, then to, “Oh.” To then, how do you break that down into steps toward actually getting a different job?

Dr. Lisa: My next question for you, so it seems like there’s sort of three phases. Can you remediate it? Yes or no? And then, what do you want to do? But then, there’s like a whole other ballpark, when it comes to how do you actually create this new career that you want. Because people can feel so overwhelmed. “How do I connect with an employer–from resumes, interviewing skills? How do people actually do that?” Where do you go with that? 

Dr. Kristi: So I actually–I customize it for each person. Because some people come in and I know they want a different job, and they know the general field. And then I work differently with that person versus someone who just doesn’t know what they want. Or I have other people that want to start doing business in a different field or similar field. And they don’t know where to start with that. So we–I take the overall goal, and we break it down into steps. And for someone who knows–I have someone now, they know what line of work they want. And they’ve been out of the workforce awhile. So we are working on resume right now. 

It just really depends on where the person is. But I will look at people’s resumes and cover letters. If they’re building their own business, we look at steps for if it’s online. We look at steps for websites and blogs and things like that. So it’s really this tailored, as far as the action steps, for each person’s goal. Whether it’s to work for someone else, work for themselves. Some people want to start a side business to see if it’s a viable option. It keeps their current job. They start something in a totally different area. That’s in the corporate world. They started a whole side fashion business. So I help her go through the steps of getting the logo, getting everything set up, getting the website, and getting that going. So there’s all different approaches based on what somebody is cool with.

Dr. Lisa: Well, just on that note, I have found that there is always a difference between people who want jobs or careers and entrepreneurs. I think there’s something about it that goes back to personality. Have you found there to be an entrepreneurial personality or skill set? How do you help people figure out whether or not their entrepreneurial dreams are realistic? Versus, whether or not they might do better doing that with other people or for another company? Is there an assessment that you do with that?

Dr. Kristi: Sure. Just in speaking with people, sometimes people just are, if they want to have their own business and are entrepreneurial, a lot of times those types of personalities come right out. I want to start my own business, whether it’s on the side in addition to their jobs for now, or they just want to go for it and start their own business. I have some other people that are very clear that they don’t enjoy the running-their-own-business part. They want to find a job that is within another organization or working where they are able to just show up and do the work they love and leave. 

There are those though, that I, I’m thinking of someone recently who thought that because they were more introverted, that that meant they could not be an entrepreneur. We talked about that, and just getting people to look at what are the things you think you would have trouble with? What are the things that you think you would find rewarding? And for some of those people, they realize that they do want to be an entrepreneur. And that some of the things that they thought of as obstacles were things that they could easily work around. So one of the things they do no matter if whether their goal is to be an entrepreneur or to work for someone else. It’s just in terms of identifying their obstacles, everybody has those. Whether it’s lack of time, lack of money, lack of skill set. Whatever they’re perceiving as an obstacle, getting them to work around that and find ways to overcome those obstacles which they would need to do, regardless of what their goal is. When I teach people, “Each time you overcome an obstacle, it gives you more confidence in your ability to then get over that next obstacle, and you get a little more willing to move outside of your comfort zone and take those steps that you might have been scared to take before.” So we do a lot of that as well.

Dr. Lisa: That is fantastic advice. I love it. It sounds like you have such a practical, step-by-step strategy for helping people to figure out what their dreams are. But then also have those dreams come back down to the reality level again, where it’s like, “Okay, well, what is this actually going to look like? What do you need to do? Is this okay or not?” That’s so good because that’s where the action is. Wonderful. So—

Dr. Kristi: Go ahead. 

Dr. Lisa: Oh, no. I was just gonna say, and then, I’m guessing that there would probably be some continued work, I would think as people are transitioning into their new careers. And really developing a different kind of skill set. Is that part of what you do too? Okay, somebody has decided that they want to go be a candlestick maker or, and then encountering, not obstacles. But you never really know what things are going to be like until you start doing it, and having to grow and develop new skills on the job. Is that part of what you do too, or?

Dr. Kristi: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think a lot of times, you don’t know until you get into something what all the obstacles are and challenges. New challenges come up and you had to figure something out. I still feel that way. I know for myself, even as a novelist, all of a sudden, it is not easy to write the next book. There are different challenges that come up with each step. So yes, with each person, and each step they take, they’re gonna find new things that come up. So it’s more helping them through that but also teaching them the skill set to use so that they have confidence that they can handle whatever challenge comes up. 

We keep addressing things as they move into that process and through. And then usually what ends up happening is people will come in for, once they feel good, and they’ve gotten off with their new career. They’ll come in and do periodic check-ins just to say how they’re doing, maybe address some new things that have come up and how they’ve overcome them. But my goal for people ultimately is that they leave with the skill set to handle those challenges and feel like they can do it rather than maybe someone else to do it.

Dr. Lisa: And that is what makes you such a brilliant career coach. That’s awesome, Kristi. Well, your clients must absolutely adore you. Is there other advice or words of wisdom that you would like to share with my listeners around what do you do if you hate your job? Or do you feel that we’ve covered it?

Dr. Kristi: Most people are listening to this is like, “Ha!” Instead of, I think, sometimes people get caught up in the what-should-I-do question. Should I leave my job? Should I look for something else? Should I stay? I would like people listening to, instead of asking, what should I be doing, I want them to ask themselves, “What do I want?” And you go from that question, rather than what should I be doing. I think we’re always too focused on the should and shouldn’t. And instead, focus on what do I want as a person for myself. And it will lead you sometimes to a very different answer than the first question.

Dr. Lisa: No, that is such great advice. And, I think that when people really can follow that–what do I want? Be it a career or their relationships for their personal… But especially I think with the jobs. I believe that, and this is certainly my reality, that you can have a job or a career that doesn’t even feel like work. It just feels like what you were built to do like that. That is honestly how I feel about my career. I think sometimes if people are stuck in that should mindset that doesn’t even occur to them because it all feels like an obligation or a duty. This idea that you can actually do “work that feels like joy.” 

Dr. Kristi: Play! Exactly.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah. I get paid for this? Cool. Oh, that’s wonderful. Okay. Well, I hope that that helps you feel more hopeful if you’ve been feeling bad about your job lately. And words of wisdom from Dr. Kristi Helvig. Kristi, thank you so much. This was excellent. I really appreciate you. 

Dr. Kristi: You’re welcome. Oh, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

[Song: Outro]

Episode Highlights

  • Deciding Whether to Stay or Quit
    • Identify the issue. What’s making you debate quitting your job?
    • Can you do anything to make your situation better? If you can, you might want to try doing that first.
  • Managing On-The-Job Stress
    • It is important to know what effects stress has on you.
    • However, stress is not necessarily bad. For example, the stress you feel prior to a report is normal, and might actually help you do better.
    • What you don’t want is chronic stress, because this will continually take a toll on your health.
    • Dr. Kristi talks about what she does in stress management trainings. 
  • Finding Your True Calling
    • Sometimes, you just aren’t fit for your job, or your company is not a good fit for you.
    • If you’re stressed out all the time, it might be because you’ve lost all sense of fun in your job.
    • Ideally, your job is one that doesn’t feel like a burden, but rather like play.
  • Tests and Assessments
    • Dr. Kristi mentions the Myers-Brigg personality test, and how this gives a good general picture of a person’s personality.
    • These kinds of assessments can be useful in identifying your fit with the company, and possible reasons why you might not mesh well with some co-workers.
  • Moving On to a New Career
    • Sometimes, shifting careers is the answer.
    • You must know what to do next, and how to proceed with it.
    • Dr. Kristi has tailor-fit advice for every individual, depending on their situation and what they find would be problems in the future.

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