Look around as you board the subway tomorrow morning and you’ll notice that very few people look excited for the workday ahead. If you strike up a conversation with a fellow commuter you’ll likely hear them complain abouthow much they hate their job; their boss; and their long hours.
Why are so many people dissatisfied with their professional lives?
Quora users offered explanations in a
recent thread, “Why do so many people hate their jobs?”
We pulled 17 of the most interesting responses:
You picked a conservative career when you were young and never switched jobs. As a recent college graduate, you probably had no idea what you wanted to do with your life. You probably also had a narrow view of the career options available to you, a strong desire to make money, and an attraction to credentials and pre-defined milestones. As a result, it was easy for you to get stuck in a climb-the-ladder type of career.
After several years of working, you’ll probably feel locked in, or that your job options are limited. Especially if you feel like you are doing well financially, you’ll also perceive high risk in switching careers, and it is likely you can end up doing the same thing for the rest of your life. — Marc Bodnick
You are influenced by extrinsic motivation. Psychological research shows that the fact you are getting paid makes you more likely to dislike your job. It’s called cognitive dissonance: people will evaluate the pleasure they receive from an activity as lower when they are rewarded with material goods like money because it makes the activity seem unpleasant. In other words, the presence of a salary creates a negative motivation, which makes people like the work less than if they were to do it for free. — Bob Hooker
You feel like you are working for the wrong reasons. One of the most common reasons is following money. For example, you might force yourself to go against your nature and attend law school if you really want to be a sculptor. However, the idea is similar to living with someone you dislike: it may be tolerable for a few months, but not for your whole life. — Sergiy Mi
You are not living up to your potential. You feel like you settled for mediocrity and that you are failing yourself, because you know you could do a lot better if you worked in a different profession or pursued your dream job. You also might feel like you are not improving or learning as much as you could from your job. — Hannah Yang
You feel like your job lacks meaning. It goes against our basic human nature to do something for eight hours just to get money. You feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter to you, your coworkers, or to your company. Instead, your efforts feel like busy work just to fill time. You don’t have real motivation to do much, and find yourself quickly losing interest in your job. It is difficult to throw an immense amount of time into a pursuit you don’t care about. — Rod Graham
You feel obligated to work. People hate anything you’re forced to do day after day, month after month, year after year. If someone forced you to do even your most loved hobby for a consistent period of time, you would probably grow to hate it, too. Most people don’t hate their jobs, but rather the fact that they are forced to work — the obligation takes the fun away. — Mihika Kulkarni and Edouard Leurent.
You don’t feel in control. Job satisfaction comes from a sense of autonomy. If you feel disempowered, it probably sucks the energy out of you, even if you are well-paid and educated. Also, when you feel like your work is being judged by how closely it meets someone’s expectations and that you are constantly taking orders, you’ll feel subordinate and grow increasingly frustrated. — Kamal Subhani
You work too much. This type of lifestyle is especially apparent in bankers, lawyers, doctors, and other rigorous professions. The problem isn’t always the work or the clients — rather, it’s overwhelming to be on call 24/7 and to work 6-7 days a week. Everything ends up feeling like high drama. It’s too much for people who want more out of life than just money. — Jason M. Lemkin
You procrastinate on the important things. When you have a big task hanging over your head, you will be uncomfortable until it gets done. If you don’t tackle the worst tasks first, it will be difficult to move on to the more enjoyable aspects of your job. — Lisa Martin
Your job lacks stability. Instead of knowing for sure that years of excellent work will automatically give you a promotion, you have no idea what the future holds. Since your job brings you a constant state of uncertainty, you begin to associate it with negative feelings. It’s very hard for you to work well with the fear of dismissal hanging over your head and without any rules to follow to stop it from happening. — Marcus Geduld
You place a heavy emphasis on work. If work is the only thing your life revolves around, then everything related to work will impact you deeply, whether it’s conflict with your colleagues or lack of a decent salary. Make sure you distinguish between working to live and living to work. — Kiran Farooque
You live too far or too close to your job. If your daily commute is longer than an hour, you’ll spend roughly ⅙ or ⅛ of your day travelling to and from your job. It’s almost as if your commute is a mini job of its own. If you live too close to your job, then it feels like you never leave. — Jon Mixon
You don’t like your boss. A great boss can make you feel great about doing anything, because he/she has your back, looks out for you, and makes the work all worthwhile. But a bad boss easily ruins it. They can make you feel worthless, regardless of your salary, title, and office size. It seems that the US business system is great at creating managers who can look at challenges and come up with solutions. However, it is terrible at creating leaders, or people with strong social skills who can inspire others to do outstanding work. — Drew Henderson
You don’t use your non-work hours effectively. If you don’t have balance in cultivating your personal interests or spending time with family outside of work, you might start to feel extremely unhappy. You should not let your employment define you or what you love, so you should pursue interests outside of the office to remember there is so much more to life. — Lisa Martin
You have higher standards. These days, the way we evaluate jobs has significantly shifted. People hate their jobs because now, more than ever, there’s the possibility to love their jobs — and you don’t. When you expect your work to be fulfilling or as a source of happiness, then it’s much easier for it to be unsatisfactory. Even the media portrays people loving their jobs everywhere around you, and it makes it seem like people who don’t enjoy their jobs are failures. — John Jeffrey Mardlin
You have the wrong mindset. According to Cal Newport, you should try to adopt the craftsman mindset, which asks you to leave behind selfish concerns about whether your job is ideal for you, and instead work at getting really good at one thing. No one owes you a great career — you need to earn it, and the process won’t be easy. If you want to love what you do, abandon the question of, “what can the world offer you?” and instead think, “what can you offer the world?” — RJ Yates
You don’t have perspective. In third world countries, people work extremely hard in physically taxing labour to make minimal wages. Having a relatively easy and cushy job for a middle class income isn’t so hard in comparison. A demanding boss or small office space is nothing compared to the systemic oppression others experience. Perhaps you don’t yet know the value of what you have. — Lisa Martin
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