It’s become a cliché to hate your job.
Actually, that’s not necessarily true. Recent poll numbers suggest attitudes toward work have shifted:
- In 2010, a Deloitte survey showed 80 percent of Americans hated their jobs.
- In 2013, a national Gallup poll reported that unhappy employees outnumbered happy by a 2-to1 margin.
- By 2016, a Pew statistic revealed a startling finding: only 49 percent of Americans said they are happy with their job.
That’s so surprising that we have to rephrase it:
In the last eight years, there’s been a 30 percent increase in the number of Americans who actually like their jobs.
Top Signs You Hate Your Job
Going to work everyday starting to bum you out? Finding yourself feeling a bit stale? It's not a surprise. Career burnout is real, especially in creative fields.
According to the Mayo Clinic: job burnout is a special type of job stress — a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.
Work Burnout Signs
Think you might be experiencing burnout? Ask the following questions:
- Have you become cynical or critical at work?
- Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
- Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers, or clients?
- Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
- Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
- Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
- Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
- Have your sleep habits or appetite changed?
- Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical complaints?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be experiencing job burnout. Be sure to consult your doctor or a mental health provider. However, reminds the Mayo Clinic, some of these symptoms can also indicate certain health conditions, such as a thyroid disorder or depression.
What You Can Do
If you are experiencing a bit of a career burnout, don’t worry. It’s perfectly normal. Take a little time to yourself, find ways to manage stress, and seek out time with friends and confidants. Sometimes a short vacation is all that’s needed. Once you’re feeling less burned out, a simple career recharge can be all that’s needed to keep you happy and healthy.
First thing to do: don't announce it to everyone! "Keep Your "I Hate My Job" thoughts to yourself" says Alison Doyle on The Balance. "Even if you do hate your job, keep it to yourself and your family or close friends. Don't tell the world, because the wrong person is probably going to see what you posted. Search Twitter for 'I hate my job' to get an idea of what I mean."
How to Recharge Your Career
The easiest way to reverse a burnout or to prevent one in the first place, is to find something outside of work that you are passionate about says Forbes. Find something that’s "challenging, engaging, and really gets you going" — whether a hobby, sports or fitness activities or volunteering in the community.
3 Ideas for Finding a Passion
- Take a Class
Unplug, even if it's just for an hour-long class. "While communication technology can promote productivity, it can also allow work stressors to seep into family time, vacation, and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email," says Forbes.
Want to feel creative? Take a painting class with your BFF. Need to take time for exercise? Join a cycling club or schedule a 5K. Looking to work on a new skill? Find an immersion class on photography, coding, or writing. No matter what class you join, find one that makes you forget the time and enjoy yourself. Need a place to start? Check out Dabble or General Assembly.
- Find a Side Gig/Passion Project/Hobby
"Nothing beats a hobby, especially a creative one because it acts as a powerful antidote to burnout," says The Guardian. "Take up something new, like painting or knitting, to give your mind a rest, and make sure you choose an activity that is completely unrelated to your profession." It's totally okay to have a side project in addition to your 9 to 5.
Think back to what you enjoyed doing when you were younger. Building things? Playing musical instruments? Collecting or traveling? Why not start an Instagram page or Etsy shop? Already have one? Consider making some money with that side hustle.
Similar to the benefits of having a hobby, volunteering can make you feel better. The Atlantic reports people who volunteer lead longer, healthier lives. "Some public-health experts believe the time has come for doctors to recommend it alongside diet and exercise," James Hamblin writes. Pick a cause that is close to your heart and allows you to get involved easily. Maybe it's at a museum or animal shelter. You can even offer up budding skills like web design to small non-profits in your neighborhood.
Why volunteer? PBS Kids reminds us: Volunteering is good for YOU!
"What's in it for me?" The answer is: plenty! Here are some of the things you might get in return for your giving: making new friends, gaining important skills and experience that will help you later in life, seeing more of your community and world, building confidence and self-esteem, and so much more.
No matter what you choose, recharge your batteries and take time to take care of yourself.
Improving Your Love/Hate Job Relationship
If you've taken a bit of a break and still don't feel happy clocking in, try one of these small changes.
Make Your Space More Inspirational
- Change the Lighting
How you see is just as important as what you see. Try full-spectrum lighting instead of basking in the glow of overhead fluorescents. If your work space doesn’t allow ample light and you work in a city that experiences the full effects of winter’s gloom, consider lightening the mood. Discover the lighting that works best for you, whether it’s twinkly holiday bulbs all year long or a $20 desk lamp.
- Add On Motivation
Pick an office space that motivates. This may mean adding cool art to your walls. Or, motivation may mean getting organized by adding the efficiency of a bulletin board or whiteboard. Would you find it more motivating to stare at a list of deadlines and tasks, or would you prefer a nice Monet print?
Maybe you do your best work when there is a complete absence of clutter — and art on the walls may be more distracting than inspiring. Changing your attitude may be as simple as changing what you look at every day. Try removing unnecessary objects from your desk and space by grabbing some chic storage boxes or new containers for pens.
- Add a Screen
Would your efficiency improve with the addition of another computer monitor? Would two — or three or four —monitors improve your ability to multitask? Aside from looking like the deck of the Starship Enterprise, would multiple computer screens improve your functionality on the job you’re doing? Or, would adopting the look of a serious computer geek simply make you a happier person? It just might.
- Make Things Prettier
Remember, this work space makeover is uniquely personal, so “pretty” could mean adding a plant, a funny bobblehead, or a motivational plaque depending on your personality. If you replace the word “pretty” with “comfortable” or “welcoming,” you might start to understand what we’re going for. It could mean pink highlights — or it could require displaying a stuffed deer head on your wall. Could a not-so-subtle DE motivational poster be exactly what you need to start your day in a good mood? Your call.
The Next Thing to Try: Talk it Out
- Talk to Yourself
Assess your situation and ask yourself some hard questions about your current situation. Is it your role you hate? Your employer? That one annoying office mate? Make a pros and cons list and know that while not super actionable, knowing the reasons you're unhappy will help you narrow your focus.
- Talk to Your Boss
I.e.: Have the Tough Conversations
"Once you’ve identified what exactly is inspiring your distaste for your position, it’s time to have those difficult conversations with the powers that be" says Boogaard. Is your workload too overwhelming? Are you underpaid? Is a co-worker not pulling their weight on group projects? Talk these out with your supervisor to see if there are any adjustments that can be made. Basically, speak up if something is making you unhappy.
- Talk to a Friend
While it's definitely not advisable to rant on social media about your job, a little bit of venting can be good, as long as you're talking to a trusted friend. "I know, complaining doesn’t necessarily fix anything, says Boogaard, "but, you’ll likely be surprised at how much better you feel after unloading all of those feelings and frustrations."
Not feeling any better? Toughing it out and it's still taking a toll on you? Then it might be time to move on.
Get Help and a New Job
If you've tried all of the above and are still dreading going to work, it's probably time to move on. Let that sink in. It’s a big realization - you don’t have to hate your job. We’ve entered an era of rapid technology-driven change. Optimism and flexibility come with knowing you have the power to rewrite your resume by improving your job skills.
Are you ready for a new job?
The job market is different now, and the same skills that helped you land that full-time job in 2008 are not going to cut it in the world of the gig economy.
Here are two big trends shaping the new work reality:
- Flexible Job Arrangements
Flex jobs and flexible job arrangements mean you don’t have to be stuck in a 9-to-5 grind. During the 2007 housing market crash, more than 8 million Americans lost their jobs, and a national recession changed the way we work – probably forever. The recession killed off a lot of the baby boomer-era traditional jobs. Many of those 40-hour-a-week gigs with pensions and benefits disappeared.
Instead, they’ve been replaced by freelance or flexible work arrangements. More than 55 million Americans now make their living as freelancers. That means one in three of the people around you are like mini-entrepreneurs; they work when they want at what they want — and, according to the poll numbers, they like it. Read more about the state of freelancing here.
- Tech = New Opportunities
Technology has been the biggest disruptor to come along in the American job market in the past 30 years. We’re in the new knowledge era, and jobs that focus on digital tech, including communications and social media, have grown exponentially. Millions of us are retraining with new skills. There are hundreds of options, from boot camps to low-cost or free classes, from Meet-Ups and Lynda.com to even Harvard and MIT. More than 54 percent of adult workers believe they must continue to improve their skills.
Bottom line: if you’re stuck in a job you hate, the way out, these days, is to learn a new skill.
Adding New Skills to Your Repertoire
If you're looking to add some skills to that resume section, here are the top creative skills that will be essential in creative jobs going forward.
- UX, UI, Social Skills, and More
Diversifying your skill set will always set you apart. The ability to work in a multidisciplinary environment is going to be a future necessity. This may require going back to school to learn UX (user experience) or adding some Google Analytics into your repertoire.
The creative jobs of the future are going to require a multi-skill approach. Being an expert at one thing will no longer be enough, and flexibility will only make you more valuable.
- Learning to Sell
Understanding sales is going to be increasingly important in the coming decade. Designing something eye-catching in a vacuum won’t work — companies are increasingly pressured to use design to differentiate their products in a sales marketplace. Creative design will have more of a strategic emphasis — and that focus will be on creating art that sells.
Understanding the sales cycle and what motivates your target audience will undoubtedly change how you design or write a website, logo, or ad. In the future, linking design with business development will position your career for success.
- Understanding People
Study psychology and sociology to help understand the reaction of people to products, especially in the age of artificial intelligence(AI). Technology is moving toward objects that interact with people, such as Apple’s Siri software. These interactions will become even more sophisticated in the future, allowing humans to feel as if they are conversing with a real person. Having the skills to work with Software Developers to create an effective front-end experience will take an understanding of human behavior.
- Understanding Machines
Speaking of AI, future predictors suggest it is going to impact creative design. Digital design in the coming years will encompass sites that are not static, but interactive and more personalized than ever before. Understanding how to maximize data will form the basis of all creative design work. Designers of the future need to understand how algorithms affect data and how AI affects the end product.
Want to learn more about AI and how it relates to future jobs? Check out this slideshare!
- Learning to Code
Designers are sometimes resistant to the fact that coding skills and experience are going to be important in the future. Especially with the advent of AI, Creative Designers should at least understand algorithms and, at a minimum, HTML.
When It's Time to Move On
Not feeling any better? If you’re truly stuck in a job you hate, and have uttered "I hate my job" more than once, the stats above are proof of the new employment reality – people just like you have been changing their lives by changing their jobs...and you can, too.
Artisan Talent is at the forefront of this new, gig economy, optimistic job market. We change lives by finding the best creative talent and matching them with jobs they love. Looking for a new job? Click the button below and see who we're hiring right now, or submit your resume here and we'll see if we have a fit for you.