Why You Hate Work


Do you hate your job? With popular books like The 4-Hour Workweek and It’s Called Work for a Reason, you probably aren’t alone. Most people will tell you the problem is the job. They say you need to find something your passionate about. The problem isn’t you, it’s the job.

But sometimes it is you. Your distaste for work might come from something other than a job description. In order to love work, you need to change how you deal with it.

Work is a Relationship

When a relationship goes bad, part of the problem might be that it just wasn’t a good match. You weren’t right for each other.

But part of the problem might be how you handle relationships. Jealousy, nagging or commitment issues aren’t usually desirable, no matter what your personality type is. Finding a match is important. But unless you have a healthy attitude and ability to handle relationships, they will never work.

Your relationship with work is the same. Finding the right match, or your passion, is critical. But without getting the right attitude and behaviors towards your work, you’ll always hate it.

Hate From Force

Many people report to hate their jobs, even though they actually feel happier when working. In the book Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi showed research that suggested most people’s leisure time feels empty and boring. At work they are engaged and rate themselves as feeling content. But when asked what they would rather be doing, they want to relax.

Isn’t this insanity? That we’re driven to do what makes us feel worse, and are completely unaware of it?

I believe the reason is because of force. Leisure is optional, work is necessary. Because you choose to relax, that makes you feel happier about it than the work you are forced to do. This is why many people enjoy hobbies but hate work. Both can be equally engaging and challenging, but only one is a choice.

Work is a Choice

How do you remove this unnecessary hate of work. Realize that work is a choice.

Some work might be necessary to buy food and shelter. But unless you are nearing extreme poverty, your income probably covers that several times over. Tuition, clothes, travel, entertainment and cars are all luxuries. Don’t mistake them for the necessities.

If you regard work as a choice, two things happen:

  • You become more aware of your actual level of passion for the job.
  • Any passions you do have can be expressed.

If work is only a choice, you might realize that you absolutely hate your job. As a result, your goal should be to start looking for a new job immediately, even if you need to take a cut in pay.

But what you might realize is that the chains of necessity are depriving you of taking any enjoyment out of a job you might like. If you have the power to choose, then you can appreciate work more. I know many people that got into a career they enjoyed, but feeling forced to work slowly twisted any joy they got from it until they were left with hate.

Building a Work Ethic

Beyond just your attitudes, you need to take a look at how you approach work. If any pressure or difficulty makes you want to jump on a plane to Hawaii, then even a great job will make you miserable. Without a strong work ethic, you can’t get the intrinsic benefits work can offer.

A strong work ethic means you can get satisfaction from working hard and you’ve disciplined yourself to overcome initial frustrations. This work ethic takes practice and skill. Relationships with people won’t work if you lose your temper with the first fight. Similarly, your relationship with work can’t function if you don’t have a work ethic to get you over the hard parts.

I love to write. Although I get paid to do it, I would keep doing it even if it paid me nothing and I was broke.

However, it can usually take ten to fifteen minutes of thinking and tweaking before I settle upon an idea to write about. Sometimes I can write off articles immediately without stopping and other times I can sit at my computer for half an hour, playing with ideas without finding a topic and angle I like.

During these difficult periods, the immediate urge is to give up. But I’ve learned if I can push through momentary creative blocks, the work can be incredibly satisfying. Once you build up a pace, you feel as if nothing can slow you down.

Work can give difficulties in little blocks like these, or major blocks with a manager who can’t meet results with his employees or a programmer who doesn’t know where to start a project. Building a work ethic means you can push through these frustration barriers and actually enjoy the work you do.

Changing the Role of Work

I don’t want to suggest you should stick with a job you hate. I’d never suggest you hang on to a toxic relationship, and the same is true here. But don’t just look for a match. Consider your behaviors and attitudes towards work. Unless you change your perceptions of work and build a work ethic to move through barriers, any job will be painful.

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  • juliathemechanic

    That would be Fred W. Taylor (re: Taylorism). He’s tHe father of scientific management, the one who told factory owners that 12 hour, 6 day per week shifts were inefficient and that they were just wasting their employees time and their money. So you like the 12×6 system better? I’m self-employed and work at least 10×6 if not 10×7. (Pssst! I like Taylor’s idea better!)

  • juliathemechanic

    Not sure why you’ve disliked your jobs in the past, but I chalk it up in my own life to unpleasant, competitive environment, back-stabbing, office politics , screamers, gossipers and the push to work without necessary tools or to meet unrealistic deadlines. It’s never the work per se. So now I work for myself and anything that goes wrong I can only blame on myself. Much nicer way to live.

  • juliathemechanic

    Not sure why you’ve disliked your jobs in the past, but I chalk it up in my own life to unpleasant, competitive environment, back-stabbing, office politics , screamers, gossipers and the push to work without necessary tools or to meet unrealistic deadlines. It’s never the work per se. So now I work for myself and anything that goes wrong I can only blame on myself. Much nicer way to live.

  • Jon Stafford

    What a rich, white, privileged article this is. Work is a choice? For most people work isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity. I work because I have to eat and pay the bills. If it weren’t for that I wouldn’t work at all. Which is not to say that I wouldn’t fill my time, because I would, but it wouldn’t be work. Work is hard. Work is unpleasant. Work is something to be avoided at all costs. Anything that you actually ENJOY doing is, by its very definition, not work. That’s why movie stars are so happy. It’s not because they got bitten by the acting bug, it’s because they make lots of money, don’t have to do anything hard, and everyone kisses their ass. In other words, they don’t have to work.

    Work sucks. And sure, I could change my job, but there is absolutely nothing I am passionate about that could also be a job. Or, at least, not a job that pays the bills. They say find what you love and the money will come. But I like sitting on the couch watching TV, and last I checked they don’t pay people for that. So the author can go back to his privileged little world, where work is a choice and everyone is happy and fulfilled, and fuck himself.

  • Jon Stafford

    The author is a rich, privileged prick who lives in a fantasy world. I don’t know who this advice was supposed to help, but it wasn’t anyone who actually has to work for a living.

  • Jon Stafford

    The 10th Amendment says no such thing.

  • T Hal

    “Work is a choice”? Are you serious? While I found nothing valuable in this article in general, this particular claim strikes me as being so obtuse and blind to the realities most humans live under I’m led to believe this article was meant to be negatively provocative. Most humans work because otherwise they couldn’t stay alive. All the land is owned or so exorbitantly expensive, people can’t acquire it to live off of it. Even the air (wind) has in the US been laid claim to by the State, so people can’t use it to make a living. Water belongs to corporations or the State. The only serious survival alternative for the billions of humans on the planet is wage-slavery–to compete for and work in jobs that pay so little that humans have to spend the bulk of their existence miserably slaving away JUST to earn barely enough to stay alive. And it never ends because even if one is lucky enough to acquire a house and a tiny piece of land, property taxes exist in perpetuity, even as humans age and become too feeble to work.

    Work is most certainly not “a choice,” and anyone who feels otherwise is woefully out of touch with the lives of most of the billions of humans on the planet.

  • The Banana

    I absolutely hate work. All work. I used to hold out hope that if I got my dream job, it’d be all okay, or at least bearable.

    I now have my dream job after years of trying, and no. It isn’t.

    And as for my leisure time feeling empty and me not being content – nope. I am extremely content when not working. I take a long holiday every Christmas, like most of a month, and it’s bliss. It’s the only time of the year I’m truly happy. I found this article because I just had that, am back to work again, and feeling miserable, again.

    Literally the only thing that keeps me going is the fact that I am fundamentally opposed to mooching off of other people – I hate the idea of someone else having to work so I don’t, that isn’t fair at all. Otherwise I’d be a benefit chav for sure.

    The only solution at this time is working part time I think; I worked a four day week job for two years and that was actually alright. Again, I never enjoyed going in to work, but at least I wasn’t miserable all the time.