Every job comes with rough patches. Maybe your awesome boss leaves, and you have to adjust to a new manager. Perhaps business starts booming, which is good news—but the side effect is that you’re required to put in extra hours and meet tougher deadlines. Or maybe you take on a new role and have to learn a lot of new skills in a hurry in order to get up to speed.
There are a lot of situations in which your job gets harder, but not necessarily worse. And then there are the times when you just flat-out hate your job. Being able to tell the difference is important.
Here are warning signs that can indicate that it's more than a challenging time at work and you really do hate your job, and tips for deciding whether to stay and when to move on.
Warning Signs You Hate Your Job
So how do you know when you really, truly hate your job? Look for these signs.
1. You Have the Sunday Night Blues—Every Night of the Week
Even when you’re working at your dream job, and love almost everything about what you do, Sunday nights are rough. It’s normal to feel a little twinge of regret as the weekend draws to a close and your Monday-morning to-do list looms. But when those Sunday Night What-Ifs become an every-night occurrence, it’s a good bet that your job is the problem.
2. You Have a Lot of New Physical Ailments
Do you have aches and pains that weren’t there a few months ago? Are you having trouble sleeping? Has your appetite changed? These are all physical symptoms of depression. That doesn’t mean that your job is to blame, of course, but if everything else in your life is the same and your job has changed, it’s worth asking whether work is the problem. (And in any case, it’s essential to get evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible.)
3. You’re Not Excited About Your Job Anymore
Every day at work doesn’t have to feel like a party, but if you’re never excited about your job, something’s wrong. You work for many reasons—to keep a roof over your head, to use your skills and talents, perhaps to help others or achieve things most people can’t. But without some sense of purpose and passion for work, you’ll burn out in a hurry.
4. You’re Not as Good at Your Job as You Used to Be
Maybe you’re making little mistakes that you ordinarily would never make, or maybe you’re less engaged with your work and therefore less effective. But if you feel like you’re not good at your job—and you used to be confident that you were!—you might consider whether it’s time for a change.
5. You Spend a Lot of Time Venting About Work
A little griping about work never hurt anyone. (Provided that you’re doing your complaining to a trusted friend, not a coworker who might be your boss someday.) But if you’re spending a lot of your time venting about your job, consider whether the good still outweighs the bad.
6. You Find It Harder to Concentrate
Obviously, it’s easier to give something your full attention when you’re engaged with it. Beyond that, hating your job takes a lot of energy. If you loathe your work right now, you probably don’t have a lot of energy left over for your actual duties.
7. Your Vices Have Multiplied
Cookies are no longer your sometimes treat. Comfort food is on the menu three times a day. And cocktail hour has become a cocktail evening and night. Meanwhile, you aren’t getting much exercise these days, and the last time you saw a vegetable, it was in a public service message plastered to the wall by your bus stop. (And it made you feel pretty resentful, truth to be told.)
8. You Haven’t Had a Raise in a Long, Long Time
Money isn’t everything, but it’s hard to pay the electric bill without it. Beyond that, it’s hard to feel appreciated when your paycheck has stayed the same while your job requirements have increased. Plus, thanks to inflation, if you don’t get regular raises, you’re actually earning less than you were a few years ago.
9. You Don’t Have the Time or Energy for Your Outside Interests
Maybe it’s because you’re depressed and don’t have the energy, or maybe it’s because you work so much that you don’t have time to engage in hobbies or spend time with friends and family. Whatever the reason, it’s not a good sign.
10. You Feel Like You’re Always at Work, Even on Your Day Off
The irony of being stuck in a job you hate is that it tends to consume your every waking moment—even if you don’t have a boss who calls you at home or emails you at 3 am. Good jobs allow for true work-life balance, which means being able to unplug from work to enjoy your life. If you find that you’re always ruminating about work—or actually working, when you’re meant to be enjoying time off—it might be time to move on.
What to Do When You Hate Your Job
What should you do when you hate your job? You don’t want to quit a job that’s still getting you where you want to go in your career, just because things are a bit more difficult right at this moment.
Learning to Love Your Job
There could be a way you could learn to love your job even if it doesn't feel like it right now. Consider whether this is simply a rough patch and if things will be better when you get through it.
If it is, and you're happy at work most of the time, you may not hate your job after all. If that's the case, think about what you could change to make it more palatable.
Deciding When it's Time to Move On
On the other hand, it’s a bad idea to stay in a job you hate any longer than you have to (read: until you can find a new, more promising job). Hanging on to a bad work situation can lead to burnout, and it may be time to move on.