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How to be happy when you work in a miserable job

Updated on September 14, 2012

You sat through a nerve racking job interview. Everyone seemed friendly and full of smiles; the job sounded like it was going to offer you some new and exciting challenges.

You left the interview really hoping to get the job and then after much anticipation, you finally received that all important phone call that notified you that you had the job. Your thoughts went crazy for a moment “Great, fantastic, the bills will get paid, I’ll meet some nice new people and I’m going to give this job my all”.

Then before you know it, your eyes watch longingly over the clock as you desperately wait for home time everyday and you realise the exciting challenge’s that you had been expecting are more like a very stern kick in the teeth, and your biggest challenge is going to be trying to smile your way through it.

So how can you possibly stay happy in yourself?

First of all, always try to be true to your self, if you are a happy go lucky type of person then don’t let anything stand in the way of that. They hired you happy so they’ve got you happy, they might not like it, but that’s who you are so tough luck on them, “kill them with kindness” as the saying goes. If you can keep up your smile it may soon start to rub off on other people. Try to remember that even if they don't say it out loud, they might hate the job as much as you do.

The next time your boss hands you a gigantic pile of paper work or a tedious amount of phone calls to get through, remind yourself that whilst you are sat/stood there bored out of your brains, you're getting paid for it. (Crazy isn’t it, that someone actually pays you to be bored). Have you ever sat at home, bored and wished you could get paid for it?

Dealing with broken or faulty equipment at work

If you’re already feeling a bit down then, getting frustrated with faulty or broken equipment at work can soon get on top of you but try not to let it, after all – it’s not your fault if something is not working!

Take a deep breathe and let your boss know that whatever it is, is not working properly or is broken. Unless you’ve been hired as the handyman or engineer then it’s probably not your job to worry about fixing it.

It’s a bit like someone giving a builder some bricks and telling him/her to build a house without allowing them any cement, and then asking why the house has fell down. If they don’t provide the tools, you can’t do your job properly. When they ask why you’ve not finished everything at the expected lightening speed, then simply and politely explain to them that you can only work as quickly and effectively as the tools will allow you to do so. This will certainly make them realise that they could be getting more work out of you, and they are likely to try and fix the problem as quickly as they can, so try not to let it worry you.

Stand up for yourself

If you have a boss that expects you to never leave your desk/work place to take a break, remind yourself that you are human and you are still your own boss. You have every right to a loo break when you need one. That’s just how the human body works, if you’ve ‘got to go’, then you’ve ‘got to go’ and that’s all there is to it. They would soon have a problem if you started leaving nasty little wet patches lying around the work place.

Know your self-worth; if they want you to work for them, then it’s just something they will have to except.

If you are the type of person that will usually bust your guts out at work to get a job done and find a small 10 minute break here and there helps you to work better, then your boss should be able to see your true value to the company. Try to explain to your boss that you it would benefit you and your work to be able to take a quick breather when you feel you need one, and they might just be willing to allow it. (But don’t push your luck with extended breaks as they would probably stop the privilege just as quick).

Learn to switch off

Avoid taking your work and stress home with you. Learn to switch off. If you finish work at 5pm then your wages also stop at the same time, so draw the line and stop stressing about work at 5pm too. It’s your time now so worry about tomorrows work when tomorrow gets here. The day has probably already been long enough, the evening is yours to enjoy now.

Being in ‘work mode’ becomes an automatic thing when you put on your work clothes, so the first thing you should do when you get back home is take them off. Make your self feel at home again and slip into something comfortable (if you're like me, then that'll be into your pyjamas).

Even though you still have a lot to do at home, try extra hard to find at least 10 minutes to yourself so that you can really rest up with a nice cup of tea or coffee / a glass of wine / pint of beer or whatever takes your fancy. It’s important for the sake of your inner peace to have even just a really small amount of ‘you time’ if you can.

Living for the weekend?

There are two types of people and two ways of making it through the week.

One: This is where you can still live your life to the max all through the week and at the weekends too. Experts in this field will tell you that you should still make time to see friends during the week, go to the gym, go out and let your hair down and they are probably right, you should try to enjoy every single day of your life no matter what is going on. That’s brilliant if you are the type of person that can do that, it’s exactly what you should be doing and you will still have a very well balanced life style.

Two: You live for the purely weekend (I have to admit that I’m guilty of this one). I know this is not how it should be, but it just is! So if you’re a live for the weekend person then try to work even harder during the week.  (No I don't mean at your job, I’m sure you already work way too hard at that already). I mean with your everyday chores, even though you probably come home from work feeling tired, try to push yourself that little bit more and get as much of the boring stuff out the way with during the week so that you can really enjoy the weekend.

Make the most of your weekend

Whether you live for the entire week or just for the weekend; you should always try to make the most of your weekends. A good weekend can really help carry you through the following week, and keep some of those feel good feelings inside you. Don't spend it worrying about work on Monday, worry about Monday when it gets here. Do the stuff helps you to relax and have some fun, whether it’s lazing in front of a DVD, spending time with your family or going off to do a bungee jump, just enjoy it!

Have a plan or a goal

So you don't like the job, you’re either going to go the rest of your life putting up with it or you need to come up with a plan to help you. It could be a plan that helps you keep your sanity while you’re working there or a plan on how to get you out of there.

Speak to your boss about such things as being allowed loo breaks or maybe you feel you need to be better at something in the job, see if they have any training resources that can help you. You may like to work on building up your confidence so that you find it easier to deal with clients.

If you’ve decided that you want out of that job as soon as possible, then you need to think about the things that are stopping you from leaving. Fear of insecurity and having no money usually come top of the list, so what can you do towards solving that problem? See if you can save up a bit of money so that you have something to fall back on, it will help you to feel less insecure. Think positively and try not to fear change too much. It can be scary but you took the chance on this job and if you really want out, then it could be well worth your while to take a chance again.

You can try go straight from this job into another one. Take a look at your CV, all the stuff you have done at this job so far can now be added to it, so consider updating it and sending it out to some potential employers. If your CV still need’s a few more things on it to buff it up a bit more then see if you can get the most out of your job while your there and ask if they have any free courses they can send you on or you could check around your local area to see if they have any course.

Have you ever considered setting up your own business? Now might be a good time to think about it a bit more. How nice would it be to leave your job and never have to go and work for someone else ever again?

At your next interview

If you’ve decided that going for another job is the option you want to take or need to take, then the last thing you want to do is end up in the same situation all over again, so look for some tell tale signs.

Take a deep look at your interviewer, do they really look happy in their job or does that big old smile of theirs look a bit fake? If they look like it’s all a bit put on then the chances are they don’t want to be there any more than you will.  Ask the interviewer how long they have worked there for and what they think the up’s and down’s of the job are. Ask them about the other people that you will be working with; they might tell you that you will be working alone when you actually prefer to work as part of a team.

Remember that not only are they interviewing you to see if you are suitable for the job, but you are also interviewing them to see if their company and the job is suitable for you.

Ask about what your job role involves. If there is one thing that you particularly hate doing, for example ‘sales’, then ask them if there is any sales involved in your role. That way you can be certain you won’t get stuck with it unexpectedly, and if they do ever request you suddenly take on that job role, then you can protest that it was not in your job description.

The interviewers like it when you ask questions. It shows that you are interested in the job and that you are confident, so don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you like. If they are not willing to answer them, then ask your self if it's maybe because they have something to hide. See if they appear to be passionate about their work. Do they get carried away when discussing a certain aspect of the job with you?  When people are passionate about their work, then they are generally happier to be there than someone who just works for the sake of having to. Remember that no matter how much you need or want a job, you have the right to be happy!

Work Quotes:

“If you find a job you love, you will never work again” - Winston Churchill

"Any organization is like a septic tank. The really big chunks rise to the top" - John Imhoff


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    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 5 years ago from London

      Thanks Bob Zermop, I'm happy it's of use to you.x

    • Bob Zermop profile image

      Bob Zermop 5 years ago from California, USA

      Very interesting hub, great tips in here. Glad I found it :)

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 6 years ago from London

      Thanks Johnny Parker,

      I hope it goes some way into helping you find happier jobs in the future.


    • Johnny Parker profile image

      Johnny Parker 7 years ago from Birkenhead, Wirral, North West England

      Good article.

      I've lost count of the miserable jobs I've had, I wish I'd read this years ago.

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      Hi Docmo,

      Thank you for your kind words. I certainly hope it is of use to people and that they can improve their jobs on a day to day basis. Thank you for taking the time to have a read and leave a comment.


    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 7 years ago from UK

      Brilliant Hub. Simple, practical tips but said with passion for positive mental attitudes. Really useful tips will be appreciated by most. Well done.

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      Hi Almasi,

      Thank you for your contributing tips.


    • almasi profile image

      almasi 7 years ago

      Thanks for a wonderful hub.

      I would also recommend the book 10 Commandments of Working in a Hostile Environment by Bishop TD Jakes as it really helped me cope with some work stress I had.

      Another tip I can give for coping with a terrible job is to know why you are there in the first place. Are you there to finish paying the mortgage or to save for your business or to have the experience chalked in your resume?

      Examine yourself so that you have a goal and an exit strategy and you will be able to bear with the stress without getting unduly distressed.

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      Hi onceuponatime66,

      If you are passionate about writing on here, believe in yourself and don't give up to easily, then I'm sure you will someday make some money from it.

      Good luck and always follow your

    • onceuponatime66 profile image

      Jackie Paulson 7 years ago from USA IL

      Great hub and very useful. I am searching for my passion in life as I am in my mid 40's. Just started writing on here and hope to make money one day.

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      Thanks for all your comments and feedback, it's very inspiring to me. Really glad to be helping so many people. Good luck giwrgos12

      Best wishes to

    • giwrgos12 profile image

      giwrgos12 7 years ago from San Diego

      What a great review! I wanted to get one immediately after reading your review.

    • KenWu profile image

      KenWu 7 years ago from Malaysia

      Awesome piece of article. Hating the job won't do good why not love it. But all your points are so true particular about the boss wanting you to stick on the desk 24/7 at least happening over here.

      God bless,


    • Beach Bum Bhudda profile image

      Beach Bum Bhudda 7 years ago from Maui, Hawaii

      You make the case for making the most out of one's work situation. Right-o. You also instill the message of being true-to-one's-self. I think that's an important message, and one that will ultimately lead the worker to a happier position. Keep up your heart warming writing.

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      It's certainly important to our health that we all try to achieve happiness in our jobs and

    • kosanya profile image

      kosanya 7 years ago

      I think you can smile through your teeth for only so long. Eventually, a bad job will kill you.

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 7 years ago from New England

      Hi Victoria,

      Good hub about keeping the will to be positive in one's job so that one may reap a good recommendation when one finds a position that is a sincere and coveted step up from where we are.

      It is also a good reminder to work whatever schedule that is part of the work culture to our advantage. My own experience at a couple of jobs that I did enjoy had much to do with underappreciation from bosses.

      Isn't it funny that nowadays, the corporate heirarchy is organized so that those on top who benefit from the work of those that work for them also depend on the same workers to pay their taxes for them? Double kick in the teeth.

      But what can we do but smile and find a way to work it to our own advantage? Thank you for your inspiration, Victoria.


    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      Thanks epigramman,

      Glad to be of the right dosage :-D xxx

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ...whenever I'm miserable - I take the right medicine and come over to your hubs .....

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      Hi travelspresso,

      Thank you very much for the feedback. It's nice to know the tips may be helping some people.


    • travelespresso profile image

      travelespresso 7 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      This is a great article with some really excellent advice Victoria. Well done.

      It's a challenging to stay happy and positive in an environment where you are unchallenged and unappreciated but for anyone who is (and I have been in the past), you've listed some really great tips.

      Take care and thanks for sharing.

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      Hi Karen Wodke, I really do hope many people can benefit from it. Best

      Hi Lyjo, Pleased to hear you enjoyed it. Thank

      Hi Peter Underhill, Thank you very much for your kind words. I also hope it can benefit your family members. Best of

      Hi Lew, Thank you for your comment. I hope you do someday find a job where you are happy and appreciated. Kindest

    • profile image

      lew  7 years ago

      Hi Victoria! Nice article you have here about about happiness in the workplace. I've been a blue collar worker almost all of my life, except for a small respite in a purchasing department. I've really never been very happy working for others and I tend to be a "living for the weekend " type of person where I accomplish other goals including being a blogger and advocate for Vasculitis. I think what most of us working stiffs all share is that we all work our little fingers off for a paycheck with very little appreciation from the owners and executives of the companies that we all work for. I do think that this hub does help all of us hopefully take something away that we can utilize right away to help deal with things in the workplace that we may find distasteful or objectionable. Congrats on a nice and well thought out hub!

    • profile image

      Peter Underhill 7 years ago

      Victoria, this is the best article and advice I have read on happiness in the work place. You are spot on. I am sending this to some family members who can benefit from your wisdom. I believe the unhappiness that may be in your job will result in inspiration to many other people in a similar situation. I wish you the very best.

    • lyjo profile image

      lyjo 7 years ago

      Such great advice, a well written hub, an enjoyable read! Thanks, take care!

    • Karen Wodke profile image

      Karen Wodke 7 years ago from Midwest

      Great advice. Everyone who has ever been trapped in a job they despise should benefit from these helpful suggestions.

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      Hi Ipeoney,

      Lets for many peoples sake that the economy starts to improve real soon.


    • Ipeoney profile image

      Ipeoney 7 years ago from USA

      Hi, very good Hub thanks for sharing. Sometimes we just have to bear work related problems in order to keep a job, especially during this bad economy. When economy is good and there are lots of jobs around, then it is easier to switch job.

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      Hi Vancouver Realtor,

      I agree that life is too short, but unfortunately just quitting is not an option for most people. Working on a plan to get out of there asap helps people to realise what options they have.


    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      Thanks Money Glitch,

      It's always worth asking the interviewer their opinions, also check out the atmosphere of the place when you walk in, did you feel relaxed, and does the receptionist look happy?

      Good luck in your next

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

      Very good ideas. I live for the weekend as well. Really like the part about looking at the interviewer to see if they like their job. Will definitely have to give that a try on my next interview. :) Congrats, on being selected as one of this week's HubNugget Wannabe Nominees. Good luck to you! :)

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      Thanks fetty,

      Job hopping may not be too good for your resume but it does show that you are not afraid of change when it comes to finding your happiness. The right employer will surely see that a potential happy worker is better than an unhappy one.

      Think of all the good points from each job when going for your next one and see if you can find a job with all the good bits in and less of the bad.

      Best of

    • fetty profile image

      fetty 7 years ago from South Jersey

      I have been a notorious job hopper. (Not a good thing for the resume.) Always interview the interviewer before you take the job is a powerful suggestion. Great hub! Congrats. on your nomination, too!

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      Hi Helene_c

      It sometimes helps if you can emotionally detach your self from your job as much as possible. Go in, do what you’ve got to do and you’re out of there after, switch emotions back on. Try not to let it destroy the person you are outside of work and look forward to new beginnings somewhere else.

      Good luck finding a job you can be happy

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      Hi elayne001,

      It’s great that you at least have hubpages to focus on; maybe you can draw from some of your work experiences to make some more articles for hubpages.

      When you’re struggling to get out of bed, see if you can concentrate on others things that the day will bring other than work.

      I wish you all the best on hubpages and with finding a job that can bring you some satisfaction and

    • helene_c profile image

      helene_c 7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Hi Victoria Stephens. A great hub - very well written. I'm currently in a job that I hate and am just trying to get through the days so I recognise much of what you describe. But I'm hoping to move on very soon.

      Congratulations on the nomination too.

    • elayne001 profile image

      Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      I have to pull myself out of bed and force myself to go to work each day. That is why I write on Hubpages, because it is enjoyable and I enjoy it. I will have to take to heart some of your suggestions whilst I look for a job I can enjoy again. Thanks for a great hub.

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      Hi Ripplemaker,

      Thank you very much for the nomination, on my way over after this :-)

      It defiantly helps to see things from another perspective. It makes all the difference if you can gain something from the experience and have something else to look forward to at the end of it.


    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      It would be wonderful if everyone could do a job they truly like. But if not, in the meantime, shifting perspective and attitude does help :) Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination! This way please:

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      Hi KoffeeKlatch Gals,

      It's nice if you can smile your way through something without letting it get you down. Some people are really scared to move on from their jobs and most of the time just need to know that other options are available to them.


    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I agree with the kill them with kindness. My feelings are, deal with what you have until you find something better. Never burn your bridges, be nice and as we both have said - kill them with kindness. When life there at your job becomes too unbearable you will move on.

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      Hi IvoryMelodies,

      I see so many people unhappy in their jobs and it saddens me to think that many people still go home feeling unhappy at the end of their working day.

      We have to spend so much of our lives at work, so to be stuck in a job that makes you feel unhappy or offers no satisfaction can be quite soul destroying. We do all have to make tough discussions sometimes and the outcome is not always what we have hoped for, but having a goal to work towards certainly offers hope of being happier in a job.

      Good luck in your quest to find the job you are after, may it be a happy and satisfying one.


    • IvoryMelodies profile image

      IvoryMelodies 7 years ago

      So much great advice here, not just in keeping a good attitude, but in capitalizing on the opportunities beyond simply bringing in a paycheck.

      I have had jobs I loved, jobs I hated, and some that landed somewhere in-between. In the course of those, I've left jobs I loved to pursue other adventures and left jobs that were not a good fit because I needed to look for something else, and, from my viewpoint, the employer needed and deserved to have someone sitting at my desk that wanted to be there. I have also stayed in jobs just because it was a job. Miserable choice to have to make, but not all bad.

      As one who is currently seeking satisfying employment, I will keep these tips in mind. Thanks so much!