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How to Keep a Positive Attitude When You’re Dissatisfied with Your Job

Updated on September 13, 2010
Is the "Bad Boss" yelling at you?
Is the "Bad Boss" yelling at you?
"Annoying Colleagues" getting to you?
"Annoying Colleagues" getting to you?
Overloaded with work?
Overloaded with work?
Job got you stressed?
Job got you stressed?
Do your customers/clients drive you crazy?
Do your customers/clients drive you crazy?

Five Realistic Methods for Developing a Positive Attitude

Whether your natural outlook on life is “half-empty” or “half-full,” developing and maintaining a positive attitude can be challenging. Doing so when you hate your job and finding another is not an option can feel like a nightmare. So, what can you do? Is it possible to stay positive when your job is a negative experience?

Identifying what exactly it is that you find dissatisfying about your job can help you customize your coping strategies.

Reasons for Job Dissatisfaction

“Bad Boss”: the person you report to, including your boss’s boss, who consistently disrespects, belittles, or harasses you. Their habits include not listening, taking credit for your work, not giving credit or recognition for your hard work, name-calling or yelling, blaming you for their mistakes, etc.

“Annoying Colleagues: similar to the bad-boss definition of disrespect, belittling and harassment, but may also include humiliation, gossiping, sabotaging, and other negative behaviors towards you.

“Boring Work”: you’ve learned and mastered all aspects of doing your job. It is now monotonous, uninteresting and seemingly never ending. Unchallenging work can also lead to increasing burnout.

“Increasing Burnout”: you have been at your job long enough for you to do it in your sleep, blind-folded, one hand tied behind your back... and yet, instead of getting easier, it seems to get harder and harder to complete each day. You struggle to remember why you even took the job in the first place.

“Under-valued & Over-worked”: you receive little or no recognition for your work. Your work load is doubled or tripled with no compensation increases, but the expectation is that you will get the job done in the same amount of time (no overtime, of course). This is frequently seen in organizations that have down-sized, usually with massive layoffs.

“Unreasonable Customers/Client”: they are demanding, demeaning and have a sense of entitlement. They talk to you as if you are their personal servant and not someone who has other customers to care for. And even if you do manage to come through for them, no words of appreciation are forth coming because, in their mind, it was your fault to begin with.

Once you have pinpointed the areas that are making you dissatisfied with your job, you can choose and apply the coping strategies that fit best.

Developing & Maintaining a Positive Attitude

What does it mean to have a positive attitude? Our attitudes influence how we think, feel, behave and respond to situations. They are developed based on the experiences, assumptions and judgments we’ve made during our lifetime. If a situation turns out as well as we believe it should, we typically have a positive attitude. However, if the situation turns out badly, with disappointing results, then a negative attitude may prevail.

Our attitudes in one situation, positive or negative, can sets the stage for how we handle the next situation. Even if the situations are not related, or even similar, the previous attitude rules. For example, the attitude: “I had a bad day at work, I’ll probably have a bad commute home” often results in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

However, there is good news. We have the power to change our attitude. The following are five realistic ways you can promote a more positive attitude towards your job and life:

Look at the Big Picture

The day to day reality of your job may be undesirable, but where you are now is not necessarily where you’ll be in the future. Take charge of your journey and put a positive perspective on your current work situation. Focusing on what your job allows you to do for yourself and your family can help you stay positive as you look for an opportunity to change. Remember, your life is more than your job.

  • Ask yourself: Why am I working? What does this job provide for me and my family? What will be the pay-offs by sticking with this job? What would happen if I quit or was laid-off today? What have I invested in this job?
  • Define your vision of the future (or at least for your desired job).
  • Identify the impact of your current job has to your future vision.
  • Understand you are not alone and decisions you make will affect others.

View Your Job as a Stepping Stone

Your current job may not be your desired job but you may be able to glean new skills, knowledge, or experiences that could make way for the job you want. Start by mapping out your ideal job or career.

Your current job may be a detour on your journey to your desired job. Therefore, make the best of it by analyzing the skills and knowledge you are currently using that you will take with you to your ideal job. Take advantage of any training programs offered by your company that will enhance your skills for your future career.

Know Your Triggers

Identify the triggers that set you off and replace or avoid them. Triggers that may lead to negative attitudes include certain types of words, people, situations, music, etc. Where possible replace your negative triggers with positive ones.

Normally we would avoid people who are negative triggers, but that isn’t realistic if the culprit is a coworker or boss. You might, however, be able to minimize the amount of time spent with him or her. Also, build a support group. Developing relationships with persons with positive attitudes can help balance out the negative people you must deal with daily.

Make a conscious effort to replace negative words or phrases from your thoughts and speech. Replace “I can’t” with “I can” and go into action.

Implement Symbolic Rituals

Start doing exercises on a regular basis that will promote the development of a positive attitude in your life.

  • Keep a diary or journal in a loose-leaf notebook, record all your negative feelings for the day, then burn it and let go. IMPORTANT NOTE: never record negative thoughts or feelings on-line or via email, it will come back to haunt you someday.
  • Do something physical during your breaks or lunch time. Go for a walk and think positive thoughts.
  • Listen to inspiring music while working (if allowed).
  • Begin each day with a positive or inspiring thought for the day.
  • Do something unexpectedly nice for your boss or co-worker (that will keep them wondering!).

Eat an Elephant

How do you eat an elephant? You break it up into small pieces! Set attainable and realistic small goals to change your current job situation. Reaching your desired job or career may seem daunting, but, when you plan small steps to take each day, you will discover the journey is not as difficult as you thought.

Establish long-range goals and then break it down into short-range goals. Each short-range goal gets you one step further to your long-range goal; in this case your desired job. This might mean getting a degree, certificate, etc., requiring you to take evening or on-line classes. No matter what steps you need to take, a little research will reveal many options that will fit your current situation.

What have you got to lose?

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained” goes the adage. If you are dissatisfied with your current job or are experiencing negativity in your life, experiment with applying one or more of the five methods for developing a more positive viewpoint. You might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. After all, what have you got to lose?

What Affects YOU Most?

What is your number one reason for being dissatisfied with your job?

See results


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    • antigravity profile image


      3 years ago

      Always remember your goal & objectives. Achieve your target without wasting any time. It will help build a positive attitude.

    • passionate77 profile image


      5 years ago

      nice tips, informative and encouraging as well, to stay focused with a positive outlook, thanks for sharing dear, stay blessed!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Im the only one under my line manager. He is mean spirited, condescending, negative & a bully. Most of the people in he company can't stand working with him. & now clients are complaining about his condesending attitude too. I'm in a very difficult position I don't want to get involved but cause so many people don't like him they are now routing things through me its getting hard to stay neutral, cause most of the work falls on me & because of his negativity it's difficult for me to enjoy being there. I love the work, clients & other people I work with, but it's horrible being around him. it's embarrassing to be in meetings with him, people either laugh at him or are shocked by him behaviour. I don't want to be disloyal & report him. But his attitude is causing client to do less work with us meaning he is putting my job in jeopardy. Help anyone got advice?

    • INFJay profile imageAUTHOR

      Jay Manriquez 

      6 years ago from Santa Rosa, California

      Jess, thanks for commenting on this topic. I have interviewed numerous persons in customer service/hospitality jobs that feel the same way. Work on keeping as positive an attitude as possible and know that comments like yours reminds me and others to treat everyone, regardless of what job they're in, with utmost respect and gratitude. I appreciate that by reading this article you are doing something positive!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Unfortunately, when you work in hospitality there is very little you can do about unreasonable customers. The major reason why I hate my job is because I am tired of sucking up to rich clients whose sense of entitlement makes them think they can treat you like trash because of a simple mistake that will effect them for about five seconds (and isn't even your fault). The only way to fix my job misery is to get out of the hospitality business. Unfortunately, it's the only place where I can make enough money to pay off my school loans.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for putting up this, its a big source of encouragement.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      7 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      I think I had the right answer. I took EVR from Royal Mail three years ago. Thought I was being institutionalised, and some of the bosses - especially the younger ones - were f*****g agressive, as if they were lining me up for the firing squad! The older ones were all right, some were more laid back, but then that might have been because they were aiming to leave soon as well.

    • chablis345 profile image


      7 years ago from Berkshire

      Good advice. I have been made to go part time because of bad management and the firm losing money but am putting up with the situation until I can find another position. That said it is hard to stay motivated and focused when I spend the majority of the day bored to tears and unhappy!

    • Julip Manor profile image

      Julip Manor 

      7 years ago from Kingwood, Texas

      This sounds so logical when you step back from is difficult to follow though. We need some allies in the trenches. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • miragerainy profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for the useful information! Our positive attitude should be the cause, not the random consequence of good events.

    • profile image

      8 years ago

      A few years back, I found myself in a bad situation of office politics, unclear chains of command and the constant feeling that management was trying to get me to quit. It wasn't easy, but I decided on a grin and bear it attitude. I new that I would be leaving after a couple of years, so I pretended to be the most satisfied employee there. The worse it got, the bigger I smiled, leaving management to wonder. I even got a couple of coworkers involved who were feeling the same pressure. The greater the pressure, the more 'wonderful' we claimed to feel. A knowing smile was all we needed from each other to laugh at the absurdity of what management was doing. Sure, it was a fake positive attitude, but that laughter and support (and the satisfaction of not letting them make me quit) were all that kept me sane until I was able to transfer.


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