How To Find Happiness At A Job You Truly Hate

Bridge the space between where you are now and fully living your purpose.

Last updated on Apr 18, 2024

Woman annoyed while working Karolina Grabowska | Canva

When you have the ah-ha moment of discovering your life purpose, you will likely feel both exhilarated and frustrated. Why? Because the moment you figure out your purpose, you'll likely realize your current job has almost nothing to do with the work you feel meant to do.

You've heard "When you do what you love, everything comes up roses". But you can't pay your mortgage or buy groceries with happy thoughts and metaphoric roses, can you?


Frustration turns to deep dissatisfaction because you're in a scary, uncertain space between your current reality and the life of your dreams. You tell yourself life would be perfect if you could pursue your purpose instead of working a job you hate.

You crave a dramatic (quick-but-please-let-it-be-painless) change to move you to your dreams. You wait, wish, and live in limbo. What can you do to make limbo more tolerable? (Dare I even say: enjoyable?)

RELATED: How To Find A Job That Makes Your Life Better

Here's how to find happiness at a job you truly hate.

1. Accept where you are at this moment

It's normal for our human brains to believe that an instant change will make our lives better. We believe if our job was different, or we lived in a new house, we'd feel more successful. I hate to break it to you, but living with if-then thinking only keeps you stuck.


The only way to move forward in life is to realize (and accept) that your journey can only begin from exactly where you are. If you wait to pursue your dreams until things are just right, you'll never move forward.

2. Quitting your day job isn't the answer

The average business or new creative venture takes at least three years to get off the ground, and you still have bills to pay. Look at your purpose as your heart. As Pam Slim (author of Escape from Cubicle Nation) advises, keep your day job, so you can comfortably pay your bills. There is no shame in having a purpose with health insurance and groceries.



3. Find joy now

The best advice about surviving life in limbo (especially when you don't have a job that fits right) is to find something to love within your current situation.


Hate your job? Really? Every single minute of it? Is there any moment of the day or portion of your job that you enjoy even a little bit? Focus on that. Dig one particular activity? Lavish it with effort and affection. Channel the essence of your purpose into your current job.

I recently coached a woman who wanted to become a life coach. She began weaving that purpose into how she trains and treats new hires and people who report to her. She decided to start developing and honing her mentoring skills now in her traditional job while she worked toward launching a full-time coaching practice.

When you find something to love in your present situation, you always win. No matter how miserable you are. So, ask yourself, what is beautiful (or at least bearable) about the now? What makes you feel alive? Pour your energy into that.

RELATED: Attorney Says Quiet Quitting Is Smart — ‘Giving 110% To Your Employer Is A Bad Bet’


4. Ask for adjustments at your current job

Are there any single tasks you loathe that a co-worker loves? Or, are there interesting responsibilities within the organization that you could take over? Are there other positions within the company that seem like a better channel for your purpose? Think of some options and talk to your manager.

If you know leaving is on the horizon, how can you make the most of your remaining time? Make a list of skills worth learning or relationships worth cultivating. Do your job, and do it well, but also focus on how your job can also work for you.

she is overwhelmed at workPhoto: Nicoleta Ionescu via Shutterstock


5. Don't buy into magic formulas

There are a lot of programs, books, and self-professed mentors out there who will tell you they have the magic formula to easily reach the life of your dreams. The truth is there is no secret formula or magic sauce for turning your purpose into a lucrative career. Invest in a good business coach or mentor, but don't waste oodles of money on anything that promises an easy or quick fix.

6. There is no such thing as overnight success

Every single "overnight success" story occurred after years on an uncertain path. We only recognize their effort when they finally pop onto our radar, but they were striving all along. Be willing to do the work that will build the life or career you want. Take courses, create a website, and seek out those first-paying gigs. Tomorrow's success begins with actions you take today.

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7. Do some research to gain clarity

Sure, our culture loves to say things like: "Do what you love," "Be yourself," and create a career around that, but explore several options to find what's true for you. Talk to people in your desired field of work to see how long it took to make their business successful and sustainable. You may discover that your purpose is better as a hobby than a career, or you may realize you're ready to take courage by the horns and follow your purpose full-time.


8. There will be consequences if you choose to leave your job

Get clear about those consequences. We think leaving will be a clean and easy solution — like cutting a rope — but, usually, it's messy and less idyllic than we thought it would be. It takes courage to leave behind a steady paycheck and pursue your purpose full-time. You may think I'm trying to discourage you from pursuing your purpose, but I'm not.

From experience, I know that to create a sustainable life, it takes time and demands that you face your fears.



9. Create a strategic plan

If you want to create a purpose-centered business that provides you with your daily bread and butter, fortify the structure you need to succeed — a business plan, financial goals, and marketing plans. Decide how much money you need in savings to sustain your lifestyle, and become dedicated to building that nest egg.


Pursuing your purpose as a full-time gig is incredibly rewarding. Don't confuse having a regular job that helps pay the bills as a failure to live that purpose. Channel it into your life where you are as you can, and treat yourself with kindness and grace along the way.

RELATED: 3 Power Moves For Getting Back Into Work When You Regret Quiet Quitting

Debra Smouse is a life coach and author whose work has been published in TIME, Huffington Post, MSN, Psychology Today, and more.