How to Stay Positive When You Hate Your Job

It’s hard to feel positive when work – the thing that takes the bulk of your time and energy – is something that fills you with dread. Whether you’re just in a career field that’s not right for you, or you simply are in a job and not a career you’re passionate about – we’re talking about how to stay positive when you hate your job.

How to Stay Positive When You Hate Your Job

Have you ever woken up in the morning and dreaded the day ahead? Perhaps you looked ahead to your workday and thought, “This is going to suck. Today’s going to be awful.” A few hours later, at work, you’re able to confirm it – you were right. Maybe you had to give a presentation you were dreading, and you find yourself thinking “They’re going to hate this idea,” and lo and behold, they do?

This type of thinking and speaking is known as a self-fulfilling prophecy, a socio-psychological phenomenon where your prediction comes true because your resulting behaviours and actions fulfill those beliefs.  Put simply: your brain believes what you tell it.  

When you use self-talk – the automatic thoughts that run through your head during the day – your brain starts to believe those thoughts, positive or negative.  If you continually tell yourself that you’re not good at something, your brain will believe it and you will act accordingly. If you tell yourself that your life is filled with good things, your brain will believe it and you will begin to see the positive in your life.  Positive self-talk is the first step in positive thinking.

When you use positive thinking, you have a mental attitude of optimism and you look for favourable outcomes in all situations.  It uses hope to make the best out of all situations. People who use positive thinking focus on changing things they can control, letting go of things they cannot control, looking for ways to improve situations, and learning lessons along the way.  Positive thinking is not looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses. Instead, it allows you to approach unpleasant situations in a more positive and productive way. And as a bonus, positive thinking has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and improve your overall wellbeing.

Being in a job that you hate can be extremely stressful and you may find yourself speaking more negative than positive.  This is detrimental, especially during a career change, when you need to feel positive, confident, and expectant of good things happening with your career.

What do you like about the job?

While you may not like your job as a whole, think about the things you do like and focus on those.  

Think about the things you like to do. Let’s take a position as an insurance company’s customer service representative, for example. The hours seem long, customers yell at you all day, and you wish you got paid more. If you reflect on those, you’ll continue to feel miserable and perhaps unmotivated. Think instead about the things you like about the job – like your co-workers that you hang out during your lunch break. The knowledge you’ve gained that you can use somewhere else. You can even think about your benefits that allowed you to take short term leave when you had back surgery. Concentrate on the good instead of the bad.

Think about the impact you have.  How are you impacting others – your colleagues, your customers, or your family?  Even though 99% of your customers yell at you, think about that 1% who are thankful for you and tell a manager about your service.  Think about your colleague who says you’re the only person she feels comfortable speaking to about her troubled marriage. Think about how you’re able to cook dinner for your family every night because you get off at a reasonable time.  Think impact over discontent.

Think about the results you achieve.  What are you accomplishing at your job?  What results are you getting? How are you helping the company help its customers through the work that you do?  What projects have you completed that make you proud? What ideas have you shared that have been implemented? Focus on results that give you pride and that you can share with prospective jobs.

Focus on how you’ve grown or what you’ve learned

Most likely, you’ve not achieved yet all you want to achieve in your career.  Remember, a job just a stop on your career journey. So, take the time to think about how you’ve grown and learned at this current stop.  

How have you grown?  Sure, you’re not where you want to be yet, but you’re further than when you first started.  Reflect on how you’ve grown and developed in your current role. What are you better at now because of it?  Are you better able to deal with difficult situations? Or better able to speak up in meetings? Remind yourself of your journey.

What have you learned?  Every situation in life provides an opportunity to learn.  So, think about the skills you’ve learned, but also about the life lessons you’ve gained.  How has working with difficult people helped you in other areas? How has hearing “no” built up your tough skin?  Make a list of the things you learned as a result of this job. You may be surprised.

How can you connect your current job to your desired career?

As mentioned above, a job is a stop on your career journey. Think about how your current job connects to the career you want to have.  Think about the things you like, the impact you have, the results you’ve achieved, how you’ve grown, and what you’ve learned, and connect it to your desired future.  Let’s continue with our example of a customer service representative.

Current job as insurance company customer service representative:

Like to do – help others, solve problems

My impact – I help people understand their insurance policies

My results – help people quickly, implemented online help directory

My growth – I know now how to lead meetings

My learning – learned how write denial letters

In the future, I’d love to have a career where I’m in a leadership position and am able to help others understand complex issues in innovative ways.  

Do you see how this person was able to connect their current job with their desired career?  And although there are parts of the job they dislike, by focusing on the positives, they are able to create a clear vision of the future.  Now’s your turn to try.

Try This

When you feel and think negatively about your job, you give those emotions and words power.  Constant negative feelings can turn into depression, anxiety, and stress.  

Practice positive self-talk.  Remember, people who use positive thinking focus on changing things they can control, letting go of things they cannot control, looking for ways to improve situations, and learning lessons along the way.  So, get some paper and write down the answers to these questions about your current job:

- What can I control about my job?

- What things are out of my control that I need to let go of?

- How can I improve bad situations at my job?

- What lessons have I learned in this job?

- You’ll be surprised at what you discover about yourself.


While being stuck in a job you dislike is an unpleasant situation, there are usually at least a few positives about it. Look at the situation and see if you can pick out the things you enjoy or things you have learned. Every job has the ability to impact you in some positive way – look for the good things it has done.

Has this resonated with you? I’d love to hear from you….

What action are you going to take as a result of reading this article? Let me know your thoughts.  Remember – your observations may inspire someone else who needs help to act.