Having a bad job is good for you

I know, I know.  Having a bad job can cause tons of stress, health problems, family problems, and so on.  Bad jobs suck.  Bad bosses suck.  We’ve all had our share of them. But here’s the secret:  hating your job could be the best thing that ever happened to you.  Seriously.

My bad job (one of them, anyway)

I used to have a bad job, along with a bad boss.  She wasn’t a bad person, but she was certainly a bad boss.  Within 18 months after she was promoted to supervise the team I was on, nearly 100% of the team members (myself included) left the company–and these were people who had all been at the company for several years, through many other bosses, acquisitions, team restructuring, and transitions.hate my job Around the same time, our company was acquired.  The company culture–which had made it such a fun place to work early on–was eroded.  Benefits were chipped away–both bread-and-butter benefits like health benefits, as well as quirky benefits like a masseuse, or free snacks.  New policies were put in place that didn’t serve our customers well.  Employee training and development was essentially eliminated.  Morale kept sinking. As for me, I no longer had a flexible schedule which allowed me to pick up my kindergarten son from school.  I felt guilty that he spent 4 hours each day in  lackluster before- and after-school custodial care, a tiny kindergartener among kids in 5th grade.  He learned how to swear and give the finger.  I felt guilty that I couldn’t always stay home for him or my daughter when either of them were sick.  And when I did stay home with them, I felt stressed that I wasn’t at work. I complained and whined to whomever would listen.  My wife got tired of hearing about it, and told me to look for another job.  I looked for other jobs, but they all looked pretty similar.  I felt like all I could think or talk about were the bad things about my job, boss, or company. And I got sick of hearing myself complain, sick of hearing the negative tapes running through my head.

Hating your job can be a great motivator

Eventually, I knew that my bad job wasn’t going to continue.  So I got sick of hating my job, but used those negative feelings in a productive way, and started doing some things to change my situation.  Negative feelings like anger and resentment can be very powerful, and they can drag you down.  But you can use the energy behind those feelings to push yourself to change things. Every time you think, “I hate my job,” you can add something to that thought, like, “so I’m going to do ___ today to change it.”  Do at least 1 thing each day, and keep a journal of your tasks.  At first, the things you end up doing might not seem like much, but over weeks and maybe months, you’ll see the massive snowball effect that these daily steps has built.  You’ll be miles away from the place where you started. For me, I found a job at a non-profit where I used by technical skills to dramatically build their membership.  At the same time, I started my consulting business.  I gradually built up my client list and consulting workload.  I learned how to run a successful business.  I became fully self-employed.  I can say without a doubt that starting and running my own business has completely changed my mental outlook.  Starting my consulting business–even though it seemed like an unrealistic lark at the time–has been one of the best life-changing experiences I’ve ever had.

What gets you going?

Like I said, negative emotions can be powerful, and you can use them to your advantage in a very positive way.  Use that negative energy to propel yourself forward. So what’s your motivation?  What get’s you going?

  • Hating your job is a great motivator. Don’t make any more excuses:  get out from under it and change your situation.
  • Maybe seeing others make several times your annual salary can motivate you.  Ask how you can compress the time it takes you to earn your current salary.
  • Do you want more flexibility?  You set your own hours when you become a consultant.

What do you have to lose?

It can be safe to stay in a bad situation that you’re at least familiar with.  But you could also step out of your comfort zone.  Having a bad job is good for you because it provides great motivation to change your situation. Starting a consulting business could be your ticket to freedom–it has been for me. Check out the following article  from Brazen Careerist for an interesting take on how long you should stay at a job you hate.

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R Go - May 9, 2012 Reply

Thank you for all the insight available here!
I have been in the leadership / management field for over 10 years and I am thinking about starting a consulting business. I was laid off a year ago and have been working in something completely different just to get by. I have all the content in my head from the years of study and learning. Would the tips on this site be applicable to my industry? Also, any suggestions on how to best create handouts / workbooks for the training I will be conducting both online and live/classroom training? Thank you so much for all your help!

    Greg Miliates - May 9, 2012 Reply

    Thanks for the comment! Bummer that you were laid off, but the good news is that if you start your own consulting business, you don’t have to worry about any conflicts of interest with your employer.

    I’ve tried to make the info on this site applicable to any industry or type of consulting–whether you’re in IT, telecom, personal wellness, whatever. The principles are the same. As for creating training materials, you can probably get by with creating your documents in Word, Powerpoint, etc. and then converting them to pdf. One note of caution: avoid being perfectionistic, since that’s going to get you stuck in non-essential tasks. If it were me, I’d focus on getting my first client, and THEN creating materials based on their needs and/or something generic that would apply to multiple clients.

Labor Day edition: tell me your weirdest or most noteworthy job? - Start My Consulting Business - September 2, 2012 Reply

[…] excessive sick time–when I had actually been attending my father-in-law’s funeral. Yes, a bad job/boss CAN be good for you if it motivates you to make a change–like starting a […]

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