how important is job satisfaction, really?

A reader writes:

How important is liking what you do?

I work for a great company that values employees. My boss is lovely. I get paid a decent wage and the hours are perfect. It’s flexible so I work from home most days and only attend the office for meetings once every other week. I can skip lunch and leave early or take a longer lunch and work late as long as I loop my boss in on it. She really trusts me to complete my work on my own initiative. I get stellar reviews, a bonus, and am the top performer in our department. There is even talk of a promotion in a few months as another employee is moving to a different job at our company.

When I was younger, I would have killed (not literally) for a good work-from-home job. And I know in a few years when I start a family, it’ll be good.

But I hate my job. I hate the actual work I do. It’s customer engagement so just talking to people via social media or email or website moderation. No phones at all. It’s easy. Most of the people are nice, not always but mostly. It’s just that I hate it. The few rude, completely unreasonable people ruin it. Though I do have some days that are just brilliant.

I don’t have to pay for a commute very often, I start and finish early so have time to run errands, go to the gym, etc. before others are even off work. I can cook lunch in my own kitchen so am saving money and eating healthier. There are tons of fringe benefits. Some days it’s easier to remind myself that it’s a means to an end and the flexibility is worth it, other days it’s not so easy. How do others cope with this?

I have disliked previous jobs because of poor management, bad working hours, horrible commutes, low morale, toxic work environments. This is the first time it’s been just the role that I dislike.

Do I really need to like what I do? All the advice says if you are unhappy to move on but is that really smart? Is there really a “dream job”? I’m worried that if I move on, I risk a much worse situation.

There’s no single answer to this. It depends on you.

That sounds like a cop-out, but it’s true. It all rests on what you value and how much, what you dislike and how much, what trade-offs you can be reasonably content with, and how this all affects other areas of your life.

Some people are just fine with a job they don’t really like, because they like the commute/coworkers/salary/benefits/hours/whatever, and that trade-off is worth it to them. Some people aren’t. Some people feel guilty or confused because they think they should be able to be okay with it but they really aren’t, and it’s making them miserable and/or impacting other areas of their lives that they care about.

There’s not a formula to this; it’s different for everyone. And there’s no right or wrong answer.

The key, though, is to be really rigorous in making sure that you’re being realistic. As you point out, you don’t want to leave a job with lots of good elements only to find that none of the other options are any better. So, how do you do that? You can talk to friends and others in your field to make sure that you have a good idea of what you are and aren’t likely to find in other jobs, be brutally honest with yourself about whether X or Y would truly make you happier, and get really, really clear in your own head on what various trade-offs are worth to you.

By trade-offs, I mean that you might decide that you’re willing to do work you hate for a couple of years because you’re socking away huge amounts of money, or it’s positioning you well for a step up that you’ll love, or you care about your employer’s generous parental leave policy more than anything else right now. Or you might decide that the whatever benefits you’re getting aren’t enough. The key is just to get really clear in your own head about how much different factors are worth to you, and how they all balance out across the whole.

Sometimes, once you do that math, it becomes easier to deal with the parts of your job that you dislike. When you’re dealing with a rude customer, you can think “this does suck, but by putting up with it, I’m getting to work at home on my couch with a cat on my feet and I love that more than I hate this customer.”

Also, in your particular case, is it truly just the small number of rude people that’s ruining it for you? If so, you might also try seeing if there’s a way to reframe that in your head. For example, can you imagine that they’ve had a terrible day and you can do them the kindness of pretending not to notice? (I’m always so grateful for people who do that for me if I’m grumpy.) Can you imagine they just received awful news that’s making them lash out, or that they have a terrible, embarrassing disorder that makes them sound angry when they’re not? There are some mind games you can play with yourself here that can sometimes make situations much easier. None of this is a magic bullet, of course, and it might not work for you — but sometimes it really does work, so if this is a major element in your unhappiness, it’s worth a shot.

{ 163 comments… read them below }

  1. Kyrielle*

    Also, be realistic about what you’d move on to if you moved on, and whether it would come with the same drawback. It sounds like this may be the only drawback. If it matters enough to make you move on, what can you do to select and land a role that won’t have the same issue (possibly in addition to other undesirable things)?

    1. Joseph*

      This is a big one right here. If your only drawback is dealing with a few unpleasant people, how likely is it that your next job won’t include dealing with such people? The sad truth is that a not-insignificant number of people tend to see customer engagement as “I’m paying you, so I have the right to be as big of a [insert pejorative] as I’d like.” Or they’re just having a bad day because, really, any time a customer wants to engage with a company, it’s very rarely to say “yeah, everything is great, just wanted to let you know you rock”.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I don’t think the OP’s dream job exists. I’ve worked in various places in various capacities (desktop job, receptionist, teacher, tech support, director-level, etc.), and in every single job I’ve had I’ve had to deal with a few unpleasant and/or rude people. I don’t think that’s avoidable.

        In fact, I’d say it’s much easier to deal with psychologically if the rude/unpleasant people are customers instead of people you work with. At least then you can kind of commiserate in an us vs. them fashion… just to blow off some steam.

        I fully agree with Alison that it really depends on you and whatever tradeoffs you’re willing to make. But if I were you, OP, I would stick with this job indefinitely and appreciate it.

        1. OP*

          Thanks. I’ll add this advice when I sit down to think about it this weekend and make my priorities list.

          I have had past jobs that I loved everything about and didn’t have to deal with rude jerks. Annoyingly it got outeourced to Slovania. Another one was a fixed term contract and ender with the project.

          My partner has a job that he loves the work, The people, everything but the commute which isn’t as important to him (plus we just moved closer to his work).

          I don’t think have a role and workplace that is nice is an unrealistic desire though too many jobs lack one or both of those things. But I also think I might have a different personality/viewpoint to you in that I think it’s easier to have one or two jerk colleagues as long as the overall environment is good because the public annoys me and a company’s reputation is a very powerful thing. However having a colleague I dislike is fine, as long as they aren’t outright hostile, you don’t have to like everyone you work with. It’s just important to be professional and get the job done.

          Hmm… I think I just learned something about my priorities from writing that. Another thing to think about.

          1. also a remote customer service person*

            Hey! Your job sounds a lot like my job, so much so that if you didn’t say you came into the office every other week I’d wonder if you were one of my coworkers. The big difference between you and me is that I’m non-local so I only visit the office a week at a time every couple of months.

            My question is this:

            Are you the only person on your team? If not, how often do you connect with the rest of your team? My team is constantly on a chat app talking about different issues that pop up through out the day and one thing that really helps me deal with the jerks is to talk about and laugh at them when they crop up. Especially being remote it can feel a bit isolating when it happens. It can really help to take the sting away if you have support from others dealing with the same issues. Knowing you aren’t alone in getting those replies can help a lot… and I promise you, you are not!

          2. orchidsandtea*

            OP, there’s an interesting article on APracticalWedding, called The Secret to Being Happy with Your Job. It looks a little closer at how to identify what, precisely, makes you happy or unhappy at work.

            Najva Sol writes, “I’ve had forty-plus different job titles over the years, and the ones that have made me happiest were not necessarily the titles I’d thought I wanted. … I like data, so I made a massive list of every workplace quality that had given me joy, and conversely, the ones that made me miserable. On the joy list I had things like working in natural light, ability to take mental health days, wearing what I want, feminist work environment, ability to use profanity, non-repetitive tasks, liking my coworkers.”

            My current job (sales for a consulting firm) is a bit soulsucking, but it hasn’t always been. Why? Because I love problem-solving with others, bouncing ideas back and forth, getting to the root of an issue and shouting eureka together. That only happens when we’re at the project stage, and sales have been excruciatingly dry. When we have sales I get to problem-solve to my strategic heart’s delight, plus I get praise and bonuses, and I’m proud of what we do. Now? I’m shouting into the void, doing repetitive work all alone, praying for a payoff. As soon as we’re busy again I might just love my job. If I don’t, I’m jobhunting.

            1. Clinical Social Worker*

              “On the joy list I had things like working in natural light, ability to take mental health days, wearing what I want, feminist work environment, ability to use profanity, non-repetitive tasks, liking my coworkers.”

              Sounds perfect, haha. Sign me up.

        2. neverjaunty*

          It’s much easier FOR YOU to deal with rude customers vs. co-workers. As AAM says, there’s no right or wrong answer here.

            1. OP*

              True. Plus it’s easier to say that A is better than B if you don’t have to deal with B currently.

      2. OP*

        Actually that happens a lot for us. It’s a very niche market and mistakes rarely happen.

        The difficult customers are usually people whose order got lost in transit (we resend for free) but somehow think we must not have done it in the first place, they wait to order until the last minute and want it sooner than we can deliver and/or the biggest one people who think that if they say something is unacceptable that I will magically be able to make it happen. We can’t deliver it next day internationally so telling me you demand it that it be made possible isn’t going to magically make it so. I’ve politely apologetically told you your options please pick one. /ranty rant

        But we do get a lot of happy comments. And also most of our social media posts aren’t about our products lots of cute caturday photos, photos of staff enjoying our hobbies, and bad pun jokes. Plus the occasional here’s a sale codes.

        1. JessaB*

          The other advantage to the problems you have is that you can set yourself up a bunch of boilerplate responses, either provided by the company or in a Word document or on sticky notes on your computer screen. You can sit there at home and cuss at the screen, or play music that’s rude about your customers (Elton John’s the B**** is Back, etc.) If you don’t have to talk on the phone (and for some reason I don’t think you do (sounds like text chats of some sort,) you can say or do anything you want at the screen.

          I used to do this when I managed an E-mail queue customer service system. Also if you have a nice clicky keyboard you can pound a little as if you’re typing angrily. You can even buy keyboards that are old fashioned with actual clicky keys like a typewriter.

          If nothing else I’d do up a boilerplate explaining international shipments if you get that one a lot. Any time a situation is repetitive I’d save time by not having to actually re do the information.

          1. OP*

            Haha I actually say in the post I don’t work with phones. It’s only social media. So like tweets, Instagram, Facebook posts/messages.

            I do have templates responses for a lot of it. Though reading the posts/messages and then editing the responses to fit is still very annoying.

        2. irritable vowel*

          My husband works from home, so I know how hard it can be to draw the line between “now I am at work” and “now I am at home.” If something work-related stresses him out, he brings that stress out of his office and into the living room in 2 seconds (and then I have to listen to him rant all evening, which is a different story…). Would this kind of work (having to deal with negative/irate customers) bother you as much if it was happening outside your home? Basically, you’re in a situation where people are being rude to you in your home – that’s not great! If you think that might be a significant issue, then perhaps trying to do this work from the office at least a couple of days a week, if that’s possible, might alleviate the negative feelings you have about it. It’s much easier to leave a bad experience at work when work isn’t also where you live.

  2. Nate*

    I remember once in my 20s, I had a job doing pest control sales. I’ve never really liked sales, but the money was really good, and it was only for a few months.

    That was the time I learned that money is less important than job satisfaction.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Which is the main reason I’m staying in my current job, in spite of the low pay. I could move and get a lot more, but other than the pay, I’m happy with everything else. Happy is good.

      1. Laura*

        It’s all about finding that balance! I know I won’t ever make a lot of money in my field, but I am beyond happy with my work, which makes up for it. :)

    2. annonymouse*

      I find the keys with job satisfaction are:
      Does it play to your skills/personal strengths?
      Are you comfortable doing what they ask you (on moral/ethical/safety grounds)?
      Are the coworkers you work with tolerable?
      Is your manager okay at their job or better skills wise?
      Is your manager reasonable and respectful?
      Is the commute on you’re happy with, long term?

      If you can answer yes to these then you have great job satisfaction. Some of these might be a no, but you can still be satisfied.

      Some of these should be nonnegotiable – like a respectful boss.

  3. Snowglobe*

    Great advice. I’d also add that if you really like the company, you could think about other positions with this same employer that may be a better fit. Maybe customer service isn’t your thing, but you could eventually transition to a different department that doesn’t interact with clients.

    1. kcat*

      That’s what I was thinking. If you’re on good enough terms with your boss, you might be able to bring up that while you like many things about your job, you’d like to look ahead and think about advancements that may be possible in the same company. Most bosses know employees will have this in mind at some point, so will work with people on a plan.

  4. BabyBeluga*

    18 months ago, I was in the same situation: I was a top performer at a great company, up for a promotion… a job that I found impossibly boring and stifling. I had been in situations where my job content was 80% interesting but my boss was terrible, or similar–but I now found myself in a position where my boss was great and all the trappings of my job were great, but only 20% of my work was interesting.

    One of my mentors (a VP of a Fortune 50 organization) told me he had never found more than 20% of his job content interesting, while another (a Director at a different Fortune 50 organization) said she had never found less than 50% interesting. I spent a lot of time thinking about what minimum % I required and decided it was more than 20%.

    I knew that if I continued to be bored, I wouldn’t grow as fast as I would if I were truly engaged in my job content, and I’d lose my motivation, and over time, I would start to lose my reputation as being a top performer. So I took a leap of faith and applied for (and got) a job in a tangentially related field that looked like it would be a fun challenge. And I got lucky–it turned out to be my absolute dream job. My boss was fantastic, my job content was 90% interesting, and I got a 50% raise to boot (I had known I was a little underpaid at company 1, but I had no idea by how much).

    I am so happy every single day that I didn’t try to tough it out at 20%-interesting job. My advice to you would be to start looking for other jobs that have the same lifestyle you’re looking for (WFH, etc.) but more interesting job content. Keep your options open and see how it goes. Hopefully you’ll get lucky and land your dream job too. Good luck!

  5. Adam*

    This is a tough one. There are so many ways to measure life satisfaction. Your career (or lack thereof depending on your situation) should only be one piece of it, but since you spend so much time on it it feels like a pretty big piece. I am very much a works to live type person, and really doubt I’ll ever have a job that I will be super excited to go to most of the time. But my personal barometer is that if most days it feels like I really have to drag myself out of bed to get ready for work then maybe it’s time to reconsider my work situation.

  6. Marcy Marketer*

    Also you mentioned a promotion– if the few rude people you speak to are truly the only terrible aspects of your job, perhaps you can get promoted within the company to not have to work with customers. My friend was an “account manager” who would go to gas stations to sell them on new brands of Marlbaro products. She hated it, but loved her job benefits, so she stayed there and within five years, she manages a great team of people and loves her work– and never goes to gas stations!

  7. Ann*

    I definitely agree with Alison about the small number of rude customers you encounter. When I think about the number of years that I worked retail, my mind always go to the jerks first, the people whose behavior was totally appalling and who took only a few minutes to completely ruin my day. But you know what? When I think about it some more, I realize that the vast majority of customers I encountered were fine. Not great (although I had some of those too), not awful. Basically, they moved in and out of my life with no fuss and made no lasting impression on me. That’s why the bad ones stand out more than the good or neutral ones.

    I’m not always good at looking at the bigger picture, and I know that my situation and viewpoint might be completely different from yours (especially since you’re currently still working with them, and my jerks are in my rear view mirror), but I think Alison’s advice in dealing with them will be very helpful for you.

  8. AndersonDarling*

    If I was in the OP’s shoes, I’d consider how much the bad customers are occupying my mind. Am I thinking about these frustrating interactions a day later? At the dinner table with my family? Is it infringing on the enjoyment of my regular life? If it’s that bad, then it may be time to move on. But if the bad parts of the job are annoying in the moment and then dissipate, well, I’d be able to tolerate it for all the other perks.
    Personally, written insults sting me harder than verbal insults, so I can understand the difficulty. But I would learn some coping mechanisms because it sounds like a great company to work for.

  9. BatterUp*

    I found myself in somewhat of a similar situation a few months back, and one thing that kind of helped was to just start applying to other jobs. 1. It made me feel like I was doing something to affect change in my life, 2. In meeting wih other companies, I realized that my setup was really too good to move on from at the moment, even though I hate the work I have to do.

    I have a toddler at home, and being able to be home by 5 or earlier every day, and not think twice about taking a day off to hang out with her when she is sick or I just want to spend more time with her, and not having to work weekends or travel is ultimately a lot more valuable to me right now- and that’s really why I took this job, because even though I LOVED what I was doing before. I think I would have regretted not giving myself the opportunity to enjoy my daughter as a baby.

    This is just my personal opinion btw, not knocking anyone who prefers to work more as a parents. My husband also did a similar thing by transitioning from contract work to a full time job, allowing him to be home more while we have a small child (he’s an engineer so that meant a significant pay cut, but far more stability).

    1. Snargulfuss*

      I echo this advice. I think applying for other jobs is beneficial in two ways:
      1) It can help you compare your job to other opportunities out there. For me, this helped me realize that I actually liked all of the autonomy I had in my then-current role and I wasn’t willing to trade it for a bigger paycheck (my source of discontent at the time).
      2) If you start looking before you’re desperate for another role you’ll likely be more objective as you evaluate other opportunities. When I applied and interviewed for the job I have now, I wasn’t really in need of a new job, so I asked all sorts of questions to be sure that the move would be a good one.

    2. La muñeca*

      I came here to say the same thing. I had a case of the job blahs about a year and a half ago and reading through job descriptions, going through a hiring process, and examining an offer from another organization helped me to clarify what I valued in my current role and wanted in my next role. As an example, the external role paid $10k more but required working for a person I wasn’t terribly impressed by, being present in an office every day, and navigating lots of bureaucracy. Turns out working from home and having awesome coworkers and heaps of flexibility within a somewhat chaotic organization is worth 10k to me – I had no idea until I compared it to a concrete comparable offer. And when an internal role opened a few months later, I knew it was exactly what I wanted.

  10. Whip*

    Alison’s advice is spot on, especially about trying to reframe the one part of your job that seems to be bothering you the most. I was also thinking that, since you said you often are able to get off work early, maybe you could make time for activities that allow you to have friendly interactions with people to sort of balance out the negativity of unhappy customers. Volunteering with kids is great for this (if you like kids, I guess). Also, you mentioned the possibility of a promotion. Will that position have more customer interaction? Or less? If it’s just going to be a position with more of the stuff you hate doing, then I think that’s an important indicator of whether or not you should take it. On the other hand, if the job will reduce the amount of time you spend interacting with angry customers, it might make it worth your while to stick it out for a few more months.

  11. Marissa*

    I’m struggling similarly with my job, except I am unhappy about my pay. Everything else, including liking the work I’m doing, is great—great commute, hours, benefits, office space, colleagues etc. This is my first job out of university, and I have been at it for 2 years. I took a lowish pay when I first signed on because I was still living with my parents, and I had no work experience to my name. Fast-forward 2 years, and I have my own place, a partner, and bills to pay. When my 1-year review came up, I was hoping for a significant raise. My boss left for another job, and I was essentially boss-less, keeping everything running smoothly on my own and taking on significantly more responsibilities. I only got a 3% raise, which wasn’t much; but my company said it was all they could do due to financial circumstances. I couldn’t really negotiate after learning that, so now I’m unsure of what to do. It’s not that I can’t pay my bills, I just feel I can’t really start saving towards the future on this income. Now that I have a partner, I will also have to support 2 people if for some reason he loses his job. I’ve started looking for another job, but not wholeheartedly. I keep wishing my company could just pay me more, and things would be perfect…

    1. Artemesia*

      I assume you are job searching with focus and conviction. You don’t have to be in a rush but you do need to find out what is out there. Places that underpay their staff should lose their best workers. Now you have experience so in the next year or so plan to find a place that will pay you what you believe you are worth.

    2. neverjaunty*

      A job that expects you to manage without any boss, and fails to reward you for taking on significant additional work, is not “perfect”, and if all they can do for stellar performance is a 3% raise – even taking their explanation at face value, which frankly I don’t – is a sign you should move on.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      Lessons to be learned — you can’t just hope for a raise, and also I think it’s usually time to move on after two years in your first job, assuming you haven’t been (formally, with compensation) promoted.

    4. overeducated and underemployed*

      The good thing about job searching while employed is that you don’t have to move on until you find something that actually makes you want to move on.

      Also, don’t worry about making enough to support 2 people if your partner loses his job. That would be awful, but it shouldn’t shape *your* life decisions, just like you being underpaid isn’t a reason for your partner to have to find a higher-paying job. It is worth each of you trying to build up an emergency fund in case of such a situation, whatever you can save, but not all households can get by on one income and that’s ok.

  12. all aboard the anon train*

    What a timely letter. I have the same problem. I have great fringe benefits and an okay salary, but I’m so bored. I think Alison’s advice rings true in that you need to know what you want and what you’ll trade. In my case, I’ve been looking for more challenges, since I know when I get bored, I start to slack off and while my slacking off has always still produced top-performing work, I’d rather be fully engaged in my work. Even if I don’t find the particular work interesting, I still want more of a challenge. So those are the type of jobs I’ve been looking for. I can give up a flexible schedule and lack of a commute for more intellectual challenges.

    1. Paige Turner*

      Same here! I’ve decided that the only thing I can do is to start looking. Applying for a job, or interviewing, isn’t making a commitment to accepting the job. If you start looking and decide, “Well, the other jobs out there are worse than my current job” then at least you know. Good luck, OP and anon train.

  13. some1*

    My only suggestion is to make sure that you are the type of person who still puts in the effort required when you don’t enjoy the actual tasks that you are doing – I found out the hard way how challenging it was for me.

  14. MK*

    I have always found the concept that everyone should pursue their “passion” professionally unreallistic and downright offensive to the people who have to do the menial jobs, which allows some of the rest of us to actually work in jobs we are passionate about. Also, that there is nothing wrong with a job being simply a way to fund your life.

    But, and this is a big but, that goes for jobs that you are indifferent about, not ones that you really hate. OP, I don’t know if the frustration of your letter is indicative of your general outlook in your work or just a result of a temporary spike in dissatisfaction that made you write to AAM, but if it’s the first, you really should find other work.

    Just don’t romanticise it in your mind: almost any job that you may find will have a element similar to the few clients who ruin your present job for you. And the job might not come with the other advantages of your present position.

    1. Artemesia*

      Some people have choices and some people don’t. Many people with good educational opportunities and good skills do have choices; it is a shame to accept work you don’t enjoy and can’t commit to if you have other options.

      1. MK*

        True. However, there are a few concepts that seem to have become accepted as universal truths, when they don’t apply to a lot of people. Like the idea that, if you love something, you will be good at it and you will succeed if you persevere; but you can be passionate about music and tonedeaf, or just not good enough to do it prefessionally. Or that there is an ideal job for everyone; but there are people for whom any job (as they are structured in the world we live today) wouldn’t be enjoyable and they simply have to find one they can tolerate. Or that, if jobs as-they-exist-today make you miserable, you can “create” something, by figuring out a gap in the market or becoming self-employed; when this also requires a certain mindset and also luck, or in some cases extraordinary talent or skill.

        1. OP*

          It also adds the issue that we need janitors. we need the people who colect our rubbish bins, and Street sweepers, the maids that change the hotel linens, construction workers, grave diggers, etc. There are tons of jobs that we need to have done for a city to function but I can’t imagine that everyone who does them is passionate about it.

          1. Master Bean Counter*

            I’ve met people who were very content to be Janitors. It fit well with their schedules, they usually worked alone, and they enjoyed being able to crank their music and do their job.
            One Janitor we had a former work place took so much pride in his job. He was completely awesome. When he retired we realize just how rare it was to have somebody that was passionate about that job.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Yes, I’ve had jobs like that, where it was mindless work a lot of the time but I really enjoyed it. Or tasks like that at other jobs. I feel that way about editing at my job right now–I take a messy document and clean it up and make it pretty, while rocking out on my headphones. :)

              1. Oryx*

                I’ve spent the past two days (with at least one more day needed) cleaning up massive spreadsheets of data. It’s one of those situations where I am so glad I get to listen to audiobooks at my job!

                1. Honeybee*

                  I love cleaning up massive spreadsheets. I know I’m a weirdo, but it’s really one of the tasks I enjoyed doing and don’t do as much anymore in my role.

    2. OP*

      I hadn’t thought about that. If it’s unsatisfying enough to make me write to AAM maybe that’s a good sign to move on.

      I took the job because I needed flexible hours at the time for family reasons but that is no longer necessary.

      This issue is still playing heavily on my mind and its not just the few annoying customers. It’s so boring. I definitely want more challenge. I feel guilty though job hunting to leave when I know there was a time, and probably will be again when this would have seemed like the dream job. It feels like this should be something I should just suck up as a means to an end. I’m just not sure that I want to..

      1. CM*

        If you’re bored, can you think of other roles you might want within the company, and talk to someone about them? If you like them and they like you, they might be willing to transition you to a more fulfilling role, and even if you were doing your current job for a while longer during that transition, it would be easier to take knowing that you’re on a path out of there.

        I also agree with other comments suggesting that doing informational interviewing or job searching would be a good idea for you, just to see what’s out there and get a better idea of whether the grass is really greener.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        I don’t think you have to make a definite decision, though. You can apply to jobs and just see what’s out there. You’re really in a great job-searching position. You don’t have to worry about appearing to be a job-hopper. You aren’t looking for a job because you’re about to be laid off. You can really take your job search at a leisurely pace and be picky about what you leave for. And if you see what’s out there, and find nothing better, you may actually appreciate where you work more and not consider it as boring!

        1. JessaB*

          This, and also being at home means you can search whilst being less visible to your bosses, they can’t see you looking up other jobs, etc. You have far more freedom to look.

      3. jhhj*

        It was a dream job, and now it’s not, but there are people who WILL think it’s a dream job right now, and if you find yourself a better job, you make someone else with the same family needs you have happy along with making yourself happy.

        That said, if you think you will need flexible hours next year for your soon-to-be-started family, maybe you want to hold off (or maybe not, things can happen). If you think “Yeah I am going to start a family eventually”, wouldn’t it be nice to be in your current dream job by then, so they are happy to keep you once you need flexibility again?

      4. librarygirl*

        If you have a good relationship with your boss maybe you should talk to them about to see if they have any other projects/roles you could take on which might help you shake out of this rut. Have a honest talk with them about your professional growth at the company since you seem to love it there so much; what do you need to do to take it to the next level, new skills, new certifications, etc. You mentioned the possibility of a promotion, perhaps that’s framework to use. Allison can probably give you a better script for this than I can.

        I just know sometimes managers, even great ones, get stuck thinking of their teams in certain ways and fail to see them as anything else, especially when they perform well at a given task. Talking to them might help you both to find new opportunities.

      5. INTP*

        If, at this point in your life, you feel like you would genuinely rather deal with the negatives of a different type of job (commuting to work and all of the time that goes into that, inflexible schedules, potentially more difficult coworker and boss personalities, etc) than the boredom from this job, then that is fine, and something to listen to. It doesn’t make you ungrateful to prefer X over Y when you used to prefer Y over X and certainly isn’t something to feel guilty about.

        If you think that the time that you will want a flexible job like this again will come soon rather than several years from now, it might be worth dealing with the temporary boredom. But if it is more of a distant future thing, then I think it’s worth looking for a new job, though I’d be very picky about what I’d leave this setup for.

      6. Ad Astra*

        You don’t need to feel guilty for job hunting. You just need to be realistic in evaluating other opportunities so you don’t end up jumping ship for an equally unsatisfying position.

        Also, is there something you can do outside of work that might make you feel more fulfilled? Many of the longtime janitors, waiters, and construction workers I’ve known chose to pursue their passions outside of work, which really reduces that pressure to be totally in love with your job. Sometimes the things you really enjoy doing are just not things that people will pay you to do; that’s ok. Not everyone’s passion can be equally valuable in the labor market.

      7. LeeLee*

        I felt the same things at my old job, and decided to take up a very leisurely job search: no applying to anything that wasn’t better! I only found an interesting looking job about once a month or less, and didn’t get many interviews. In the end it took 11 months to get a new job! But because I didn’t quit in the meantime, it was fine.

        It’s a really privileged position to be so picky about applying to jobs, I admit. But your current gig is really good in many ways, so don’t change for less!

  15. Terra*

    Anyone who has worked in customer service, especially long term, will tell you that burn out is a huge issue. It’s usually a combination of boredom and jerks. If it’s really getting to you I’d try looking into some coping techniques for burnout and/or some support/venting forums for customer service jobs and see if either of those help before you make a decision to leave. Sometimes just knowing that you aren’t alone helps.

    1. OP*

      Also this. I really customer service. And while technically my job is actually customer engagement and less cs. I still hate it. And I hate having the word customer in my job title. I took this role for the flexibility when my family needed me around more but I still need to work. Now that’s no longer the case. My previous roles were higher responsibility/more challenge but less flexible. I think I really do need to figure out what my work priorities are.

      1. Master Bean Counter*

        This is important! I love my new job. I work with good people. I love the work. It’s challenging and engaging. But my husband is a bit put-out because he got used to my old job where I only worked 30-35 hours a week. I loathed that old job for so many reasons.
        I’m happy now and my husband can learn to deal. ;)

    2. Temporary Null*

      I have had success with DBT for helping me tolerate unpleasant situations. I still dislike them, but instead of ruining my day or preventing me from doing something, they’re just annoying. It also helps to think about dealing with unpleasant things as an opportunity to practice coping skills.

      That said, even with all the coping mechanisms I have, I’d never want to be a moderator on many subreddits.

    3. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Oh, man, customer service will just really suck the life out of you. I’ve done retail customer service (in person) and my husband has done call centers. It sounds like your company has done a lot that makes you happy, though, which is good! The flexible schedule and working from home are big perks.

      But yes, the burnout is real. I’d see what other areas of this company you can move into, maybe when you talk to your boss about future goals you can let him/her know that customer service is an area you want to move away from.

    4. PolarBear*

      Agree with this. I used to be a flight attendant and emotional labour is a HUGE part of the job. I got serious burn out and began to hate every passenger – not good! I took some time off and then got an office job.

  16. INTP*

    As Alison says, this is far too individual to give a concrete answer to. For myself, job satisfaction doesn’t matter that much – it’s life satisfaction that I care about. I’m just not someone who is ever going to LOVE my work, it will always be a tool to facilitate the rest of my life, but I do care that my work doesn’t leave me so tense or drained that I can’t enjoy anything outside of work, and that it offers a lifestyle compatible with everything else I want in life. In your situation, that could go either way. Do you hate work so much that you are miserable outside of work too – dreading going back to work, still stressed from a rude interaction, etc? Is it more detrimental to your happiness than the annoyances of another job might be (like inflexible schedule, jerk manager, or commute)? Or do you find your work unpleasant while doing it, but find yourself easily able to leave it at work and be calm and happy outside work?

    Another thought – would it be possible to, in the long term, develop your role within your company so that you can continue to enjoy all of the perks of your job while eventually moving out of the customer interaction that you dislike?

  17. Mando Diao*

    I can relate to this OP. I only go to the office once a week, my manager and cowokers are super nice, and I have a huge amount of flexibility. However, I can see the writing on the wall and I’m aware that I’ll hit max potential around the 3-year mark. I don’t necessarily want to get too comfortable with a very, very small business whose future doesn’t always seem solid. I’m here for the pay, the reference, and for the “break” that this position gives me after a terrible prior position.

    That said, I think customer service is its own animal. Even if it doesn’t make you fully miserable, there’s a certain drudgery to it. It also depends on the industry. I once worked for a company that sold aftermarket car parts, and the older male customers were really terrible to us young women who were answering the phones. The company’s demographic was not likely to believe that young women knew what they were talking about when it came to cars. It was a miserable situation even though I didn’t mind the day-to-day routine in the office.

  18. OP*

    Thanks. But the promotion will mean a bit more money (and I am underpaid for my area/experience but not massively) but having to answer more of the complaints and resolving disputes I didn’t even know are a thing because its on a system I haven’t used yet. So not that appealing. And I am likely a few years off an internal transfer (plus it’s a start up with a staff of 25 so not many roles anyway).

    I think some of the comments are ringing true for me. It might not just be the few rude people (I am always polite and treat everyone how I would want to be spoken to but that doesn’t stop it being annoying). It might also be that I’m massively overqualified and have more experience then this job needs so am really bored/unchallenged. They always say no 2 days are the same but boy they can be pretty similar.

    P.s. thank you for answering Alison

    1. Oryx*

      I had a job that was very similar in terms of how I felt: I was far overqualified in both education and experience and bored out of my mind every single day. It also dealt with a lot of customer interaction and it turns out that was the breaking point for me — I’m just not really built for doing that day in and day out, so I took a leap into a somewhat related field with far less customer service and something that challenges me, in a positive thought-provoking way, every single day.

      I also took a pay cut but in the end it was well worth it and I’ve never been happier.

    2. Meg Murry*

      Is WFH actually part of the problem – you are bored, then dealing with annoying customers, and then you are alone at home and fuming?

      We are dealing with a super irritating client right now, and while it is frustrating, it really helps to be able to walk down the hall and say “Did you get the email from JerkClient? Can you believe him? Arrgggh, I hate that guy!” and then have a few minutes to gripe and moan, then sigh and get down to it.

      Would more interaction with your co-workers/peers help with that? Or do you have other friends with a flexible schedule that could meet you for lunch so you could get your gripes out and move on?

      Otherwise, could you develop some kind of ritual to put these negative interactions behind you, so they don’t cloud up your day? At my office, we’ve been known to print out nasty emails and then stomp on them, rip them up, or even take them outside and set fire to them. On days that I work from home, I make a point of officially “ending” my day by packing up my laptop, clearing my desk and then making a cup of tea which I relax with in a room other than where I was working.

      1. LizB*

        This is exactly what I was thinking — if you’re working from home, your only interaction during working hours is going to be with clients, and that can be really hard. One or two cranky/unreasonable clients can set the tone for the whole day, if you don’t have friendly coworkers you can vent to or chat with to clear the air. I’m an introvert, but I’ve found that I do best when I only work from home a few days a week — going 8 hours with no in-person interaction is really nice sometimes, but if I do it too often I get a little stir-crazy. Being able to IM or text coworkers is helpful, but being able to just turn around and ask someone about their weekend, or tell them about the ridiculous email I just received, is way better. If you have the option of working from the office, and other people will be there, you might try going in a few times a week to see if that helps your mood/enjoyment of the work.

        1. LizB*

          P.S. A friend once told me that her foolproof trick for coping with rude people was to assume they were terribly constipated and that was what was making them act like jerks. Similar to the imagine-they’ve-had-a-bad-day advice, but a bit more specific, and kind of amusing if you have a particular sense of humor. :)

          1. OP*

            Thanks. I’ll try that trick.

            I have some office based colleagues. And I chat a lot with the two guys who do the customer service (because our work overlaps). And we have a private chat where the three of us moan about weird/annoying customers. The days I’m in office are nice but because we have hotdesks it’s not always great as too many people not enough space.

            But thanks for the suggestions. I will try this out.

          2. Kelly L.*

            I always told myself their feet hurt. I think it grew out of seeing some rude customers who were wearing spectacularly impractical-looking shoes, and then thinking about how grumpy I get when my feet hurt.

      2. Ad Astra*

        That’s an interesting insight. I have a job that could theoretically be done from home all or most of the time, but I wouldn’t want a WFH situation because I’d miss the office environment and my coworkers. So I don’t know if that’s part of OP’s problem, but it would likely be part of my problem in that situation.

  19. Anon for this one*

    I feel for you, OP. I don’t have a perfect answer but I can share that, if I’m being honest, I’d put up with a position I got 10-20% satisfaction with but worked from home full time vs. a position I had more satisfaction with but work in an office. I made the jump to an office position and I’d rate overall satisfaction around 50%, but if an opportunity came up, I’d probably go back to dysfunctional-but-full-time-WFH-job. I miss working from home so much. Alas, I don’t want to be a job hopper, and I’m hoping down the road I can turn this job into WFH at least part time.

    At one point, I tried to weight my job satisfaction based on 10 key components of things that mattered to me. I didn’t weight them. I determined that I could be happy enough to stay as long as 3 or more boxes were checked. If 5 boxes were checked, I was generally really content. When only 1 or 2 boxes were checked, I was getting ready to leave. It surprised me how little I needed to feel content, but that barometer helped me through years at my last 2 positions and helped me identify trends, forecast what the future would look like, and ultimately steered my decisions in how to manage my career. Your 10 most important factors may differ from mine, but may include things such as: Schedule autonomy/flexibility, pay, vacation access, relationship with manager, if you’re learning things you can apply to future positions, your tolerance to your day to day tasks, bonus/commission structure, position/pay comparison to others in industry, company leadership, coworker relationships, upward mobility, how you feel on Sunday night, etc.

    1. OP*

      Thanks! That is really helpful advice.

      That’s kind of what I fear. I don’t want to look back a few years from now and wish I had stayed. Though typing that now I want to cringe at the suggestion of years in this job. Which probably says something.

      I will weight out my 10 and see. Your list looks really good. I think for me I like wfh but it’s the autonomy and having a boss who trusts me to just get my work done that is more important.

      1. NK*

        You can always apply for new jobs and see what’s out there. Maybe you end up with a new job that fulfills you more, maybe it makes you realize what you’re not willing to give up. I think it’s better to job search when you’re moderately dissatisfied than when you’re insanely, “get me the heck out of here” miserable.

  20. mara*

    What if you hate… all jobs? My best friend got her PhD a few years ago and planned to be a professor, but her academic field has no positions. She’s had some office jobs related to her field & interests since then, but can’t stay in them because working in a hierarchy and taking direction from others makes her feel physically ill by the end of the day. She does not value career development or more money than what’s needed to scrape by, but she knows she needs retirement savings etc. I don’t have any advice to give her, because it seems like she hates everything about steady work instead of a particular area or individual aspects.

        1. Vanishing Girl*

          My partner has the same problem: he worked hard to get a PhD in order to get a job as a professor, and it hasn’t happened and likely isn’t going to as his field has fewer and fewer jobs each year. He claims he’s hated all the jobs he’s ever had. Those jobs are few and far between and never full-time and he thinks it’s just all work that sucks. But I think it’s due to his frustration that he can’t do the one thing he always wanted to do, which admittedly is a huge thing.

          This is a big problem, especially in academia now. It’s sold in academia as the end-all, be-all, as your identity. So when you can’t make that happen, it’s devastating. I’m going to show him the other “I hate work” thread and see if it resonates with him.

          1. Rana*

            Yes. This sounds familiar to me, too, although I’ve learned since that I’m happiest in jobs where either I’m calling all the shots or the ones where I have very little responsibility for making decisions. It’s the ones with lots of responsibility and little power or unclear hierarchies that drive me bats.

            I’ve ended up freelancing, though, because my skill set is one that doesn’t transfer readily to direct employment without a lot of in-field experience (which, of course, you can’t get without in-field experience). It has been a good match in terms of the work – I like what I do and I place a very high value on flexibility, so it’s perfect for me in that way. But financially? Not so much.

            At least now there are a number of resources for alterna-PhD work, like Versatile PhD. If people are still early in the transition, go check them out. (I myself waited too long to admit to myself that I had no future in academia, and that’s a large part of why I’m not really employable outside of it any more.)

    1. TL -*

      Also I don’t know what field she’s in but there’s definitely hierarchy and order taking in academia. Less so when you’re a PI but there can be quite a bit during a postdoc (depending on the lab, of course) and still a significant amount when you’re pre-tenure.

    2. Jennifer*

      I have a friend who literally hates every single job she ever has (she works in tech). I just don’t know what to say any more. But at least she still goes to the job, unlike other folks I’ve known who hate working and passive-aggressively would do things to get themselves fired or otherwise out of work all the time. I used to know one guy who “coincidentally” would slip, fall, and hurt his knee on the first week of almost every job except one I knew of him holding. (He lasted in the one job for a month before quitting.)

      I think to some degree you really just do need to suck it up, though. Nothing’s gonna be perfect and having money to live is the priority above all else.

  21. I'm Not Phyllis*

    Agree – it totally depends on you. I find that I can handle a job that I dislike much more easily than an environment that I dislike. For example, years ago now, I worked in a call centre … the company treated us well, I liked my coworkers and my boss, and it was a nice, calm(ish) environment … but the work was repetitive and pretty dull. I stayed for years. In a more recent job, I worked at a company that I believed in doing work I loved, but my boss and my coworkers were extremely negative, and I got out as quickly as I could – which was still not quickly enough.

  22. KT*

    I have no advice but if you would like to hire me as your replacement, let me know…this sounds like my ideal job!

    1. OP*

      People keep saying that to me. Which makes it harder. The number of times I tell a friend about my work and they go “are they hiring?” Kind of scares me a little. If I leave it won’t be too soon (still have to land a new job first). You have to be based in the UK to apply as well..

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I understand why that would make it harder for you, but if you’re genuinely unhappy, that doesn’t mean the job is horrible—just that it’s not a good fit for you. Your friend(s) may be a much better fit for it.

      2. KT*

        I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make it harder! What is a nightmare for one person can be a dream for another :)

      3. Angela*

        And a lot of people think things sound good until they are in the situation. Sure working from home is nice, and I miss that perk (just switched jobs last month and no WFM ability here), but a boring job is never more boring than when you are at home and could be doing a million other things. At least in an office, you are all bored together. There is something to break up the day.

        1. OP*

          You didn’t make it harder KT. It’s totally fine. And it’s true just because someone else will want it doesn’t mean it’s ideal for me.

          Angela that’s only half true. Being bored sucks. But being bored at home is okay because I can put the laundry on, put the kettle on and have a cuppa, watch some tele, etc. So long as I still check my work and reply/like if needed. Being bored in the office is worse because I have to pretend to not be bored and I can’t do other things at the same time.

      4. Stan*

        I did a WFH job for several years and constantly had people asking how they could get hired in. I enjoyed it at first, but found myself hating many of the things that come with working from home: little contact with peers/co-workers and difficulty shutting off outside of work. Plus, I got really sick of my house and I love my house! It was hard to walk away with some many people talking about how lucky I was to work from home. My take is that many people don’t understand what working from home entails. I know I didn’t at first.

        I’m doing basically the same work now in an office setting and find it much easier to do. The ability to chat with co-workers and simply walk away at the end of each day has been a sanity saver. Plus, I’ve started liking my house again.

      5. Oryx*

        It’s funny, I used to think all I wanted was a WFH job. Now I have a job with that as a perk and at first I took full advantage, using up all of my monthly allowed hours, but now it holds less appeal. I much prefer the office environment.

      6. HarryV*

        The grass will seem better from the other side! OP, I’m a a very similar situation. I’m full time WFH, decent wage near 6 figs, the job is challenging enough, great colleagues and bosses. My only qualm is I feel I can do better. I’ve been at the same company for 13 years. There is a reason for this which I won’t divuldge but I had an obligation to ‘repay’. I’m done with that obligation and have been applying to other jobs. Part of me am afraid of leaving something so good and end up in a much worse place.

  23. Jake*

    I struggle so hard with this! So hard.

    First job out of college: decent pay, great benefits, best boss I can imagine, relatively interesting work, some great coworkers, and a sane client that genuinely wants the project to move forward. Unfortunately, this was accompanied by upper management that lied and cheated in order to make their department look good and a horrible location with an even worse commute. Plus the room for advancement was blocked for the next 5 years.

    After 2.5 years, I’d had enough of the games and backstabbing, so I left for a position in a decent area with great pay, decent benefits, less interesting work (but still not boring). This worked out great for the first year. Then our client changed, and I was “promoted” to handling 3 positions at once and working for an insane client that genuinely doesn’t want the project to move forward.

    After another 2.5 years, I’ve decided to move on, but I have a growing fear that nothing will be good enough. What will make me miserable at my next job? Will I ever be happy? What am I doing wrong to keep finding misery? So far I’ve found about 2 years of doing something is when I start being miserable. Is it coincidence, or do I just get bored and start looking for reasons to be unhappy?

    I don’t know, and I don’t have any advice beyond Alison’s. Do know that you aren’t alone in your confusion.

  24. CaliCali*

    I think part of this — which is a hard exercise for anyone — is that it’s very easy to determine what you DON’T want from a job. But what DO you want? Looking for that answer is harder than looking for a new job, which is why it’s relatively easy for many people to hop from the frying pan into the fryer. And the reality for many of us is that it’s unlikely — possible, but not probable — that you’re going to find that magic combination of exciting work, good pay, fantastic coworkers, convenient/desirable location, great management, and an overall functional company. That’s out there, but it’s not common (I have many of these, but not all). So as Alison and others have mentioned, you have to determine what the hierarchy is, and also learn how to be at peace with things that are lower on that hierarchy but not at the top. Otherwise, you’ll be perpetually dissatisfied, which is ALSO relatively common in the working world, but not a way I like to live.

    1. OP*

      This is very true as I have discovered while applying to new things. Its easier to look a job advert and go “nope not what I’m looking for.” But it’s harder to find roles that I say “yes yes that’s what I want!”

    2. overeducated and underemployed*

      There’s also the luck issue – if you apply for 10 jobs, and they all have some different number of elements of the magic combination, you may just have to choose whether to accept a job based on the timing of interviews and offers. “Settling” can mean giving up on some important stuff, but holding out can mean losing opportunities and gambling that you think you’ll get something better, which…isn’t always a winning strategy.

  25. Q*

    I don’t like my job at all. But they keep paying me to show up and deal with their BS and I like living in a house so I keep showing up. It is in no way fulfilling or enjoyable but it pays the bills and that’s my number one priority.

      1. AnotherHRPro*

        When I leave for work everyday and my cat looks at me with sad eyes I tell him that I’m off to make money to buy him kibble.

  26. Maria*

    I’ve been going though this for the last year. Comfy salary, 35-40 hours a week, work from home, supportive boss, etc. But I don’t care at all about the work I’m doing (graphic design). I feel sick every morning because I’d rather lay in bed than respond to another mind-numbing client request.

    It became a lot easier once I stopped focusing on “I hate this job and want to leave” and started looking forward to “I’m going to be a web developer”. Focusing on my future role makes my current job more bearable and gives me something to be excited about. I’ve gotten involved in local meetup groups and it was really encouraging to hear that other people in that industry have respectful bosses who don’t expect them to work past 5.

    Have you thought about what type of job you want to move to? What do you *want* to do? Different industry? Different responsibilities? Something without customers? Management? Once you figure that out it will likely be easier to decide if you want it badly enough to move on.

  27. newlyhr*

    I think the person who likes everything about his job is rare. For me, it’s about the overall picture and my priorities with a job. In my last job, I loved the work, but really struggled with the interpersonal drama in the workplace. , I decided that having a sane workplace was a higher priority for me and so now I have a job where I really like my team/boss/interpersonal vibe but the job itself isn’t quite as interesting or challenging. Overall, I made the right decision, because the environment piece was much more important to me than the day to day tasks of the job. I am finding other ways to keep my brain stimulated with what I do outside of the workplace.

    1. LifeOrDeath*

      This! I found out that working in a high drama family business getting screamed at and belittled regularly doing a job I love and am trained for – graphic media pre-press – was not worth my sanity. I now work for a newspaper in the department that handles death notices and obituaries and have never felt as appreciated in my life!

  28. Minion*

    I can understand how you’re feeling, though in my case I think I just hate working period. I’m in a dysfunctional office and that really compounds the feelings I have about it, but if I’m just completely honest with myself I just flat out don’t want to work a job. There, I said it. Not unless it would be doing something I really love doing anyway, but who hires someone to read books all day? Or play with puppies? Or nap?
    I have read several motivational type books about loving what you do and I have to say that’s much harder than these authors would have you believe. I do well at my job and I don’t really hate the actual work, but it really takes a lot to get up every single morning and force myself to go do something that I couldn’t care less about in the grand scheme of things.
    But, I do it because the alternative is to have nothing. Bye-bye home, cars, TV, cell phone, groceries…
    So, I would say just come to a place of acceptance that not everyone does something they love. It sounds like there are some really great aspects to your job, so enjoy those and try not to let the jackasses get to you. And, yeah, remember that the crazy isn’t always on public display when looking into other jobs – I found that out at my current job. You may end up in a much worse place. But you’re smart enough to figure that out. Good luck and I hope it all works out for you.

    1. OP*


      Getting paid to read would be amazing! But not likely to happen.

      I do actually like work. I like having something to do with my time, I like solving puzzles, organising things, I like a good challenge. I like interacting with people. And I like a paycheck. The problem is my job lacks the first bit about a challenge or being interesting in the least bit.

    2. Snargulfuss*

      I’d LOVE to get paid to read too. I think about this a lot and my realistic brain usually takes me to “yeah, but if you got paid to read you’d probably have to read a bunch of really mediocre manuscripts.” Basically I want to read what I want to read…so it truly is a dream job.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      I feel the same way. I never understand people who win the lottery and don’t quit their jobs.

    4. AliceW*

      The day I graduated from college I was planning for early retirement. Because even though I work hard, I don’t like to work. I just like a paycheck. I finally realized that was my number one goal, a bigger paycheck so could retire early so it didn’t matter if I had 5% job satisfaction, worked long hours, had a bad commute etc. Now I am three years away from retiring in my 40’s. It was all worth it. Figure out what you want in life and go after it. If you actually want job satisfaction- don’t stay in a job that is unfulfilling.

      1. OP*


        That is really helpful advice. Did you just picture your early retirement whenever you got annoyed at work or?

        1. AliceW*

          Yes. Still do. I realized early on anything that I loved doing was probably going to pay very little so I never thought of my work as anything other than a job for pay- not a career. I did not need to derive any pleasure from my job (so long as I did not hate it). I concentrated on world travel and other things to enrich my life outside of work. But some of my friends definitely want to have a career they love and they consider their job a big part of feeling enriched in life. I never did. I learned to not stress over it. 3 more years and I no longer have to work for a paycheck.

      2. Lily in NYC*

        Wow, how exciting! I hope you enjoy every minute of your well-deserved early retirement.

      3. Minion*

        Congrats on your soon-to-be retirement. I am so envious of you right now! But I truly do hope you retire and really get to enjoy your life every single day. :)

  29. ThatGirl*

    I can relate to a degree – and I had an experience last year that made me think about this stuff.

    Right now I work for a big company which is pretty good to its employees, I make decent money, have pretty good benefits, and I work from home two days a week. My boss is great, my co-workers are reliable and my schedule is flexible. I also use my editing skills and problem-solving skills a lot.

    The actual nitty gritty of the work, I am indifferent to. If you asked me to name a cool company to work for, I would never name this one or this industry.

    But back in December I was briefly recruited for a potential PR/editing job at a BigLaw firm, and in discussions with the recruiter I realized that while my salary had the potential to double, I would have ended up in a very intense, high pressure environment working 10 to 12 hour days. And not only was that not worth it to me, it helped clarify for me what a next job might look like if I did decide to move on – that there are a lot of things about environment and small perks and flexibility that matter to me.

  30. Amber Rose*

    I think some people are just not cut out for work.

    I hate all jobs. I resent them for eating 90% of what will be a short life, wasting that time on answering stupid emails. I feel this way even about jobs that I otherwise basically like.

    Figure out how to make work tolerable OP. That may mean finding fun things outside of work that you need your job to fund. That’s ok too.

    1. OP*

      I don’t think anyone is “cut out for work.”

      Most people (if not all) would prefer not to work so we can pursue our hobbies and interests. But we need paychecks. And yes life is too short and work takes up too much of it. I think what I really am asking is if I am okay with my working time being spent on a role I hate for the benefits it gives. Or if I am spending that much of my life at work if I need more from it. Thanks that is something to think on.

      1. AnotherHRPro*

        Just remember there are always trade offs. With work you are balancing so many things like commute or location, pay, benefits, autonomy, rewarding work, boss, colleagues, personal development/growth, meaningful work, etc. I do not think a job exists that has a perfect mix with no negatives. You just need to prioritize what is more important and what can you live with/without.

  31. Chickaletta*

    The grass is always greener on the other side, isn’t it? But OP, it sounds like you have a really nice set up. The best career advice I’ve heard (maybe I’ve said it here before, but it bears repeating), is not to find a career that you love, but to find a career that supports the lifestyle you love. It sounds like you found that! You already have what a lot of people spend their lives trying to achieve in retirement.

  32. TN*

    I think a large part of it is also your physical/emotional response to the job. OP, you mentioned that the small number of rude people bother you and “ruin your day” but is it enough to make you physically ill? Or are you emotionally drained at the end of each and every day? I’ve left jobs that were literally making me sick and just draining me of all emotional capability – those go beyond ruining my day, they implode it before it starts (because of how much you dread going to work). It sounds like you dislike the work but enjoy some really great side perks and benefits – do those outweigh the actual work? Maybe mentally you are bothered but content every other way. As an outsider, the perks of your job seem to outweigh the actual work side – I would stick with it as long as what is beneficial stays beneficial. The minute the benefits stop, leave, don’t work out – then I would jump ship.

  33. Cat like that*

    This letter is so timely for me. I’m feeling the same as you are OP, but for entirely different reasons. I like the work I do because it’s challenging and utilizes my skills and I work with people who are great 85% of the time. But there other aspects (low pay, long hours, long commute, etc) that are causing me to look elsewhere. And I keep feeling like I should be grateful that I get to do work that I enjoy on a daily basis…but I still find myself crying when I get ready in the mornings, or having to leave my dinner half-eaten because of an emergency text from my boss, and it’s getting to the point where it’s not worth it.

    This weekend I am setting aside some time to sit down and write out what I want from a job as well as what I need. What are the non-negotiable? What would make me happier on the day-to-day? What do I want long-term, and how do I get there? I think doing a similar exercise might be helpful to you. Start making a list or even just jotting down notes and thoughts. Then see what repeat patterns start to emerge. Other commenters gave lots of helpful advice that I will be using as well.

    Good luck, and whatever you end up doing, I hope you are happy with your decision.

    1. OP*

      Thanks. It’s good to get a view from someone experiencing the reverse sort of.

      I think I am going to sit down and write it all out. Hopefully months from now I’ll get to be an AAM update of some sort. I’m sorry your work is making you cry/miss meals.

      Though I would also suggest since you like your actual role that you also make a list of ways that your current work could be improved and see if that could be done. Like less long hours, when you leave the office the work ends for the day so it doesn’t interupt meals, wfh a day a week, etc. If any of those might be options. If not viable for your role/workplace then you can use this info with your desired job listing to see about leaving. Just a thought. I would do this for my role but it’s not viable to change the majority of my job responsibilities. The potential promotion they want me to train for will involve more work I dislike. Everything else is fine.

      But yes I do need to sit down and make a list of what I want. And then order it for priority. Weighing in my previous workplace experiences to be sure it isn’t wishful thinking/unrealistic. And also to be able to go this is what I liked from x job and disliked this, how long did I stay. Why did I leave. To figure out what really is the most important part.

      I hope whatever you decide on makes you happy.

  34. Lily in NYC*

    I don’t like what I do all that much. But I like what I get for doing it. And to me, that’s what matters. But if you find yourself dreading work every day, it’s probably not worth it.

  35. Nicole Michelle*

    I know someone may have already said this in the comments, but with it being as the OP says “customer service”…does she want more of a challenge? Does she want a more social media management based position? If it’s more so THAT, than maybe develop a side gig. That’s what I had focused more on when I was at a dull day job. I built up a blog, starting trying to focus on freelance, and started writing a lot. It helped me a lot with day job satisfaction. I’m one of the few that has stayed long term at my job in a position that many leave due to it’s dull-dome. There are some major perks to your position…so I’m wondering if you can express to your boss that you’d like something different if it opens up? If you can?

  36. Former Retail Manager*

    I think Alison’s advice is great and on point. I also love many things about my job….the actual work not being one of them, and those things that I love FAR outweigh the bad. Whenever I am down about things, I have literally made pro and con lists and the pros always outweigh the cons. I also don’t think it’s realistic to believe that you will ever find a job that you are 100% happy with…there will always be something and it just depends what “somethings” you are able to tolerate. If you decide that leaving is best for you, I’d implore you to not be lulled into thinking that the grass is greener on the other side. I have known many people who left their jobs chasing something, be it money, title, a challenge, flexible work schedule, whatever, and ended up worse off for it. You would essentially be leaving a known for an unknown. All this isn’t to say that isn’t what may be best for you, but it’s definitely something you should consider.

    1. HARRYV*

      That’s what I am afraid of. With kids, mortgage, and a wife who is SAHM, I don’t have much appetite for risks…..I am extremely good at what I do. It is a niche. I am having a hard time finding a match at a company with better benefits. What if it doesn’t work out and I end up getting laid off? Something to ponder…

  37. Parfait*

    I’m not passionate about my job, but I am good at it. And it gives me pretty phenomenal benefits that would be hard to find at a new job. Six weeks of PTO just isn’t going to be offered to a brand new employee. Sometimes it is kind of sad to think that my favorite thing about this job is how much time I get to spend not doing it, but hey. Everything is a tradeoff.

    1. Liz*

      I would love to know what job this is that gives you six weeks of PTO! That is amazing!

  38. TFS*

    I am in a very similar situation. If I make a pro/con list about my job, the pros way outnumber the cons…but then I just feel like scrawling “BUT I HATE IT” in big letters across the entire list. I definitely recommend job searching, even if you don’t end up taking a new job. I’ve found that job searching gives me some hope and perspective, even though in the end the job I have now always seems like a better choice than the new ones I’ve been offered.

    1. Kira*

      Maybe what we need is to figure out what’s not showing up on the first draft of the pros and cons list. OP listed pros and cons in her letter, but then working through the comments identified a new “con” that seemed to explain why even the “pros” weren’t satisfying.

      I might say that my my pay is satisfactory, the hours are flexible, I’m well respected by my team, and I like the field I’m in. But then I remember that the pay is lower than industry average, the “flexible” hours are nitpicked, what I thought was respect from my coworkers actually turns out to be passive-aggressive miscommunication, and most of my time isn’t spent on work in my field. Then I start to see why all those pros aren’t adding up to a happy job.

  39. Advocate*

    This might be a good time to research work or life coaches in your area. Ask for recommendations (word of mouth) and/or check reviews before paying money. Most reputable coaches offer free consultations to see if they’re a right fit for you.

    A coach can help you figure out why you hate your job – the real reasons – and what you can do about it.

    I strongly recommend at least researching this option. For the first time in my life, I’m working with a work/life coach and she’s really helping me!

    1. HARRYV*

      Good advice! I actually have some friends who are very successful in their fields. They will be more than happy to talk over coffee or dinner.

  40. Loose Seal*

    Alison has a good point in her last paragraph.

    Years ago, I was working as a bank teller in a drive-thru. One morning, I waited on a woman who was quite possibly the rudest person I had ever had as a customer. I tried my best to be pleasant and helpful in the face of her rudeness but by the time she drove off, I was trembling. Then I saw her turn her car around to come back through the line and I braced myself. I figured I had made a mistake with her transaction and she was coming back to berate me further.

    But when she pulled up, she actually apologized to me profusely. It turned out that, while at work, she had just gotten the news that her father had died. And she was grieving, worried about her mother, and irritated that she absolutely had to do her banking before heading off to their town. She was so obviously distraught that she had taken all that out on me that it made me tear up too.

    Since that time, every time I’ve had a rude customer, I always tell myself that this could be the worst day of their life but they still have to go about doing essential business. It’s probably not true. Most of them are probably jerks every day of their lives. But it helps me stay on an even keel to think that they are just having a hard day and I perhaps can make it a smidge easier on them by not being drawn in to their negativity and hatefulness. Plus, is easier for me to let it go after I’ve made up a story in my head about why they were so rude. OP, I encourage you to try it.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’m impressed that the woman, on the worst day of her life, took the extra time to come back to apologize to you.

      1. Loose Seal*

        Me too. It really underscored that she was a truly nice person who was having a bad day. Frankly, I don’t think I would have come back if it were me. I’d be too embarrassed. (And we weren’t her regular branch. She could have avoided me forever after that if she wanted to.)

    2. HARRYV*

      This is the exact reason why I set my e-mails to delay send in intervals of 15 min. I’ve rewrote mails several times over and probably saved my job!

  41. Jimbo*

    “It’s easy.”

    It depends on the person but that’s not how I ever want my job to be described. I look for a balance of challenging but not more than I can handle (which usually means you have a good manager). I enjoy driving home thinking about how I can solve a big problem. And I want to constantly be learning things and keeping my skills sharp. But I work with a guy who does the bare minimum (and his pay reflects it) and that is his top goal – do the least amount of work and never do work outside of office hours. Whatever floats your boat.

    Of course, being happy with your work is a luxury when the pay and benefits are at least adequate. My current company has higher-than-average turnover but many of the people leaving have never worked anywhere else. Other than the pay (which is lower if you worked your way up vs. got hired in at a more senior position), there are a lot of positives here. I’ve been other places and hated my job so I’m satisfied here unless something amazing comes along.

  42. mary*

    I work in sales, selling something I do not care about. I happen to be skilled at this so I make great commission, have great bosses and coworkers, have flexible hours, and am relatively stress free about this job. I am so much happier here than when I worked somewhere I was passionate about with nightmare people. Plus, because my free time isn’t occupied with being anxious about my job, I was able to take up many new hobbies which fulfill me in a ways this job lacks. I always focus on the fact that it would be unlikely I could do everything else I do outside of work if I worked somewhere else. Maybe somewhere down the road, but not now. I don’t know anyone who has a perfect job and I think that might be a wild goose chase. Try to appreciate all the good instead of focusing on the not good.

    1. HARRYV*

      That’s what I tell myself. My current job allows me to WFH where I am able to pick up my kids from school and enjoy that time with them. The alternative would be to stuck in an office till 5pm then traffic for another hour daily and miss out on that time.

  43. lfi*

    I think it’s fairly important. I mean.. I feel as though I’m in a transition period. Been here under a year, manager recently left, things are just up in the air. I would like to get back to setting long term goals with a manager and work on a development plan to keep me learning and engaged.

    But, I’m salaried, really don’t work more than 48 hours a week, have a great location and don’t do weekends. The work life balance/trade off is worth it for me.

  44. Thyri*

    I’m experiencing a similar situation. Job is my dream job on paper, of course there are some annoying/boring parts about it, but if I were job hunting and saw my job, I’d apply for it. But I spend 6 or 7 hours a week just commuting. Boss is hands-off and unresponsive to a fault, sometimes unapproachable. Makes backhanded comments about my work. Not a huge fan of a the people I have to sit next to all day. Pay is livable but barely. Benefits are eh. Hours are kind of flexible. I’m working from home as I type this, but I’m never entirely sure it’s OK since boss won’t commit to a WFH schedule or have a straightforward conversation with me about it so I’ve stopped trying. I’m unhappy enough that I’ve applied to two jobs closer to home and am interviewing for one. I’m trying very hard to keep in mind that no job is paradise and I’m trying to be realistic about the not-great parts about the jobs I’m applying for. But this commute is really getting to me, and I’m at the point where I’m OK with a more boring job just to work 3 minutes from home. I can do my current job as a freelancer if I miss it that badly. Just be realistic about the tradeoffs and don’t get so hung up on one aspect of your job that you toss out the baby with the bathwater.

  45. Bibliovore*

    okay so that was me. Great job, good pay, good benefits, kind and generous mentor boss, five blocks from my apartment. Hated the work. Was good at the work. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I be grateful? I did seek professional help. I did do the What Color is Your Parachute workbook to see what it was that I did like/love about my work and identify my strengths. Within a year a job opening came along in a different but tangential profession, I was ready to take the leap of faith to that one. It did mean a pay cut, it did mean going back to school. And yes, now I do have a job that I love. (and no I don’t get paid to read) So I would say stick it out AND explore other options.

  46. CS*

    I would agree that “it depends” kind of sums it up. But I’d also keep in mind that there are not a ton of jobs out there with a flexible schedule, reasonable hours, good pay, and a seemingly unlimited work-from-home policy.

  47. Devil's Avocado*

    There is lots of great advice here, but I just anted to share that until recently I had a job that made other people go “omg are they hiring?” (unlimited work from home, unlimited vacation, define my own work hours, freedom to determine the type of work I want to take on, paid a very fair wage for the role, prestigious organization, etc.). I left it for a role that has super defined work hours in a huge bureaucracy that is very hierarchical and subject matter that most people probably find less interesting…. and it was the best decision I ever made.

    I discovered that I actually like having more structure and knowing what is expected of me. I am closer to home. I am getting paid a little more, and I have a pension. I am home by 5 every day. I never think about work at night or on weekends. It allows me to pursue things I am interested in after work. My boss and coworkers don’t even have my cell phone number except in our emergency call list… It is honestly the happiest I have ever been in a job.

    I just want to encourage you to think about what is best for YOU, not what is coveted by others. I think hearing about how “awesome” my former job seemed from the outside kept me in that job longer than I would have stayed otherwise. Even though that job was awesome from the outside looking in, it didn’t fit well with what I wanted out of my life.

    Also, when I finally resigned and told people where I was going I got everything from “wow, that is a big change” to “OMG you are going to hate that so much!!!!” However, I am glad I saw it through and did what was right for me.

  48. It's me hiding again, LOL*

    I’m feeling semi-like this too. I do have a good job at a great company, and I mostly like it–except for one duty that sucks and I wish I didn’t have to do. The place isn’t perfect by any means, but I like all my coworkers, I have flexible hours and can work from home when needed for the first time EVER (yay!), and I get paid enough to pay my bills and indulge once in a while.

    Is this what I want to be doing for the rest of my life? No, but it allows me to work on that outside the office (and during slack times–no one cares as long as you get your work done). The company is large enough that I might find other opportunities within it when I want to look for them–but as my job itself is changing due to a change of management, that might not be necessary anytime soon. For now, it works.

    The one thing I hate I did manage to get moved, so it doesn’t impact my scheduling any more, but I still have to do it. It’s only weekly so it’s not super bad, anyway. In time, I may work my way out of it, especially if my duties ramp up to the point where it’s no longer feasible for me to interrupt what I’m doing in my department and help out in this fashion.

    I’ve been reading down the comments and it seems that you are leaning more and more toward leaving this job, if not the company, OP. If you really feel like this is what you need to do, then take some preliminary steps to look around or get more information about the kind of work that would make you happier. And good luck! :D

  49. Shinsekai-Yori*

    “Can you imagine […] that they have a terrible, embarrassing disorder that makes them sound angry when they’re not?”

    I’m sure you didn’t mean it that way, but this seems pretty condescending towards people who do have issues with how they unintentionally come across to others (for instance, some people on the autism spectrum have this problem).

  50. RevengeoftheBirds*

    So, I would say for myself job satisfaction is a BIG DEAL but that may not be the case for others. It all comes down to what you value – I have friends that don’t need to like their job they just need to like their pay cheque. I NEED both. Seriously.

    Right now — I’m in a job where I like about 95% of the work (the other 5% is stuff that will be taken off my plate by workflows.) I also respect my boss [which is important to me,] and I know for a fact he’s an expert in our field. He RIPS apart my work (which I want because I want critical feedback and tons of it.)

    That being said, I think this is a RARE situation.

  51. kt*

    One useful framing I’ve seen (NSFW): the first question in is “What is your favorite flavor of *&^! sandwich?” Elizabeth Gilbert talks about it in her book “Big Magic,” too. Every job or endeavor will suck some of the time, so one question to ask yourself is what type of unpleasantness will be more or less bearable for you. Maybe you’ve found a drawback that you just can’t deal with. What are the drawbacks that you *can* deal with?

  52. Patty*

    Maybe you should find non-work ways to have more social interaction and see if that makes the job seem easier… working for home can be isolating, I’ve done it myself..I get that.

  53. Fifi Ocrburg*

    I can be a cranky, “unreasonable” customer, and the most effective way to deal with me is to either give me what I want or let me deal with your manager.

  54. Van Wilder*

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I like my coworkers for the most part. I like the culture, the flexibility, the pay. I don’t love the long hours but the flexibility makes up for some of that. I just don’t like the work. I just don’t care about taxes or tax returns. I haven’t figured out what to do yet…

  55. Erin*

    A little late to the party, but…

    You don’t even have to talk to them on the phone?? Oh my goodness. I would not, not get rid of this fantastic job. I don’t think it’s that important that you lack passion for what you do. You can find a nice hobby or volunteer gig for that. Here, you can be passionate about all that freedom and flexibility you get.

    Also, I *love* Alison’s last paragraph. I always try to give mean/rude people the benefit of the doubt – maybe they’re having a spectacularly bad day, and don’t normally behave in this manner.

Comments are closed.