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4 Insights on Why You Don't Want to Go to Work

Hating your job shouldn't be the norm. Learn why you dread Mondays.

Key points

  • Navigating work burnout
  • How to assess worklife balance
  • What if your work is wrong for you
  • How to get out of a work slump
 Ashley Byrd/Unsplash
Source: Ashley Byrd/Unsplash

Maybe you repeat, “I don’t want to go to work today” under your breath as you get ready each morning.

Maybe you think, “I don’t want to go to work tomorrow,” each night.

And maybe you know deep down inside, “I don't want to work anymore, but I need the money.”

Sure, everyone has days where they don’t want to wake up, don’t want to face the day, and don’t want to go to work. The commute seems like a burden and your boss is a hovering presence in your inbox.

But what if you’re just, like, done?

You don’t want to work anymore, period.

If you feel this way, it is likely a much larger issue, which takes bigger thinking than a motivational podcast and a Starbucks double shot latte. If you’re having a work-life-crisis, you should figure out the core issue so you can treat the underlying issue and not just the symptom.

But first, I know you know this, but I have to say it: You have to work. In some fashion. Unless you’re independently wealthy, in which case, go back to your infinity pool and relax.

The thing about life is that we have to work to live. What people don’t realize, though, is that we have a lot more control over how the experience of working can feel.

I’m not a head-in-the-clouds millennial either. Well, I am a millennial, but I was also raised in the Midwest and watched both of my parents break their backs to support us through the oil industry’s ups and downs. I understand work ethic. I have it. I also have an optimism and belief that things can be fundamentally good if we work hard enough.

If you don’t like something, there’s a way to improve it, even just a little. I never bought into the “punch your timecard and be grateful you have a job” mentality.

Alright, now that’s covered, let’s get into the top reasons you don't want to go to work tomorrow. These are pulled from some common insights on why my coaching clients feel like they don't want to go to work.

Generally, when you don't want to go to work, the underlying reasons lie within a few categories: work, home, health, and expectations. Each of these factors could be contributing to feeling like you don't want to work anymore.

You don't want to go to work because of the work environment.

There can be toxic people. You may hate commuting in traffic. You don’t like the fact that someone keeps microwaving fish in the breakroom (*cough* Matt *cough*). Maybe office life is not for you. All of these things can create a sense of dreading work.

In 2020, we all got a lot of experience working from home. In a report from Global Workplace Analytics, 77% of workers surveyed like the flexibility of working from home, 69% are satisfied with their well-being, and 76% want to continue to work from home after the pandemic is over.

But if you are in the 24% who don’t want to continue to work from home, your job satisfaction may recover once you get to be around actual human beings again and stop having so many Zoom meetings that could have been emails.

You don't want to go to work because your home life is hard.

It is a well-known fact in HR that employees’ personal lives can impact job performance. And it likely affects job satisfaction too. If stress from your personal life makes it hard to focus and enjoy work, you have options that you can speak with your employer about. Here are some things you can do to stop letting your personal life affect your work (via Forbes):

  1. Talk with your boss or employer.
  2. Don’t overshare.
  3. Set digital boundaries.
  4. Compartmentalize.
  5. Look into your companies Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
  6. Take time off.
  7. Get your emotional needs met.

You don't want to work anymore because your health is suffering.

When you don’t have energy, in general, your motivation will suffer. Your health is vital to performance on the job — and enjoyment. Making sure you are sleeping enough, eating healthily, and exercising regularly is so important to address. If you assume you lack energy because of your job and it is really a health issue, that will follow you from job to job.

Notice how I never said to make sure you are getting to sleep at a certain time, eating a certain number of calories, or doing high-intensity interval training? That’s because we each have different needs for each of those categories. What works for one person won’t work for everyone.

You probably know where to start when addressing your food and exercise needs, but for sleep, a good starting place is learning about chronotypes. As it turns out, some people are built to sleep differently — and that may be affecting your job satisfaction.

Myths about work keep you saying, “I don't want to go to work tomorrow.”

Another factor contributing to when you don't want to go to work is subscribing to these common myths about what work is “supposed” to be like. These myths give you the expectation that work is hard and leaves you not wanting to work anymore.

In order to make money, I have to work really hard and not like it at all.

Hard work doesn’t mean suffering. In fact, one study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that quality of experience was tied to the state of flow. The author defined flow state in a later study titled “Beyond Boredom and Anxiety” as “a state of peak enjoyment, energetic focus, and creative concentration experienced by people engaged in adult play, which has become the basis of a highly creative approach to living.”

The original study found that all of the factors that predicted quality of experience (except for relaxation and motivation) were more affected by the state of flow than by whether the person was at work or in leisure. And the exciting part is that flow states are much more common at work than at leisure.

The takeaway? You potentially can have a better experience at work than being unemployed — provided you find work where you can reach a flow state. While it may take a little more effort to get started (remember that motivation is not as positively affected by flow state), flow state is where the party’s at.

In this economy, I will be lucky to find something at all, even if I hate my job.

I won’t be a pollyanna with you: The current job market doesn’t look great. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the coronavirus pandemic has caused the unemployment rate to skyrocket, and the economy likely won’t recover until 2030.

However, finding a new job is not impossible.

The trend of work from home will continue, in which case you can apply for many more jobs than are located within commuting distance. That greatly widens the pool of jobs available to you.

Plus, as people have been saving their money by staying in and not traveling, there are suspicions that there will be an explosion in spending after the vaccine has taken effect, and companies will need to hire to meet demand.

And to embrace the subtlety, a job is not the only way to make money in 2021. The United States has seen a “startup boom” with many newly unemployed filing new business applications and going into business for themselves.

Many people are also getting started in the gig-economy and offering their skills on a project by project basis. As more people sign up for freelancing sites like Fiverr and Upwork, you would think that supply would outpace demand. However, thanks to all the newly minted entrepreneurs I mentioned earlier, work for freelancers is also growing.

Work always feels like this. Everyone hates it.

It's popular to grumble about work with friends. It's a stress reliever. But not everyone actually hates work. I guarantee that you know at least one person who likes their job. If they can, why not you? It may help to journal and do a little self-exploration with this one.

Journaling on these questions may help:

  • If you could make money and have fun, what would that look like?
  • What would it be like to make money without stress?

P.S. I know journaling seems like the last thing you want to do if you're in the "I hate my job" mentality, but it will help — my life coaching certification and psychology degree say so.

It’s not enough to just say I don’t want to work anymore.

Most people know what they don’t want. That’s easy. But discerning what they do want is surprisingly difficult. It’s just not something we’re taught.

Thinking about what we do want is not frivolous or self-indulgent. It’s simply efficient.

Because as humans, we’re going to find a way to get what we want even if we don’t realize it. We might as well let it surface, claim it, and get what we want sooner rather than later.

Here are some journaling prompts to get you started:

  • When you close your eyes, where do you want to go?
  • If you could go back in time, what career would you choose?
  • If you could find a job without the interview, what would it be?

Learn more about my career coaching services and the freelance lifestyle at Swandive Co.

References

Csikszentmihalyi, M., & LeFevre, J. (1989). Optimal experience in work and leisure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56(5), 815–822. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.56.5.815

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Beyond boredom and anxiety. Jossey-Bass.

Dresdale, R. (2017, June 28). Millennials, stop letting personal issues impact your work. Retrieved February 03, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelritlop/2016/11/15/how-millennials-ca…

Kelly, J. (2020, December 30). Game-changing predictions for the job market and the way we'll work in 2021. Retrieved February 03, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2021/12/30/game-changing-predict…

Levere, J. L., Harris, E. E., Cochrane, E., Rappeport, A., Dougherty, C., Lohr, S., . . . Smialek, J. (2020, June 01). U.S. economy Faces Long-Term RECOVERY, C.B.O. SAYS. Retrieved February 03, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/01/business/stock-market.html

McPhillips, K. (2019, March 15). Get to know your sleep spirit animal to time your workouts, meals, and more. Retrieved February 03, 2021, from https://www.wellandgood.com/chronotype-quiz/What should we do when an employee's personal problems affect job performance, mood and behavior at work? (2019, December 10). Retrieved February 03, 2021, from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/hr-qa/pages/pe…

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