They say that most people hate their jobs. But sometimes, work becomes a full-blown nightmare. How does this happen and how to fix it? That’s what we explore in this post. 

Things that go wrong at first

Self esteem takes a hit

Self esteem at the workplace is largely dependent on ability, aptitude, outcomes and emotional intelligence. In one or more of these areas, it takes a significant hit. 

You lose control

Going into work, almost everyone believes that they are fully in control. But reality hits as a rather rude shock. It starts small. Your work output suffers every now and then, and you get flagged for it. Before you know it, too many people think you are dispensable and everybody else is getting ahead.

You lose your goals

You came in with a 5 year plan. At the end of 3 years, you would post strong performance results, and by the end of the 5th year, you would get that promotion. But things derail your focus and, before long, it feels like a mechanical, deadend job without any goal or purpose.  

Introversion becomes your friend

You become afraid to show your face and, little by little, you get left out of moments, milestones and journeys. 

You feel like the weak link and dead weight

The people you work with treat you as the weak link and, pretty soon, you are treated as dead weight. Your manager may even target you and frequently be mean to you.

Attempts to fix it that don’t work out

  1. You try to focus on the work, but still get nowhere with it. 
  2. You try to take comfort in rewards (like salary increments and vacations), but you either get less than others or it’s just not enough. 
  3. You try to move up or move out, but the constraints limit your effort and the opportunities escape. 
  4. You try to change how the boss/manager sees you, but it doesn’t work. 
  5. You try to get an in with your coworkers, but it feels as though that ship has sailed. 

The burnout phase

Every day that you get into work, you feel like you’re running a marathon with a 10 ton brick on your chest. You are overworked professionally and trying too hard personally. Life itself becomes tiring even when your body isn’t actually doing anything. 

Wondering what to do

Extreme measures such as quitting, suicide, taking out frustrations on others, abusing substances etc become appealing. Your resolve is weakening. Life is darkening. 

How to fix it?

Increase effort-performance expectancy

When you make an effort, it must result in improved performance. Otherwise, don’t pursue the effort. How to ensure this? For social efforts to result in improved social performance, you must learn humor and empathy. For work efforts to result in improved work performance, you must learn the subject and its application well. Take courses. Do hands-on projects and exercises. So on and so forth. 

Increase performance-outcome instrumentality

Once you have the effort-performance equation under control, the next step is to ensure performance is always an instrument for some outcome. Social performance, for instance, could be an instrument for fun times and memories in the office. Work performance could an instrument for a promotion within a set time frame, or a new career opportunity if the existing one has hit a deadend. 

Increase your appreciation for an outcome

At this point, your efforts translate into performance and your performance translates into positive outcomes. Now the question is: do you value the outcome? What is the point of fun and memories if that means nothing to you? Similarly, what is the point of promotions and fancy work profiles if those mean nothing to you? Coming from a life of hopelessness, it can be difficult to value outcomes even when they have come. You are acutely aware of how quickly the outcome can change, and how quickly people can turn their backs on you. Thus you guard against the outcome’s value. How can you resolve this? Well, it will take a great deal of self-reflection.

There are broadly two ways to value a work outcome. You can value the work output itself. For example, researchers and scientists care most about their work. Or, you can tie the work to some other outcome. For example, work can be valuable because it gives you money to travel. In the end, you either live to work or work to live. If you live to work, then your work has inherent value. Whereas, if you work to live, then your work has value because it is a useful means to a different life aspect (travelling/seeing the world, going on vacations with your family etc).


That’s it for this one folks! Hope you enjoyed the read! Sound off in the comments below.