This Is Why You Dread Going to Work

dread going to work

It wakes you up in the middle of the night. Your palms sweat and your mind races. Toss, turn. Toss, turn. Until finally the alarm goes “bing!” and you face the source of this anxiety. What is filling you with dread? I know. The anticipation of going to work.

Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. Studies suggest that many of you are gripped by more than just dread — you are actually walking into hazardous work conditions. Nearly one in five workers say they face a hostile or threatening work environment. Grim stuff, right? It does not have to be.

Even if you are not in a position to make sweeping change, you can take steps to lift this kind of workday dread.

It starts with taking micro-actions each day. These can add up to macro-level change — helping to create a kind and fulfilling workplace for yourself and the people around you.

Here is how to start:

Seek out meaning
Set aside time and write down what work makes you feel most satisfied. What tasks do you get lost in — the good kind of lost? Next, really think about the work you are doing and how it is helping your team reach its goals. If you feel like you are unclear on this, use what you have on your list so far as a conversation starter when asking your manager for guidance.

Support the team
A little team spirit goes a long way. Investing in the people around you, supporting them, and building them up will make the days more fulfilling. (And usually more fun.) After all, success is rarely achieved alone. It comes from connecting with your team and working towards something together. Our team at Aha! honors this through something we call “hatitude.” But whatever you call it, research shows that peer-to-peer recognition is proven to benefit employees and companies.

Grow your skills
Think about how you can proactively grow your skills — even if it means looking beyond your day-to-day duties. You might consider reaching out to cross-functional teams to learn more about what they do and how you could contribute. You could also talk to your company about learning opportunities. See if they would be willing to pay for you to take a class or attend a conference. This might not be in the budget, but you never know until you ask.

Look inward
Misery can be contagious. If you are bringing it to work with you each day, others will feel that and react with even more misery. So dig deep and really think about your own actions and attitude. How could you bring more kindness to the workplace? How can you replace negative behaviors, such as gossiping or complaining, with positive ones? Shifting your attitude will not just impact yourself but everyone around you.

Remember why
If all else fails, remember why you go to work each day. You might not feel invested in the role or company — but I bet you feel invested in your own life goals. Many of you are working so you can support your family, pay off debt, or save up for retirement. Some of you need to build experience in your field in order to land a more fulfilling role. On the days you feel truly dreadful, remind yourself how your job is helping you reach these kinds of goals.

Not every day is perfect and certainly no job is perfect. But no one should have to live in dread.

This is why I encourage you to focus on the areas of your day that you can control. Step by step, you can help build more meaning, growth, and happiness at work.

Over time you might find that you are waking up with less stress. And who knows — you might even start looking forward to the “bing!” of your alarm.

How do you build more meaning at work?

About Brian and Aha!

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 roadmap software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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  1. YoureWrong

    This is bad and wrong advice. First, this piece contradicts itself big time: it first states (correctly) that the reason you are feeling dreadful is because you are walking into a hazardous or toxic work environment. The article then goes on to list “micro-actions” to improve your situation, and most of these micro-actions are essentially finger-pointing; “Even though this is a toxic workplace that is destructive outside of your control, it’s YOUR responsibility to not dread your job.”

    I will first say that if you are dreading going into work every day, I feel for you greatly and I want you to know that there is so much better out there for you and that this job won’t be the end: it won’t be the end of your career, of your life, of your happiness. It is also not your fault that you experience dread about your job. Despite what you may feel, you haven’t done anything to deserve it. Your workplace is just run by and encourages whatever toxic behavior is creating your dread.

    It’s one thing to have a very rare day or two per year to dread, it’s another thing entirely where you are feeling dread every time you walk into your place of employment. That is unsustainable, and there IS something you can do about it.

    You can walk away.

    Just hand in your two weeks (if you can even stand doing another two weeks) and walk away.

    This article tries to guilt trip you into “remembering why” you go into work every day, and that “remembering why” is essentially just a laundry list of bills you have to pay. That isn’t why you’re alive is it? Is the reason you’re alive to contribute to your 401k? Do you really want to run your mental health – and subsequently life – into the ground just for the hope that maybe your kids won’t have to suffer like you are right now? Even though there’s probably a greater chance they will if you continue down this path?

    Forget this cushy, self-serving article that tries to guilt you into trying to solve a fundamentally broken organization with your individual “contributions”. Just walk away. You’ll be a lot happier and healthier in the end.


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