Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

How do you stick with a job you hate?

I bet a lot of people here hate their jobs.  You might like coding, but there's little bits of BS that just make your days unhappy.  But you stick with it.

How do you do this? 

My only solution is to become bad at the job I signed up for.  Not idiotically bad, but I will just watch the occasional dvd, stare off into space, answer questions.  Then once a week I'll get interested in the code and kick out something worthwhile.  I don't even think my productivity will suffer.  Perhaps it will increase.  I've paid pretty heavy dues, and after a couple years now, they simply can't fulfill simple, cost-free requests of mine. 

I know quitting is an option, but I'm not considering that for the moment.

anon (for good reason)
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Fake hard work by posting copiously to Joel on Software.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Hey Ged,

are they hiring such people at RushCoding:-)

Prakash S
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Is posting copiously something they do on those adult sites I keep hearing about in all the email from strangers I get?

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Repeat tirelessly to self:

Must... pay... mortgage

Must... pay... mortgage

Must... pay... mortgage

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Put forth enough work to honestly earn your pay, but no more, and start looking for a new job.

Staying too long at a job you hate will cause big problems in your life.

Mark Williams
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

I second Ged's suggestion.  At least people hear the keys clicking over the wall.

Seriously, though, this is a tough dilemma that a frightening number of people seem to face.  Just like with life in general, I don't think there is an easy, canned answer, but one thing that does seem to help me is to come to terms with the fact that it really isn't practical to expect to achieve a sense of self-fulfillment from your job.

Unless you get to be your own boss and make all the rules and triumph or burn based on all your decisions, then it's pretty likely that your day job isn't going to give you much personal satisfaction.  (And often, even the "head honchos" aren't very happy either.)

For me, the way to go is to try not to stress out too much over your job, and to instead treat it as basically just a way to pay the bills.  I don't mean to completely slack off or start turning out lousy work - I just mean that it seems healthier to treat a less than ideal position as a stepping stone in your career and concentrate on changing your life instead of your job.  Set goals for yourself outside of work and try not to let a life-force-draining job take away so much of your energy that you are too tired to move towards attaining them.

Tim Lara (aka Anthony Robbins,jr.)
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Some suggestions:

- Stick to a 40 hour week as much as possible.

- Negotiate extra vacation in place of cost-of-living "raises".  A 2% raise works out to almost exactly an extra week.

- Live cheap.  Save like crazy.  Do you really need broadband, a cell phone, a fancy car, a boat, a $1500 bicycle.  Save it, then take a year off at some point.  Do whatever you want.

- Use good financial judgement.  This is just a correllary to the previous point.  People do weird things.  2nd mortgage at 10% while they have money in an account paying 3%.  Do the math and keep on top of this stuff.

All of these thing revolve around working as little as possible.  I think this is important for many technical types to avoid burnout.  I'm 28 and scared that my brain will be too toasted to do technical detail work in a few years.

I think keeping options open as much as possible is healthy.  The goal is not to end up as a 55 year old project manager, who's working 60 hour weeks and is miserable.  Sure, he may make $120K, but if it all goes to alimony and mortgages on a house that he only sleeps in, what's the point.  He doesn't have options.  Don't be that guy.

Bill Carlson
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

I was in that situation for a few months. Just kept putting feelers out every now and then, make lots of contacts in the field that you do want to work in, and something eventually came up. Now i'm sitting happy, coding stuff that I would really do for free, and have a 25% raise to boot.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

>>  it really isn't practical to expect to achieve a sense of self-fulfillment from your job. <<

I don't agree with that. I've had a couple jobs that provided a great deal of fulfillment. Of course, I was a little happier working on the crappy jobs before the dotcom bust because it was easier to get out if things became too frustrating.

I think its dangerous to depend on your job for all of your self-worth, but you can't just throw away those 8-10+ hours you spend each day going to work (including drive time). I don't have any good advice for how to feel good at work, but don't give up trying!

I also agree with the people talking about saving money. I refinanced my house. Those interest savings are nice!

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Even the best jobs at the best companies suck from time to time.

Professionals suck it up and perform professionally as best they can.  Plenty of good folks put in awful hours, at grinding, boring, even dangerous jobs to take care of their families.

You don't have to stay there forever, keep looking.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

>>Plenty of good folks put in awful hours, at grinding, boring, even dangerous jobs to take care of their families.

Very true. You should read Fast Food nation. It has an interesting chapter about the American meat packing industry and its workers who are really working in appaulling conditions. A lot of them get killed or injured on the job.

Think about how lucky you are.

Patrick Ansari
Thursday, August 22, 2002

> A lot of them get killed or injured on the job.  Think about
> how lucky you are.

Thanks for all your responses so far.  The above used to be a large justification, but I've come to think it's limiting.  If I really cared about people who are taken advantage of, I'd seek to get to a good position in life, then find out what can help them.  Sort of like taking the splinter out of your eye so you can help with your brother's splinter.

Taken the wrong way, the above quote can be a justification of accepting the status quo.

anon (for good reason)
Thursday, August 22, 2002

alot of $$$$

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Tightening up on finances and putting out feelers are smart ideas.  I might not even need to quit, if the company dies on its own.  I was actually asked not to sleep under the desk last night, after the others were gone, and I'd actually spent the day doing useful work.

Reminds me of visiting Scient in sf, and a manager bragged to me about an employee who asked for a sleeping bag.  But he turned down the request, for no good reason at all!  Now Scient is bankrupt. 

Thanks again for your thoughts!

anon (for good reason)
Friday, August 23, 2002

I owe, I owe, It's off to work I go...

I am always right
Saturday, August 24, 2002

its all about passive agression, for instance one place I worked had an absolutely clueless project manager, no idea of how software works. Man did she love status reports though, every time she came by my cube for a report, expecting to hear something like  "item b, will be done in 2 hours" I would pull up the debugger, and step her through at least 100 lines of code, asking her all kinds of technical questions like "did john finish coding class xyz, I need it to get a reference to ...) making her feel both frustrated and incompetant at the same time... point being if you can be creative in making other people suffer your day will be a little brighter. 

anonymous but frequent poster
Sunday, August 25, 2002

"if you can be creative in making other people suffer your day will be a little brighter"

LOL. Reminds me of a book everybody should have... "Bureaucrats and how to annoy them" by R.T.Fishall (aka Patrick Moore). The winding-up of another human being is a valuable stress relief technique.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home