The Surprisingly Simple Reason Why You Hate Your Job

Written by on 10 Feb 2015

I learned something recently that rocked my world.


Like, literally, shook me to my core.


Side note—for those of you who were unaware, the “powers that be” changed the Webster’s Dictionary’s definition of the word literally to include its common misuse—figuratively. A la “omg that guy was so cute I literally peed my pants.” So now that the word means both literally AND figuratively, it actually means nothing at all.


We’ve officially broken the English language. Atlas has been shrugged.


Ok, soapbox down.


Just wanted to get your attention, because this is for real.


You know those things that you believe your whole life, but you have never been able to verbalize? Those feelings or thoughts that just make sense to you, but you can’t really put into words.


Well, this weekend, that all changed for me.


I was finally able to verbalize, vocalize, and realize what I had been feeling all along.


Our needs… are legitimate.


What you drives you to be successful and perform at your best… matters.


And oh-by-the-way, it’s not too much to ask.


Here’s what happened.


On Friday, I had a close friend reach out to me for some career guidance. He had reached a breaking point with his boss. Tension and miscommunication had mounted for so long that they had decided to have what we like to call a “critical conversation” on Monday to address the situation.


If you’ve never been privy to this type of conversation, consider yourself lucky.


This is some Seventh Circle of Hell type of shit, especially for the people pleasers among us.


And by that, I mean people like me…


Anyway, this conversation was going to address how to remedy their situation. Each party was charged with taking the weekend to come up with a plan as to how to fix the apparent suck-fest that work had become. He told me that the relationship was so strained that his options included changing functions, changing positions, or worst of all, changing companies altogether.


Talk about “critical.”


This being my whole business and all, I happily agreed to coach him through this conversation.


Just recently, I started working with this awesome new company that provides behavioral assessments to businesses. I asked my friend to take one, so I would have a better idea of where he was coming from and how I might be able to address his apparent lack of “fit” at work.


The assessment is pretty awesome because in addition to telling me my friend’s basic and natural behaviors, it also shows me his fundamental motivating needs. Here’s a breakdown of this man’s unique behavioral genius:


  1. He connects quickly with other people and works best in an environment that provides ample interaction with colleagues and teammates.
  2. He’s never met a stranger—if “people” was a language, he speaks it fluently.
  3. He’s Tom Sawyer reincarnate—even you would be painting that fence and loving every minute of it if he asked you to try. (I know you can get this reference… I know you can…)
  4. He has a fundamental drive to get things done and get them done fast—challenges aren’t stop signs, just speed bumps.
  5. He sees the forest AND the trees—he can give you the big picture and conform to the standards and rules around him to start painting that picture.


Basically, he’s the guy you want out in the world representing your organization.


He’s a natural seller.


I knew all of this going into the conversation. What I didn’t know, was his actual job function. However, after only about 14 minutes on the phone with him, I almost started crying. You wanna know why?


Here are the basics of this man’s job. Read ‘em, and weep.


  1. Researches and provides market information to senior analysts.
  2. Assists in appraising, including building reports, entering data into a database, and taking photos similar sites.
  3. Assists in researching and writing reports.
  4. Verifies and analyzes market conditions including demographics and other data.
  5. Discovers revenue and expense trends among past and current properties.


I don’t know about you, but AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!


Just writing that out made me want to vomit.


Images of TPS reports and missing staplers and bad Michael Bolton jokes started dancing through my head.


How on earth did someone with this vibrant, creative, engaging spirit end up in a job like this?


And better yet, how had he become convinced that this was where he had to be?


As my friend and I talked through the trajectory of his life and career, I realized something amazing. This “something” was what I had based my last four years of soul searching on, but had never been able to fully-articulate.


I paused, and I asked him:


“Do you believe that your motivating needs matter? Do you believe that asking for work that aligns with who you naturally are is a legitimate question? Do you believe that it’s not too much to ask to have an environment that allows you to perform at your best?”


“Or do you think we have to keep playing their game?”


Here’s the deal, y’all.


When you’re hanging out in a job that aligns with your basic behaviors about as well as a pre-pubescent 12-year-old’s teeth align with each other, then you’re making a huge mistake. You’re literally playing someone else’s game.


Yes, literally.


You see, so many of us have decided that we have to play by someone else’s rules. We’ve concluded that the only jobs that are valid or worth having are the ones that everyone else seems to want—the ones with status or prestige or a title or the almighty six-figures. We’ve reasoned that a “career” means bending and folding and squeeeeeeezing our square pegs into round holes, because hey, that’s what everyone else is doing.


And doesn’t everyone else look so happy…




It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how badly aligned my friend was with the job he was asked to do. And it would take a crazy (and horrible) person to look him in the eyes and say, no man, you have to stay there and make it work. Who on EARTH is that decision serving?!


No one.


That mentality is literally serving no one.


It’s not serving him. It’s not serving his company. And it sure as hell isn’t serving the world.


But we do it. We do it all the time. We do it because we think we have to, and worst of all, we do it because we think that the alternative… is just too much to ask.


That's the real reason why you hate your job...


Well, friends, I’m here to tell you—IT’S NOT TOO MUCH TO ASK!


It’s not too much to ask to find a job that allows you to be yourself for the majority of the day. It’s not too much to ask to find a place that allows you to use your unique gifts and geniuses to support the organization. It’s not too much to ask to discover a world that feeds your core, motivating needs and supports your natural, basic behaviors.


In fact, the most successful people in the world are doing just those things.




They are digging. They are pushing. They sure as hell aren’t settling.


They are trying.


For the longest time, I thought that asking for what I wanted in a work environment made me weak or lazy. I thought it was a cop out. I thought I wanted it because I couldn’t “hack it.”


What a load of crap!


The truth is, when you find something that aligns with who you are and what you love, you’ll never work harder, longer, and more passionately in your life. It’s not lazy or weak or cheap—it’s the exact opposite.


It’s legitimate. It’s worth it.


It matters.


Go do what matters to you. Go find something that fuels your needs and validates your behavioral geniuses. Go chase something that not only allows, but celebrates, who you are.


Trust me on this one…


It’s not too much to ask.


And it’s never too late.




Now, I want to hear from you!


  1. How does your job’s “personality” align with yours?
  2. What questions can you ask to bring more of that alignment into your life?


Share your story or your reaction in the comments below.

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  1. Siobhan   On   11 Feb 2015 at 12:52 pm

    This is so right on. We need to have discussions like this with our high school students. They are asked so often – what do you want to do in the “real world”. They should be thinking – what matters to me, what excites me, how do I find working doing those sorts of things? We’d have way fewer college dropouts.

    • Tracy   On   12 Feb 2015 at 8:32 am

      That’s beautifully said. I completely agree– this conversation should start at a much earlier age. Preferably an age where we still feel free to dream and haven’t been jaded by the views and opinions of others. Yes, that’s idealistic, but why not shoot for it? If it could result in even ONE more person who feels like they get to work on an authentic passion, then it’s worth it. Thanks for sharing, Siobhan!

  2. Martha Gipson   On   03 Jun 2015 at 6:47 am

    Tracy, this is excellent. Too often people suck it up until they are post fifty. This is a good lesson for the young. Peace of mind counts!!!
    I enjoy your usual clever, imaginative wit. Thank you!

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