by Andrea M. Darcy
During the pandemic you had time off work, or didn’t have to go in to the office. And something in you is just… done. You don’t want to work anymore. To the point that maybe you are even starting to be be a difficult employee.
Is there something wrong with you?
You are far from alone
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), almost one in 10 British citizens changed jobs yearly in the decade leading up to to the pandemic.
Several lockdowns later, that number has soared.
Research by HR software firm Personio suggests that four in 10 employees in Britain are now looking to leave their job and change roles, with the number rising to a shocking 55 per cent when looking at 18 to 34 year olds.
Don’t want to work, or depressed?
It is true that depression can see you lose interest in things that you were fine with previously, including your job. Apathy is a possible symptom of depression.
If it’s depression, you will likely have lost interest in other things you usually liked, too, such as hobbies and socialising.
And you would have other signs of depression, such as:
[Take our free ‘Stressed or Depressed?’ quiz here].
When we hate the job instead of admitting we hate something else
It’s socially acceptable in our society to moan about hating work. It’s less acceptable to admit you hate your marriage, or being a parent. Or that you have made a huge mistake choosing the lifestyle you did, and feel bitter you work hard when a partner sits at home.
So sometimes, if we hate work, it’s because we are transferring over our dissatisfaction about other parts of our life.
If it’s the job, what is the real problem?
It’s important to ask good questions and find the real problem with work. Otherwise you might impulsively make a decision that can result in taking yet another job you hate, or on a spiral down into money issues and hopelessness.
1. What is ‘work’ to me?
Do you dislike the nine to five lifestyle? Or being like everyone else? Or is it more that you hate making a living doing what others tell you to?
‘Work’, is simply ‘effort to produce a result’. Any other definition says more about you than work.
2. Is this about the present, or the past?
And when you say ‘I hate work’, is it even a present day hatred? Or is it about difficult past experiences?
If, for example, as a child you had parents who always criticised you for ‘not working hard enough’, or a teacher who called you ‘lazy’ because they didn’t understand you had a learning disorder? You might have an unconscious block to ‘work’.
Instead of letting this lead you to constantly self-sabotage, consider finding a word that feels less negative for you. “Making a living’ is one. Or you might feel most inspired by ‘benefitting from my talents’ or ‘being resourceful’.
3. Is my job aligned with my personal values?
photo by: Ian Schneider
Many people mistake the values of their parents or friends with their own, then wonder why they often feel uncomfortable, fatigued, or a bit lost.
When we take the time to discover what really matters to us, and start making decision from that space? Things change. A job aligned with our personal values is no longer a job, it’s a vocation, and the hours fly by.
4. Is it the job, or the people?
We aren’t all made to get along. Sometimes we just end up in a team that is so different from us we feel uncomfortable. We like efficiency, and are stuck with a creative team that wastes hours brainstorming.
A careers counsellor can help here. They might do personality tests to help you see your strengths, and what kind of job would work best for you. It might simply be a case of moving to a different part of the company you are already in.
5. What is my working style?
Hate the 9-5 grind? It is far from the only way to work. Many people make just as much money (or more) from freelancing and working the hours they want, or from changing their business model. For example, going from working one-on-one with clients to teaching courses instead.
What if the truth is that the problem is, well… you?
Does each job you take tend to lead to the same conflict? It takes a tremendous amount of courage to admit that we might be the problem. But it’s only when we see what the real root is that we can find solutions that actually work.
- Do you have a relating issue that means you always end up in opposition with colleagues?
- Or a victim mentality so you are sure everyone is against you and are paranoid?
- Is the issue a problem with authority?
- Or is it about low self-esteem, to the point you take jobs you hate, or sabotage your jobs and end up ashamed and wanting to leave?
All these sorts of issues tend to relate to unresolved past experiences. This could be the way we were or weren’t parented. Or it can be traumas we lived through that changed the way we see ourselves, and how we act in response to stress.
By dealing with our unresolved issues, our life at work can change without even focussing on it. Because we change. The small decisions we make daily change, and the way we interact with others, too.
Of course we can be so trapped in our own patterns of thinking and behaving, we don’t even realise there is another, more helpful way of being. We need support, like talk therapy, to see other perspectives and find our way forward.
I really, really just don’t want to work anymore
The idea of sitting on your couch all day just watching TV might sound ideal, but give it a try and you’ll find it gets boring quite quickly. Humans are geared to learn and evolve. We feel good when we have a purpose.
Think of the last time you felt really alive. Truly buzzed with energy and excited about life. What were you doing? Was it a hobby, were you helping others, learning something new? Somewhere, someone in the world is making a living from that very thing. To them it is ‘work’.
Need help figuring out who you are, what you want, and what sort of life and career would make you happy? We connect you with a team of highly rated London therapists. Or use our online platform to find a UK-wide therapist today.
Still have a question about why you don’t want to work anymore? Ask below.
Andrea M. Darcy is the lead writer of this site. To the shock of everyone, she quit a successful career as a screenwriter to retrain in counselling and coaching and become a mental health and wellbeing writer, and is far happier since. Follow on her at Instagram @am_darcy