Why do we stay in jobs we don’t enjoy?

January 20, 2020

Why do we stay in jobs we don’t enjoy?

January 20, 2020by Jackie Marsterson


What is the answer to that question? Given that there is a large percentage of people in jobs they do not love I am sure there are many out there who can relate to this. Being in a role that is not a good fit for you, waking up each day with dread, can affect your overall wellbeing and enjoyment of life. As the saying goes; ‘life is too short so make every day count’. So why do we keep punishing ourselves to do something we don’t like? Being human is complex and as a result, many things can become complicated.

In my experience as a Career Coach here are some of the answers to that question:

Fear of the unknown

What if you make a change and that change is worse than the situation you are currently finding yourself in. What if that change is not what you really want after all? These are some of the doubts that start to creep in, and then we tell ourselves that it is better to stick with the devil you know.

And when those thoughts continue to go around and around, we become trapped, frustrated and disillusioned. It is at this stage that you need to take a step back with a logical hat on and look at the overall cost of staying where you are and the opportunity’s change might offer you. Your thoughts are just a mindset; it is not your reality. Step out of your comfort zone.

No direction or clarity

Many people are unhappy in their roles but don’t know what they want to do instead. They are reluctant to give up a role when they have no idea what the next one might look like. I find this is a big barrier and is often a form of resistance, once again related to fear. Self-reflection is required here, understanding yourself and what makes you tick, assessing your strengths and what makes you, you! There are some great online tools to understand your strengths such as https://www.viacharacter.org/character-strengths Small steps are the key. When you are clear on what you are good at you can start to focus on those areas through research. It may require further study but if it makes you happy it is so worth it. With any form of change, there will always be a compromise.


What price do you put on your happiness? We need to be realistic as there are bills to be paid.  Staying in or going into a role just for money will never end well. If you make a change into an area where you will be feeling more valued and fulfilled success will often follow.

Too late to change

This mindset often goes along with I am too old to change! Many people have made changes in their careers later in life and many have been successful in a mid-life career change. Time is going to pass and you are going to get older whether you spend time doing something you love or not. You may as well spend time doing what you enjoy and what you are good at. It is never too late to make a change.

Resistance to change

We don’t like change as it thrusts us into the unknown, especially when it is a big change such as a change of job or career. The thought of coming out of your comfort zone to learn new processes, meeting new people or being the new person can feel overwhelming and so, therefore, it goes in the too hard basket and we remain stuck! These feelings are especially heightened in employees who have been in long term roles or careers. It is more comfortable to stay and be unhappy than leave and go into unknown territory. It is important to spend a short period of time acclimatizing to a new job situation, which in the long run will increase the levels of happiness and satisfaction in a new-found career.

Whatever your reasons for staying in a job or career that you hate, if you are finding this is ‘you’, consider making a change. Life goes by at a very fast pace, look back at how quickly the last year went. It may take time and that is okay. Better to have short term pain with long term gain.


As a Career Coach, it is my job to help people transition into roles that they enjoy, find fulfilling work and thrive. I have observed many that have made this change and it is a joy to be part of. Working with me will help to keep you on track, hold you accountable, discover what suits you and coach you through the process.