Why don’t I like my work? Am I lazy?

In every job I’ve had, after a brief initial buzz (maybe two weeks) I feel despondently bored. This will happen when the role is well suited to my ENFJ personality, if I’m good at the job or even when I’ve initially felt really passionate about the role (like working for a children’s charity). And so I leave with this sense of incompleteness. I’m 33 and I’m torn between pushing through and finding that one amazing something or accepting that, as my father says, I’m just scared of hard work.

12 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    You are not scared if hard work. No one is. Its just a line your dad says to people to hurt them.

    You sound depressed to me. For one thing, it’s not right that your dad’s criticism holds so much sway over you at your age — you are too old for that. Also, it seems not right that you have jobs that are ostensibly fine for you and then you don’t like them. It sounds like the problem is not the job.

    I think if you dealt with your depression then the jobs would feel fine to you. Have you been to therapy before? You should try it. It will create some stability in both your work life and your self-image.


  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your response, what a brilliant surprise. I’m not sure why it’s a surprise because you say that you respond to people all the time; thank you for showing me that people often do what they say.

    I actually started therapy about five months ago. I started due to a hot combo of poor self image, social anxiety and marital problems but for some reason I managed to siphon off work and my career as something that shouldn’t/couldn’t be affected by the negative feelings I was having.

    I see now that cannot be the case, so hopefully I’m on the right road.

    Thanks again.

  3. Avodah
    Avodah says:

    Fellow ENFJ here!! Two things:

    1.) We are *sensitive*. We love our work, and take usually personally when things go poorly (or really well).

    2.) Don’t take career advice from parents (I may have read that on this blog?). Our parents usually want us to be honest (almost to a fault), humble, helpful and willing to work from the ground up. In the workplace you need to be competent, assertive and selective in the projects you take.

    I reccommend reading “Do What You Are” and “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office (its better than the title suggests).

    As for therapy, I have been doing EFT for a few years, and it has helped me overcome stressful/unpleasant/hurtful situations that I tend to hold onto. I’d be curious to hear Ms. Trunk’s thoughts on EFT.

  4. Sunflower2012
    Sunflower2012 says:

    Hi everyone,

    I have the same problem. I start a new job, I learn the job, I am bored with the job. Unfortunately, this happens within MONTHS and not within years. I make good money, have good co-workers, a nice 10-minute commute (walking), good benefits, everything you could ask for. But the work load is too low, I don’t get more work even if I ask for it. I started taking a class after work so I can keep busy with doing the homework for it during work. I write on my book during work. I write for my blog during work. But all I want is a high-power job, that’s well-respected, keeping me really busy and presenting me with challenges regularly. I do want job security, though. I am stuck somehow I feel. Now I am 30 and I want to kick some a$$ before I have kids. But I don’t want to apply to the next job and then hit the same boredom after some months of learning and adapting again.

    What should I do?

  5. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    I think if you are 30 and you have not found a job that you like, then there is a distinct possibility that the high-paying jobs are not jobs that would be fulfilling to you. Boredom usually comes from someone who is doing the wrong thing for them. People talk all the time about how it’s okay for women to be bored taking care of kids. But it’s also okay for women to be bored in the workplace.

    It’s unfortunate that when we are growing up, everyone tells us about how smart we are and how we can do anything, but there is no discussion of what if the workplace doesn’t cater to who you are??? I mean, the workplace caters to a very narrow group of people who can have high output in a business setting.

    There are people who are just good at being at home taking care of a family. Look at your Myers Briggs score. I bet you score in that range. I think you need to embrace who you are – whoever you are. And you don’t sound open to a wide range – – only a very small group of people can be high-earning.

    Also, just mentioning, you are thirty. And if you have a personality type that will enjoy having kids and taking care of them, it’s time to do that, not worry about your career. It’s very hard to build a career and have young kids at the same time. You probably need to pick one at this stage of your life.


  6. Sunflower2012
    Sunflower2012 says:

    Thanks for your advice, Penelope. I did the Meyer Briggs a couple of months ago and I am an ESTJ type, with a strong peak in judging. Is that a nurturing type?

  7. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Here’s a link to a description of ESTJ traits.


    The first thing about ESTJs is that they are most fulfilled in the role of enforcers. People who like order and like to maintain order. These people are not highly paid in our culture. (Teachers, policemen, administrators). So the types of jobs that are highly paid – sales, business development, CEOs — have very little structure around them, and the highest paid of that group are rule breakers, and those jobs would drive you crazy.

    The other thing is that ESTJs are big on commitment and social order. Which means an ESTJ feels very good making sure things are done right in a family setting.

    So, the answer is that you would, indeed be happy being at home and making a family run smoothly and orderly. Also, you are not likely to ever earn that big paycheck that you are holding out for in the workplace. So you should stop putting your energy toward that. It’s draining and demoralizing to you.


  8. Avodah
    Avodah says:

    “I think if you are 30 and you have not found a job that you like, then there is a distinct possibility that the high-paying jobs are not jobs that would be fulfilling to you. ” <– That is a really interesting comment.

    I recently left academia for the higher-paying field of finance. Currently, I am an EA making about 3x what most grad students make (and more than some professors). I ended up learning that I actually do value the money and the freedom that comes with it.

    I'm working towards a career in investor relations or client services in this industry which will give me the free time time and the financial freedom I need.

    Long story short- it was difficult, yet liberating to admit to myself that I like money and the freedom and security that goes along with it.

  9. J.E.
    J.E. says:

    Just to throw this out there, but what if you’re one of those types who would be good staying home, but you’re single or you’re partnered up/married but don’t want children? It seems there’s more acceptance out there for a person to stay home if they are a parent, but not if they don’t have children. What about the stay at home spouse? If one person makes enough money to cover expenses and the other is unhappy/unsuited for the job they have it seems that there isn’t much support for the person to quit to find out what they really like. They’re looked at as lazy, or mooching off the spouse with the full time job even it it’s what they discussed and agreed on. As for the single person what if they would like to move around to try different things, but are bound by finances, even if they aren’t living above their means? Again just tossing those questions out there out of curiosity.

  10. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Responding to JE: If you know you want to stay home and take care of a family, then your focus should be finding a mate. If you do not want to stay home and take care of a family, then you should focus on continuing to try stuff out to figure out what you want to do outside the home.

    It doesn’t take a lot of money to test out a lot of different jobs, because you earn money in each job you try. And it doesn’t take a lot of money to have a job that you don’t particularly like but focus on finding a mate.


  11. Paulina
    Paulina says:

    “Long story short- it was difficult, yet liberating to admit to myself that I like money and the freedom and security that goes along with it.”

    This is how I feel right now. I mean, I still haven’t completely accepted, but I have to. I studied a lot to become a ‘save the world’ person. Go to humanities and save people. However, after working for free for non profits that only hires one people in 100 I realized that need security and stability. That I rather have a job that doesn’t really add anything to society, but have good friends and be able to travel and live reasonably. I keep beating myself about it, but I have to accept otherwise I’ll always live stressed out about ethg.

  12. Sunflower2012
    Sunflower2012 says:

    I am trying to use my financially save, but boring job to try new things on the side. Kids are not in the picture, maybe in 2 years or so. I am taking Accounting classes, write on my own book, will be freelancing for a website project and will take some Graphic Design classes soon. Right now I work as an Advisor at a graduate school and I am bored out of my mind. Being bored all the time is so depressing, but I guess if I haven’t figured out my dream job by now, as Penelope states, work might not be my place after all. I will continue to try new things and see where it takes me.

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