Things You Never Have to Say When You Don’t Have a Job You Hate (aka The Trough Effect In Motion)

You’ve only got one life to live. Make it a life worth living, not just merely an existence.

Alright folks. Many of us know all too well that we probably don’t love our jobs. In fact, nearly 80% of all working people despise their jobs. We may apathetically just bear it long enough to pay the bills, keep our parents and relatives satisfied that we’re doing something “normal” and have a regular job, and frankly, because we may not have a clue what else to do.

If this sounds like you, welcome to the masses. It is a sad, but true fact that most people dislike or even hate their jobs. But they continually put themselves through this tyranny because of many factors, some of which I just mentioned.

Why are we so willingly walking to our daytime prisons (your workplace, corporate office, etc.) and then to our caged pens (your office, cubicle, work area, etc.) just to put in 8 hours or more doing something we don’t particularly enjoy to make someone else (the company/organization) rich? You’re essentially giving your life energy (anything that takes actual time away from your life) away, trading it for a small amount of money, just barely enough to keep you coming back for more. I like to call this “The Trough Effect.”

The Trough Effect

The Trough Effect is essentially this:

You (the little farm animal) head over to your workplace (the farm) everyday of your waking adult life. You come back time and time again (every 2 weeks) in search of the little food you get from your trough (your paycheck) that will barely sustain you until your next visit (which comes all too soon).

You whine, complain, and gripe (thus in effect, making lots of farm animal noises) but can’t think of what else to do or how to escape.

It’s a miserable existence, one in which you wouldn’t particularly wish upon your offspring (or anyone else), but sometimes get so brainwashed to thinking this is the way life ought to be that you can’t bear to see anyone else deviate from this norm. And when you do see others never going back to the workplace (the farm) in order to do what they love (be it traveling the world, vagabonding, pursuing art, writing, opening up one’s own business, etc.), you sneer and spew venomous curses upon them saying things like:

“You think that’s the way you’re going to survive?”

“You have got to be kidding me!”

“You’ll fail and come back to the workplace by next week – guaranteed!”

“How can you be so selfish?”

“What about your family? Don’t they have a say in how you ought to live your life?”

“You’re going to regret this.”

The heart of these negative responses to someone else’s deviation from the norm is due to 2 factors: jealousy and realization.

Jealousy comes in many forms but for this particular case, it is because you’re kicking yourself and wishing that you could do the same thing too and escape from your prison. Realize this: you can if you let yourself choose to. It will be hard and not one without multiple barriers (some from our most beloved people), but it can be done.

Realization is due to you waking up from your comatose state upon seeing someone else do exactly what you’ve been consciously and unconsciously dreaming about: freedom. The light has been lit and now you don’t know how to turn it off (but secretly don’t want to at the same time). So what do you do meanwhile? You curse and shout and talk down upon those who are doing what you wish you could do.

Does The Trough Effect sound all too familiar? If so, are you doing anything about it? Do you even want to do anything about it?

Here are 4 phrases you’ll hear uttered from your mouth and others whilst in a job you (and they) hate:

Phrase 1: “Is it Friday yet?”

Friday is the golden child of the traditional work week. It’s the jelly that goes with your peanut butter. It’s the nougat inside the chocolate. It’s the runner’s high when you’ve past the point of pain and exhaustion. It’s the tequila inside a margarita. It’s the best part.

Everyone’s moods are a lot lighter, your boss seems to be nicer to you on that day than any other day, your office allows you to wear jeans or have a “casual Friday” attire, and the overall feeling is just great. Because Friday means the weekend’s here! And the weekend means no work (usually)! Yay!

But until it’s Friday … you have to bear through all the other days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, all the while asking others in a hypothetical question, “Is it Friday yet?”

When you get the answer you already know, “I wish …” or “Not yet unfortunately …,” you kick yourself and curse under your breath, “Damn! Why can’t it come any sooner?”

Essentially, you are wishing for your life to fast forward until it’s Friday afternoon and you get to leave the office just so you can wish your life to slow down for the weekend to last indefinitely.

If you work for yourself, your weekend can be indefinite. You can set your own hours, your own rules, your own life. No one, not society, not your company, not your parents, not your well-meaning friends and family, can tell you how long you’re supposed to enjoy your weekend when you’ve set it up so that you can finally enjoy life, every day of the week.

Phrase 2: “I hate Mondays.”

First off, hate is a very strong word. If you didn’t think that, you probably throw that word around like there’s no tomorrow.

“I hate long lines.”

“I hate screaming kids.”

“I hate the government.”

“I hate shopping.”

“I hate my wife.” -__- (That’s not a good sign.)

When you don’t have a job you hate, you most likely would not say you hate Mondays. And poor Monday, it gets such a bad rap just because it’s the start of a traditional work week. If the traditional work week started on a Wednesday, we’d all be saying we hate Wednesdays.

Fact of the matter is, the day itself is arbitrary. It could be a Sunday, Tuesday, or Friday. When you dislike going to a job and when the beginning of the work week rolls around after an all-too-short weekend, you’d be saying things like “I hate Mondays” and “I hate people,” etc.

When you love the job you have, be it working for someone else or working for yourself, why would you hate a particular day of the week? There’s no point and we should be loving the days we have on this earth, for it is all too short and finite. You can start by loving your waking days in this world by first doing what you love and stop doing what you hate. Read my free ebook Questions to Ask Yourself for some questions on what it means to live a simple, full life.

Phrase 3: “Let’s see … I have 9 more vacation days left, I have to plan and use this wisely for the remainder of the year …”

Can you say deferred life plan?

When we spend a good portion of our daydreaming hours at work to thinking about where to go on vacation next, when, and for how long, you know you probably need one right now.

I see my coworkers anxiously and giddily planning their vacation time in such a detailed and exact fashion that it brings to light how humans were meant to be … that we enjoy vacations, we need rest and relaxation, we have to take time off to recover and refresh ourselves. We weren’t meant to work 50 weeks a year, just to get 2 weeks paid time off. Like would say, “It’s a crime, and you know it.”

When you can set up a life where you don’t have to plan out every detail of your vacation days like some fancy acrobat on a tightrope, you can start to enjoy life as it were meant to be.

Phrase 4: “Oh my God, can pay day come any sooner??”

No, it’s going to come when it wants to come. Sometimes, the company (the farmer) will only give you enough (your paycheck) every 2 weeks or once a month. Now it’s up to you to make that last the rest of the time until your next pay day. See The Trough Effect above for more.

So What? What Am I Supposed to Do Now?

You have to first answer this question: Is what I’m doing now making me happy?

If the answer is yes, awesome! Keep doing what you’re doing then.

If the answer is no, you have to then make 1 of 2 decisions:

  1. Start taking concrete actions to get yourself to where you need to be.
  2. Stay where you’re at and look back 40 years from now wishing you had only done XYZ.

If you’re anywhere close to intelligent, you’ll realize that option 2 is not a very wise option. I highly recommend against it.

You’ve only got one life to live. Make it a life worth living, not just merely an existence. I know you can do it!

If this post has inspired you, please feel free to share with others! You can stay updated by subscribing to the or follow me on  and . Thanks and see you next time! :)

  • David K

    can i just say i love you?nnbc i think i may…nnnyour posts are inspiring. and im one of the most inspired people of my circle in life. i need more folks like you to stir me up and get me going. i never feel like im doing enough, but im making plans to put into motion.nnlife is good. but its about to get better. thank you :)n

  • Mark

    “The Trough Effect” A prefect analogy. Its simplicity of comparing pigs eating from a trough to humans dissatisfied with their jobs collecting a paycheck. Lot of thought provoking and inspiring material here. One of my fav quotes from this post, “Essentially, you are wishing for your life to fast forward until itu2019s Friday”. That’s so scary thinking of living a life waiting for 4 days of it to fast forward. YIKES!!! And yes, Monday does get unfairly punished!!! Live, don’t just exist.

  • Nina | Castles in the Air

    That is SO good to hear, David! Do what you love and don’t let anyone get you down. Once you’ve made up your mind that you can and will do anything you put your entire self into, anything is possible. People may try to get in your way but that just leads to The Trough Effect in full motion. Ignore the masses, follow your heart. :)

  • Nina | Castles in the Air

    Absolutely! It makes me sad to see and hear from others how they wish their lives to fast forward until the weekend arrives. The week hasn’t even begun and they want it over with. nnLife is too beautiful, precious, and short to wish it all away. Our lives were meant to be spectacular. Why are we so content with it cruising by us? Aren’t we, in fact, the driver of our own lives? Then why not get out of the passenger seat and start steering towards that which makes us infinitely happier? A life where we are calling the shots and not anyone else.

  • Joel Runyon | [BIT]

    I love love love this analogy & knowing the backstory & seeing your personality come out while communicating it, makes it *that* much better :)

  • The Living Space

    I admit, I am guilty of saying some of the above. You always say it like it is: the truth. :-) Thanks Nina!

  • Nina | Castles in the Air

    :) And thank you for your continued support, Kiran!!

  • Nina | Castles in the Air

    :D Sound effects included! Lol. Thanks, Joel!

  • Matt

    This is a really awesome and scary post because it so accurately describes my thinking over the past several years. After constantly talkign with co-workers about what we would do if we won the lottory I realized that I needed to do something to shake my world up and allow me to see with new eyes. So I decided to embark on a 1 year sabbatical with my family and move overseas and see what happens. Our adventure begins June of 2011. I have no idea what will happen or where we will end up after the year but I’m excited about taking this adventure. I for sure don’t want to wake up 20 years from now and be depressed about all the “what-if’s”. Like you said we only get one shot at this life so make it worthy.

  • Nina | Castles in the Air

    WOW, that is so awesome, Matt!!! It’s going to be a blast no matter what happens. I am so excited for you and your family!! Way to live your life radically and with gusto!

  • Paige of Redefining Wealth

    I really enjoyed this post! When I was working in a 9-5 office setting, I remember people just wishing each day away until finally the long awaited Friday arrived. I always thought it was rather sad but I understood because most of our jobs are not that thrilling to say the least.nnI’ve been unemployed for a little over a year now and the upside is I have this incredible opportunity to re-invent myself. The job market is not looking very promising and because of this I’m starting to get creative. I’m starting to ask myself what I can do for a living that will make me money and enhance my life? I’m still at the beginning of my journey but I feel encouraged and inspired.

  • Nina | Castles in the Air

    Paige, isn’t it wonderful that right at the very time people think you must be having a difficult time “adjusting” and “finding yourself” amidst all the job turmoil, that you do indeed adjust quite well and have found yourself a lot sooner than if you were in the same position you thought yourself to be in when you still had a job?nnIt’s funny — life, that is. It works in peculiar ways. Ways in which we still do not understand, and may never. But when we keep ourselves open and invite opportunities in — even though we may not see them anywhere near us — that opportunities do indeed arrive just as it was meant to. I truly find the ways of this world inspirational, albeit ambiguous if not clearly unpredictable. But inspirational nevertheless. nnYour future is bright. I can sense the positivity within you! Nothing but good things can come out of this time in your life, Paige. Supporting you all the way!

  • davidd

    When I see the globe-trekking “vagabonds” I sneer, all right, and yeah, I’m RAGINGLY jealous. But I don’t sneer at them. I sneer at myself. The “you have got to be kidding me” comments are internalized and self-directed. Here I am, supposedly well-educated and reasonably intelligent, but I’m not the one traveling, having adventures, seeing the world. Nope, I’m stuck at home, stuck in debt, stuck in a “trough” job, and envious as heck of the people who have “real lives.” As you can see, I have a ways to go to climb out of the negativity rut I’ve carved for myself, but I’m working on it. I’m happy to have stumbled across your blog at the time you’re planning big changes for yourself. It will be interesting, and I hope inspiring, to follow your progress… and perhaps, share successes as the journey unfolds.nnFor what it’s worth, I had the opportunity to visit the Manuel Antonio area of Costa Rica last year. I suspect you’ll have a marvelous time! (And considering what my trip cost, the price of the retreat is a bargain!)nn

  • Nina | Castles in the Air

    You stumbling across this blog at the very moment you’re thinking to yourself how you could be the one doing all this, is not a coincidence. You can do it, David, one step at a time. Don’t be too hard on yourself either as you’re slowly making positive changes in your life, to get to where you need to be in order to be happy.nnI cannot wait for Costa Rica! It’s going to be a blast!

  • matthewdlyons

    What a great post. It really hits on where I find myself currently. I am inspired by my wife. Just two years out of college with an accounting degree, and just passing the CPA exam, one she took a long look at what she was doing and where it might lead. The next day she walked into the office and quite. She told me that she didn’t want to hit 40 and hate what she did for a living. She made her way to Europe and modeled. She returned to the States and pursued a newfound passion for food. Today, she is a pretty well known chef and an all-around great person. nnI yearn to have the courage. There are a number of things “I’d rather be doing” than my 9-5. It’s pretty clear that when you like the people at the office more than the work itself, the work is not that rewarding. I am currently working on pursuing my dream of being a full-time photographer and writer. I don’t want to fall in the trap of perennial planning, though; so I really appreciate pieces like this, your site and others like it that serve to inspire and — as needed — provide a kick in the butt.

  • Steve Thomas – fungeezer

    I agree that life is not meant to be lived doing something you hate. What I will through into the mix is that often we look at what we are doing through shit colored glasses. nnWhen I lived in Hawaii, I had some neighbors who were in the Marine Corps. They called Hawaii, “the rock” and they hated it. In truth, what they hated, was being in the military and so they hated everything to do with it, including where they were.nnI worked in industry and started at the lowest job in the place. I worked my way up to plant superintendent. At the time, I hated everything about it. Now, I realize that the challenge, the growth was great!nnAll that is to say, you shouldn’t do something you hate, but make sure you really hate it and not some part of it. Pissing and whining can be done on a factory floor or a tropical beach. Love life and love the challenge!

  • Colin Wright

    Oh man, I remember thinking about vacation days. It’s one of those stupid things people shouldn’t have to worry about…like going to the bank on your lunch break (because it’ll be closed when you get off work) or having to ask permission to do your job well.nnThe posts just keep on getting better and better, Nina. Keep ‘em coming!

  • Financial Samurai

    I hope you find your job of your dreams!

  • Anonymous

    Hey Nina,nnI’ve been sort of lingering in the background of your blog and paying attention to what you’re up to through a couple of my other friends. With this post you’ve converted me into a loyal reader :) I’m one of those few fortunate people who happens to LOVE my job and its’ partially because I get to work with people like Colin Wright. As somebody who finished an MBA, I really wish people in business school would start embracing things like this. They’re so stuck in their routine and caught up in the ego driven pursuit of a life that looks good on appear. As I’ve evolved with the things I’m working on over the last year I have had such a mindset shift and it basically it’s taking daily action towards freeing myself from the chains of anybody. I think it’s awesome that you are doing this.nnAsh is going to to probably yell at me for telling you this, but as a hardcore surfer, I would HIGHLY recommend you take a surf lesson. Riding a wave even just once will leave an imprint so permanent on your memory that you’ll be able to return to this place of sheer bliss over and over again. Not only that, the waves are WORLD CLASS in Costa Rica. nn

  • Nina | Castles in the Air

    Thanks, Colin! nnI really despise the way most corporations work, it’s set up so the employees have to shift, adjust, and change their life around the work’s schedule. People do their banking during lunch, dashing out the door so they can come back in time for their 1:00 meeting, having only grabbed McDonald’s drive-thru as they cruise through the bank, the gas station, the post office, and then a stop off at Wal-Mart for a toilet plunger on sale. nnI see it all around me, for the past several years ever since I’ve started working in corporations. It just breaks my heart. This is not how we were meant to be.

  • Nina | Castles in the Air

    Wow, so encouraging to hear that your wife did exactly what most fear: quit something “comfortable” in order to pursue what made her happy despite the ambiguous and foggy path. And it turned out great, like you said!

  • Rick

    Awesome post!

  • Kristy

    I love this post, Nina! And I can honestly say that I’ve said all 4 things! Isn’t it strange that we invest so much time, energy, and money into an education so that we will not end up in this very situation, only to find that all along we were hopelessly on this track? And the way it takes away from family life??? Don’t even get me started! I think you are very brave to take the reigns and move out of this trap. Best of luck! I look forward to hearing about your journey :)

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