Haven’t we all had a job we hate? I‘ve certainly been there. It started with a deep denial, then anger at being duped into accepting the job, then a dejected loss of purpose, and finally a survival plan to make my days more bearable. Whether you sit at a cubicle, drive a truck, lead board meetings, or wait tables, every job has its own unique set of challenges. And while everyone has their own circumstances for disliking a job, there are things everyone can do to make it easier on themselves. Since quitting on the spot isn’t always an option, here are some to help you through the sticky spots until you’re out the door.
Schedule something fun after work. If it feels impossible to drag yourself out of bed to get to work, it really helps to have something to look forward to. Schedule a Taco Tuesday outing with friends, go see a movie or meet someone for a walk. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or time-demanding. The littlest things can improve your perspective when planning and reflecting on your day.
Exercise. Exercise is such a mood booster, especially if you have a high level of stress. I practice yoga to recenter myself, but do whatever appeals to you – hit a punching bag, do some high intensity interval training, or lift weights. It will get you out of your own head and provide an attitude adjustment after a rough day at work. And as a bonus, you will get fit.
Make a friend. This may depend on the nature of your job, but if you work in a setting where this is possible, make an effort to get to know someone. This can start with something as simple as picking up an extra latte for them at Starbucks or exchanging recommendations for Netflix shows. Don’t put pressure on yourself to make them your new best friend – it’s simply an exercise in opening yourself up to others. Once you make the first move, you may be surprised at the positive response it triggers. I had this experience myself, and it made my job a much less lonely place.
Make the most of your break time. Again, this will depend on your job, but I used my lunch hour to go to a local park and read. Do whatever will take you to your happy place. Make yourself a delicious lunch. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Check out a local cafe. Or if you don’t have the ability to leave, listen to a podcast or watch a funny video. Get yourself back to neutral so you’re in a good headspace for the remainder of your day.
Stay curious. This one is tough to do, but it may have the biggest impact. Every time something makes you angry, frustrated or defeated at work, think about why that is. It may seem obvious and unnecessary, but it’s so important to determine the root of what is causing discomfort in your job, so you can avoid it in the future. Maybe keep a journal and jot down the noteworthy things that resulted in emotional intensity of some kind. For example, if you are most low on the days you have no interaction with people, that might indicate that you need a job that is more social in nature. Or if there is a particular person that immediately stresses you out, think about why that is. This will give you the opportunity to examine things you may normally disregard. Then revisit the journal after you’ve left the job. It may be more eye-opening once you’ve had some separation time.
Most of us spend a significant amount of our time at work. Therefore, it should be worthwhile, not a means to an end, something we are wishing away or counting down. Although it’s challenging to endure a job you hate, these times in life will help shape the choices you make for what comes next. Use it as an opportunity to test your mental toughness, get to know yourself better, and most importantly, to select a job that is more aligned with your values, interests, personality and future goals.