How to Cope When Work Blows
“Fresh ideas from the Blacklight”
SBC’s Weekly Newsletter for Professionals
In an ideal universe, we’d all have awesome, fulfilling careers with a ridiculous salary and benefits package. Alas, on this planet, not every job nourishes the soul. Whether you’re a recent college grad or several years into your career, at some point, you may find yourself in a position that kind of…sucks. Often, that will signal it’s time to hatch your departure plan. But that’s not always possible, especially in the era of COVID-19. Nor is it the only solution. Read on for our tips to help you cope with your less-than-stellar job sitch.
#1 Get to the bottom of why you’re unhappy
Square One is always the best place to start to create your happiness at work. If you haven’t already, evaluate specifics to understand what’s making you miserable. Have you hit a ceiling? Are you bored? Feel unappreciated or underpaid? Are you exhausted by long hours? Is it a personality clash with the boss or your coworkers?
Only when you identify the source of your frustrations can you create an action plan to change things for the better.
#2 Focus on what you do like about the job
Take comfort in knowing that few people love every single aspect of their work. Granted, you may dislike several things. But you’ll find the days more bearable if you focus on the positive. Maybe that’s your excellent healthcare plan, challenging projects, or perks like 401(k) employer matching.
If you have a flexible schedule, a short commute, or can work from home, that’s also worth celebrating. Dwelling on the negative only drags you down, and those toxic feelings can infect everyone around you.
#3 Continue developing skills
Even if you know this job is temporary, don’t spend X remaining time as though you’re awaiting release from a jail sentence. Think about how you can leverage your current experience for future opportunities.
For example, if you need to strengthen your public speaking skills, see if there’s an opportunity to speak at a company event or conference. Take advantage if your employer offers any professional development or continuing education programs.
Whether you have a clear exit plan or want to build up your resume, continue to develop skills that will make you more marketable later.
#4 Cultivate outside passions
Modern society has all but brainwashed us into believing that we must feel passionate about our work. But the truth is, some of the things you love doing—parasailing, playing video games, shooting hoops—may not pay the bills.
That’s when it’s time to look outside of work for something to inspire you. In the end, it’s okay to make peace with the realization that you may never feel Steve Jobs-level passionate about your career. We aren’t identified solely by what we do professionally. A sense of fulfillment can come from many sources.
#5 Remind yourself of the bigger picture
When you find yourself feeling miserable on the job, one of the best tips to help you cope is to remind yourself why you go to work in the first place. Your earnings might be helping you save up for a down payment on your first home or to pay off student loan debt. Perhaps your salary makes it possible to maintain a struggling family member.
In short, the money you earn makes your hopes and dreams a reality. Make that your focus right now, instead of your unhappiness.
#6 Practice gratitude
As Queen Oprah Winfrey says, “If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” Try to feel grateful that you have a job and bring home a paycheck. Not everyone is so lucky right now.
Realize that your “loathsome” post probably has one or more perks than someone else envies. When you practice gratitude, you take stock of all that is good in your world instead of creating a laundry list of everything you hate or lack.
In the end, only you know when it’s time to move on to greener pastures. But meanwhile, these tips to help you cope can ensure that you survive—nay, thrive in—the job you currently have.
Did you enjoy this post about how to cope with job disatisfaction? It originally appeared on the Blacklight, our weekly newsletter for professionals. At the Blacklight, we aim to illuminate with every dispatch that lands in your inbox. If you’re thirsty for guidance to help you slay it at work or as a student and move your goalposts closer, sign up today!