Your job sucks and for whatever reason you can't leave. At the same time, if you don't leave you're pretty sure you're going to lose your mind. What can you do about it? Here are our top 10 strategies.
10. Get Some Perspective
Today is one day out of your entire life. Unless you're going to die soon, it's probably not going to be that big of a deal. If it's one of your days off, you may find yourself doing nothing because you want to figure out the best way to spend such limited time. If it's one of your work days, there will be other days where other things happen. Whatever the moment is, it's a blip in your life. Chances are you won't remember it in a week. That's not to say you shouldn't pay attention to what you truly care about, but you shouldn't dwell on it either. You have food, a place to live, and something to do most days. You probably have fun once in a while. Maybe you even have people who care about you. Focus on the good stuff, and remember the rest is going to be a distant memory very quickly. Spending your time moaning to yourself (and others) about how awful your job is won't solve the problem. Just don't do it, and focus on the positive.
9. Bring Yourself to Work
Presumably you're already doing this in the physical sense, but if you have a creative side or other interests it can make your job more fun if you find ways to integrate them. One of my primary duties at a job a long time ago involved addressing catalogs for an advertising school. I made this more fun by illustrating the envelopes based on the person's name. Eventually some people called because they liked it and I was given some design work. At another job we had to learn a new product the company acquired that made online slideshows by actually using it to make one. I wrote a song about a womanizing spatula named Denny who finally met the woman (or, well, "female" inanimate object) of his dreams, took some photos of household objects, and put together a stop motion music video. Also, the entire thing was in Google-translated Spanish. Whenever my job got me down, either because it was boring or I just needed something to break the monotony, I'd try to bring something I enjoyed to the work. Obviously this takes more time, but all the little strange things I did at those jobs are my favorite memories. While not every job will let you bring your (potentially strange) personality to the table, I highly recommend doing it if you can find a way. Nothing brightened up the day more.
8. Watch Out for False Starts
Bad days generally occur when a number of little frustrations happen in succession. On their own they might not be a big deal and you'd go on forgetting about them, but together they make you think the universe is plotting against you. These are false starts, and they're often the root of bad days. When things appear to be going worse than usual, take a step back and look at what happened. You are not so important that an entire day has been set aside specifically for your personal misery. Dissect each moment, realize your being ridiculous, and make fun of yourself when you can. If you look at a situation realistically, you can sometimes stop a potential bad day before it starts.
7. Be Healthy
A balanced mind and body makes a big difference when it comes to everything that you do—even the things you don't like. The idea isn't to just become a person who hates their job with fancy muscles, but to allow your physical and mental needs to take precedence over pretty much everything else. For starters, decide when you have to go to bed each night (it can be a range) and follow it. Find exercise you can and will do 3-4 times per week and do it. Don't worry about how minimal it is. Start making some cheap and healthy food. Set aside some time each day to just relax and do nothing. Schedule it all if you need to, but make sure you don't let your job get int the way of your well-being. If you already don't like it, neglecting your health is going to make it much, much worse.
6. Block Out Negative Conversation
Complaining about your job can be fun because it seems cathartic, but venting your frustration will only make your anger worse. If that negativity spreads to your coworkers, you can exacerbate the problem by creating a hive mentality, or at least making everyone more miserable as a result. While you don't want to bottle up your feelings until you go postal one day, you don't have to approach everything negatively. Instead of complaining, consider solutions. Try to find ways to improve things. If you can't change the way things work in the office, consider ways to help you cope with those problems. Being more proactive and less negative may not fix everything, but it can improve your situation.
5. Take a Pay Cut
Seriously. Take a pay cut and get some extra job flexibility in return. Apparently many of you wouldn't mind that option at all, and your company probably would love to pay you less. If you want to cut back on your hours, work from home on occasion, or get some other benefit that's important to you, ask for a pay cut in exchange. You might just get it, and that benefit may make you a lot happier than money.
4. Get Along With Your Co-Workersyou might actually live longer. Even if you don't think you'll get along with certain people in the office, give it a shot. If it doesn't work out, you can always just go back to being a loner.
3. Find Balance
Finding balance is easier said than done, but small, strategic changes can make a big difference. Sometimes it's not so much that the work you do is soul suckingly awful, but that it's consuming your life. Rather than find a new job and end up in the same situation all over again, stick with the one you've got and and pay attention to the small things. Take note of the little moments that make you happy and those that drive you up the wall. Try to remove the details you hate and replace it with more of the details you like. Big, grand decisions can be pleasing for a short amount of time, but if you never fix the little problems and neglect to embrace the little moments of happiness, history will be doomed to repeat itself.
2. Learn to Deal With Your Crazy Boss
If work sucks, chances are your boss has something to do with it. But you can learn to cope. One way to deal with your boss' insanity is to create some distance. For example, see if you can have your assignments filtered though someone else. You may also want to keep a crazy log and get as much as you can in writing so should things ever get so bad that you need to go to human resources you will be prepared. Just be sure not to engage your boss in a crazy contest, because they're probably better at it than you are. For more details, read this.
1. Just Quit
If you're truly at the end of your rope and there's no way you'll survive much longer, you need to create a quitting plan. Yes, you think you have to stay to pay your rent, and yes, you think you'll never find another job in this market. Save up enough money to make it at least one month and then you need to quit. You can take a few days to relax and recoup but then you have the rest of that month to find another place to work. There's no better motivator than potential homelessness. Plus, you'll have all those work hours to dedicate to your search. At eight hours a day, that comes out to about 180 hours for the month (give or take a few). That's a lot of time. If you're diligent and use that time wisely, you should be able to find something else.
Got any other strategies for surviving a crappy job? Share 'em in the comments!
Title photo by Angela Waye (Shutterstock)You can follow Adam Dachis, the author of this post, on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. Twitter's the best way to contact him, too.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Top 10 Ways to Survive Your Crappy Job