If everybody loved their job, they probably wouldn’t call it work. The lucky ones are those guys who have figured out how to get paid for doing what they love, while the rest of us simply get paid so we can afford to do what we love on the weekends.
But for some of us, the workplace can be miserable, so much so that it consumes your whole life. And in a tough job market, the idea of quitting without having another job lined up is just too risky.
If you find yourself dreading work in the morning, or unable to relax at the end of the week, here are a few tips to help you cope with a job you hate – whether you decide to tough it out or find something else.
These 12 tips will help you cope regardless of why you hate your job, whether it’s a terrible boss, nasty coworkers, or incompetent subordinates.
1- Rant, rave, and holler
Just don’t do it at the office. It used to be that the only people who heard us complain about work were our wives or girlfriends. However, this is the age of feminism, so she’s probably working too. Your friends are out, they have their own problems, and you can’t complain to your coworkers since they might be part of the problem.
Try posting your gripes on a site like Jobvent.com. You’ll feel better when you get it off your chest, and while you’re looking for a new place to work, you can see what people have to say about some of the companies you’re looking at. Plus, if there’s one universal rule, it’s that someone else always has it worse, so, the other guy’s horror stories might put things into perspective.
2- Remind yourself that this isn’t permanent
It’s easy to think that things won’t ever change. But that’s just not true. The average worker no longer has just one career. According to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, a group that tracks economic trends, the number of careers a worker can expect to have in a lifetime is five — and growing. Changing your job every few years has become common practice, so you shouldn’t think that a few years here and a few years there is a warning sign on your resume.
3- Make time for yourself
The truth is that this is good advice whether you hate your job or not. It’s easy to get into the painful grind of sleeping, working and eating. Choose an activity that you enjoy (anything from working out to reading the paper) and apply it your morning routine; that way you’ll be getting up for the activity, rather than the job.
4- Add something fun to the mix at work
Nobody works all of the time at the office. Try and give yourself a little break from your workday. Check out your favorite sports teams on ESPN.com. Or, listen to music (if you can). Step out for lunch and use that time to decompress from the rigors of the office. Play the occasional game on your computer. The trick is to find something that you like and have fun with it for a few minutes during your day.
5- Keep your sense of humor
It’s not just an old wives’ tale that laughter is the best medicine. Many scientists believe that humor can enhance your ability to cope with a number of situations by giving you perspective and helping you to see that the problem is manageable. Try and add humor to your daily routine whenever possible. Watch a sitcom over a drama or listen to a goofy morning radio show rather than the news. Keeping your sense of humor will allow you to be optimistic in the face of adversity, which will help you keep the ball rolling forward every day.
6- Focus on life outside of the office
If you spend eight hours a day at work, and eight hours sleeping, that leaves you eight hours all to yourself. When you let a crappy day at work take over your life, you’re letting the company steal your time without paying you for it. Take your time during the day and focus on what you want. Release tension by playing ball with the guys. Go see a movie with that cute woman in your building. Or, have a nice meal on a Tuesday night for no reason at all. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that you leave your work at work.
7- Be a better worker
You may not be happy at work, but you don’t have to waste your time. Since you’re likely applying for other jobs anyway, you might as well do all you can to enhance your skills. Take advantage of training programs, if your company offers them. Better still, try and convince your boss that you need to leave early once a week to attend a class at a local community college. That way you’ll get out of work and make yourself more attractive to future employers at the same time.
Don’t screw up and plan your next move…
8- Don’t jeopardize your job
On a note related to the previous tip, however awful things are, you don’t want to ruin all of the hard work you’ve done. Even if you’re eventually leaving your job, you don’t want to leave it on bad terms, so make all the effort you can to keep from destroying relationships at your job. Also, don’t slack off. How you perform at your current job can determine if you get your next one. Use that as motivation to keep your performance up. A positive attitude will go a long way in getting you out of a bad situation.
9- Organize an activity at work
If your problem at work is that it has become a grind, chances are that some of your coworkers probably feel the same way. Assuming that you actually like your coworkers, try suggesting an activity with them to liven things up. Make plans for the office to go bowling one night. Or, get a weekly softball game together (ask some of the companies you do business with if they’d like to play against your team and maximize your networking potential).
10- Set job-hunting goals for yourself
The best way to get through a hard time is to set goals in terms of finding new employment and meet them. By setting goals you identify a finish line, and by meeting the goals on a daily, weekly and monthly basis you give yourself something to feel good about. The goals can range from sending out resumes to expanding your networking opportunities.
11- Seek professional help
More than 19 million American suffer from depression. While workplace stress isn’t the sole cause of depression, it is a factor. If you find that you can’t cope with your job, it’s important to seek professional help before a more serious problem develops. Your goal here is to maintain your sanity above all else. To do that, you should check with your employer to see if they offer counseling through an EAP (Employee Assistance Program).
Many larger companies offer these programs to help workers cope with job-related problems on the theory that a happy worker is a productive worker. If your employer doesn’t offer an EAP, check with your insurance company to see if you’re covered for visits to a mental health professional.
12- Working 9 to 5
A bad job can seem like the end of the world. The key to surviving it is to have a vision beyond the troubles of today. You don’t need to figure out a way to love the job you hate, and you don’t need to fix all of the problems at work. All you need to do is cope long enough to find a new job.
– Authored by Michael Estrin