Surviving in a Job You Hate

Posted by The Editors on April 12, 2012
Surviving in a Job You Hate

It’s easy for us recent grads to turn down a job offer or quit if we think it’s not the right opportunity. Some of us have safety nets to fall back on but unfortunately many people don’t, and can’t afford to make these decisions lightly. With mortgages, student loans, and families to support, people would much rather be employed than unemployed.

On a flight to Florida for vacation, I sat next to a military veteran who was flying back to his family. For most of the flight he told me about his consulting job that puts him on the road at least two weeks out of every month and traveling to all different states. Did he enjoy it? Sure, it has perks like racking up those frequent flier miles, but the time he spends away from his family is tough and the hours he spends working and traveling takes a toll.

So why does he do it? Because he needs to pay the bills and take care of his family. And because I can’t imagine being miserable in my job everyday, especially when it involves flying in turbulent weather, I thought about how to make the best of a bad situation with the help of my new friend in the seat next to me.

No matter why it is you’re stuck in a job you dislike, here are a few tips on how to make it work until you can find something better suited for you.

Ask yourself what you hate about this job. What my vet friend dislikes most about his job is the amount of travel involved. It takes away from the time he has with his family. Once you can put a list together of what your dislikes are, you have crucial information that will help you land a better job that will make you happier the next time around. The same goes for listing what you do like about the job.

Talk to your supervisor. During college, I was a shy worker who was always hesitant to ask questions or voice my opinion. And then one day, I’d finally gotten the courage to ask for a larger spending budget for a big event I was putting together. The first thing my boss said to me was, “Ask and you shall receive. Don’t ask and you’ll never know.” Ah...such powerful words—and ones that have stuck with me since. Point is, if you have a problem or you’re unhappy with something, talk to your boss if you can’t work it out yourself. It might be an easy fix.

Don’t be a downer. We’ve talked about why it’s important to be positive at work, here. If you’re in an office setting and constantly mouthing off about how your boss is a jerk and the atmosphere is toxic, your co-workers are either going to stop talking to you or you’ll end up bringing them down too! Don’t make it harder for others to do their jobs. Doing so is only going to continue to make your job harder, especially when you have no colleagues who want to chat with you during the day.

Talk to someone or try therapy. Yes, I know some people are against it. Why pay to talk to a professional when you can go to the local pub and talk to a bartender who will supply you with beer and complimentary popcorn. No, but seriously, stop and think whether it’s the job that’s causing all your worries or if it’s some deeper issue that needs to be addressed. Maybe it’s your career entirely and you need a change. Having someone outside of your office and family to talk to can give you great perspective.

Spend more time on hobbies. How does the saying go? Work to live, don’t live to work? Carve out some time for something you enjoy. My friend on the plane told me he enjoys writing. Although he never studied creative writing in school, it gives him a sense of peace being able to write about his experiences in the military. So during his flights, he takes out his laptop and spends time writing short stories. Figure out what you enjoy and what you can do that will take your mind off the job.

Quit. I know this goes against what I said in the beginning of this post but if your job really is killing you, and I mean physically giving you ulcers, it’s time to leave. Sometimes surviving does mean throwing in the towel.

About the Author