You’re feeling bored, uninspired, unappreciated, and can’t wait to get the heck out of there. You dread work and can’t stand your boss. Maybe you’ve even been researching new careers in your spare time or focusing on a side gig that’s starting to show promise. But what do you do in the meantime? How do you survive each day when you hate your job? It’s possible. You just need to have the right mindset and strategies to turn an unpleasant experience into an opportunity to position yourself for future success. Here are my top tips to cope until you can find a career that truly lights you up inside.
Identify a goal
The first and most important thing is to have a goal in mind. Whether it’s switching to another job or being your own boss, identify your destination upfront. Then the next step is working towards that goal. It doesn’t matter what the timeline is. Whether you are planning to make a career change in six months or two years, the point is that you have a target date, and you’re planning to execute on it sometime in the future. Next, develop an escape plan and timeline. Finally, the last step is to focus on that goal. Every day, you should be thinking about how you’re going to get closer to it. If you focus on your ultimate destination rather than the temporary situation that you’re in, you will feel better and the days won’t seem so long and endless.
Develop your skills
When you hate your job, the next strategy is to focus on developing the skills that will make you more valuable in your next position. For example, if you’re thinking of being your own boss, this is an excellent time to learn about things that you might need to initially do yourself as a solopreneur (the activities that you may have other people doing for you like website development or email marketing). Remember, where focus goes, energy flows. If you focus on developing skills rather than “serving time,” the time in your current job will go much more quickly.
Take advantage of training
Many companies will invest in training their employees. Take advantage of it! If your current position involves online marketing, and you’re planning on creating an e-commerce business in the future, consider asking your manager for training on WordPress. This scenario would be a win-win because it will benefit you in your current job and your future business. If your company offers educational benefits, use them to make yourself more marketable. Even if it’s a small dollar amount, you can potentially take a class online.
Test and learn
Working for someone else is a great time to test and learn (using someone else’s budget). I’m not suggesting that you be reckless, but there is something to be said for the education that you can gain taking risks for someone else. If let’s say, your current position focuses on digital marketing, all that SEO, email and social media knowledge will come in handy when you start your own business. So, learn what works and what doesn’t because if you take notes now, it will benefit you in the long run!
When you hate your job, try to make it more bearable. If there are activities that you can’t stand, talk to your manager and delegate them to someone else. Instead, focus on the projects that you enjoy. Start setting boundaries. If you are working 60-hour weeks, stop! There is no way that you can work yourself to the bone and still have the mental and physical well-being that you’re going to need to take you to the next phase in your life and career. In short, start putting yourself first.
Work on your personal brand
No matter what your next step looks like, honing your personal brand is always beneficial. This is a good time to start networking or even join a corporate or philanthropic board. Start updating your LinkedIn and other social profiles and list all the accomplishments and skills you’ve acquired in your career. Now might be the perfect time to start a blog and keep building on it. Also, identify your unique value proposition. What makes you different and special? What will set you apart from your competition? Start designing your personal website and consider what media channels you will use to promote it. Finally, remember that your brand is about YOU, so authenticity is critical.
Find someone to confide in
Venting and talking about things out loud can be very therapeutic—especially when you hate your job. Don’t feel like you’re just complaining. While blowing off steam to family and a significant other is okay, I encourage you to find a trusted friend or even a coach or therapist to help you through this phase. Regularly unloading all those feelings and frustrations can be a great relief. (Word of caution: I would suggest not venting to co-workers—this will be counterproductive and could spread to other people like your boss).
Fill your tank
While you’re trying to survive that less than ideal position, it’s essential to fill your tank with activities that you enjoy. Begin committing to that exercise class on a regular basis. Start a hobby that you’ve always been interested in, like painting or photography. Go to yoga once a week. Plan a girl’s trip. Write in a journal. Start meditating. Take a French class. Go on nature walks. If you aren’t feeling appreciated or getting positive feedback at work, maybe you can consider volunteering or joining a professional organization to find that sense of purpose. You need to feel satisfied and nourished to make it through this in-between stage until you’re able to transition.
Practicing gratitude is one of the most widely recognized methods for improving one’s overall well-being. In 2007, Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology began researching gratitude and found that expressing gratitude improves mental and physical well-being. Being grateful also impacts the overall experience of happiness, and the effects tend to be long-lasting. One way to practice this is to write down five things you are grateful for each day, or if you want to incorporate this practice into your life, you can create a gratitude journal. Remember to include even the simplest things that you might overlook, like the comfortable mattress you sleep on or breathing clean air.
Finally, remember, if your current position were too comfortable, you wouldn’t have the incentive to move on to something more rewarding and satisfying. Sometimes being put in difficult situations is the universe’s way of telling us that it’s time to move on. So, plan your time wisely, look at it as a blessing and enjoy the ride!
Feeling stuck and unfulfilled in your current career? Download Caroline Castrillon’s free guide: 5 Signs It’s Time to Make a Bold Career Change!