There is really nothing worse than waking up everyday to a job you despise. Despite your best intentions, unforeseen structural changes at your company can force you into a situation you didn’t sign up for. The manager who recruited you may have left suddenly, leaving you to a supervisor who can barely remember your name, let alone recognize the value you add. Situations such as these have to be avoided at all costs in order to salvage, sustain, and optimize your career. Here are five suggestions on how to deal with a job you hate until you land something new.
Identify the root of your frustration
Take the time to reflect on why you hate your job. Is it the daily grind? The people around you? Your boss? Maybe it’s geographical – a two-hour commute on Metro North plus the subway in the middle of July is a terrible way to start your day. Simply understanding the root cause of your suffering at work can help psychologically by steering your mind to more positive aspects of your job.
Test the market & seek alternatives
It never hurts to initiate a job search while you are employed, which is ironically the best time to try to find something new. Call the team of headhunters who got you your current role and see who else is hiring. While you are at it, figure out if the market rate for your position has changed. Switching jobs may mean a quick raise, and seeing this for yourself may give you a sense of relief.
Turn a hobby into a side business
If you are simply stuck in your current role and need diversions outside the office, a great way to motivate yourself is by turning one of your hobbies into a side business. If you love art, photography or writing, there a number of freelance opportunities out there that can serve as a creative outlet for you to get your mind off your nightmare day job. If you enjoy helping or advising others in life, love or career, consider starting a consulting practice where you can sell yourself as an expert in your field.
If you can, take an hour out of your day to meet colleagues in other departments or other companies for lunch or coffee. Make this a habit and you will begin to open yourself to new ideas and roles. Let your friends know that you are looking for something else and they will remember that you are on the market. Should something materialize, they will almost certainly call you first. Having options and knowing you are valuable is the perfect way to deal with a job that has gone stale.
Focus on the positive
Concentrate on what your current job enables you to do. No role is perfect. Work to live rather than live to work. If you are fortunate enough to have normal hours and weekends free, plan mini vacations and special events with those you care about to give yourself something meaningful to do. And if you are lucky enough to be in a job you do hate but pays you handsomely (ahem, investment bankers) relative to your peers, well a lot of us won’t have too much sympathy for you. Save up your money for a glorious exit and leave on your own terms.
Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.