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8 Ways to Leverage a Job You Don't Like

career Apr 01, 2019

It's Monday morning, your alarm goes off, and as your eyes flutter open you realize it's time to get up and ready for work. The only problem is you're heading to a job you no longer love.

Sooner or later, it’s something we all face: a job we just can’t stand. It might be the job itself, the environment in which you're working, a few untenable co-workers, or your boss. There’s just something that rubs you the wrong way and is no longer working for you.

It's not an easy situation or feeling when you consider you may have spent a significant amount of money and years of education only to be stuck in a job or career you hate and feel trapped in with no clear way out. 

While you may be dreaming about going in to your bosses office proclaiming, "I quit," I want you to avoid the temptation. While your work situation may not be salvageable, you can definitely use your time at your current job to prep you for what's ahead.

When it does come time to leave, you want to make sure you do so intelligently.

By the time many of my clients come to me their fists are clenched and their teeth grinding has disrupted their sleep and caused a few migraines, so all they want from me is an exodus strategy. However, to prevent them from jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, I offer a few proven tips that can actually turn a untenable situation into a successful engagement.

Here are 8 ways to get the most of a difficult situation.

1. Understand why you don’t like it. If you understand the nature of the challenge with your job, you might be able to fix it. At the very least, you can ensure the next job you take doesn’t have the same issues. By gaining clarity on what you don't like or don't want, you begin to learn a lot about yourself. What don’t you like? Make a list and be as detailed as possible.

◦ Boss?
◦ Hours?
◦ Work environment?
◦ Pay?
◦ Co-workers?
◦ The work itself?

2. Change what you can. It’s possible that the things you don’t like about your job can be changed. You might be able to alter your schedule or move to a different office or cubicle. Perhaps there are other positions within the company that would make you happier. Avoid being a victim and change what you can.

3. Develop your skills. The job might stink, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be gained from it. You might be able to build some valuable skills or get the necessary experience to move to the next level. 

◦ What are the benefits of your current position? Do what you can to maximize them.

4. Make new connections. There's no better time to learn what other positions or opportunities are out there then when you're employed. Use this time to attend networking events, conferences, or make connections via LinkedIn to expand your zone of connections and influence. 

5. Start saving money. Often the #1 reason people stay at a job they hate is the money. And if you've been living beyond or even within your means, you may feel there's no way out (which is of course I'm sure is causing you a lot stress).  So build up your savings account which will hopefully allow you to have a sense of comfort and security when it's time for you to  make a move. This will particularly come in handy if you pivot into an entrepreneurial venture or take a position that involves a pay cut.

6. Make the most of your downtime. Your job might be more tolerable if you made the most of your leisure time. Avoid just going home after work and eating dinner in front of the TV. Find a few hobbies or spend time with friends. Find something that you like to do and do it. The goal is to find some fun and lower your stress levels.

◦ It might be a great time to find a passion project, a great volunteer opportunity, start an online business or write your memoirs. Who knows, you might generate enough income to leave your job. It worked for me.

7. Plan your exit strategy. What are your options? What is the best choice you can make for your long-term future?

◦ List the criteria of your ideal job, boss, and co-workers.

◦ Keep in mind what you don’t like about your current position.

◦ What companies interest you?

◦ Whom can you reach out to for advice or job leads?

◦ What would your ideal workday look like?

8. Be patient. A lack of patience can be a dangerous thing when you’re unhappy. You’re likely to favor any move that relieves your current discomfort, even if it severely limits your future.

◦ Exercise caution and examine all of your options. Some short-term pain might be part of making the smartest career decision.

Summary

Everyone eventually has to deal with a job they don’t like. I get it! The key is to make the best of it and do what you can to better the situation.

Remember, even though you're not loving where you are right now, it doesn’t mean that the time you're there, the role you're in and the skills you're developing are completely worthless.  It's all about perspective.

Learn all you can while you’re there and take the time to figure out what you want to do next. In the interim take care of yourself, manage your stress levels and try to be patient. Avoid quitting without a game plan and clarity.

Keep these things in mind while weighing your options. It will help reduce the anxiety of Monday mornings.

Live, laugh and unapologetically shine,

Carol

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