Only 13 percent of employees are truly engaged at work. These results, published in a 2013 Gallup survey of employees in 142 countries, are disheartening. Millions of people are disengaged from their jobs.
We spend much of our time during the best years of our lives working. When work is unfulfilling, the effects can seep into everything we do. When we feel frustrated and stuck, those feelings can carry over into our personal lives, causing us to be irritable, restless, and unhappy. Our relationships may suffer and self-confidence can plummet.
How to Tolerate and Maybe Even Like Your Job When You Can’t Leave It
I’m on a mission to help people find what lights them up and spend their time doing what actually matters to them. As people discover their passions and strengths, they often end up changing careers. However, sometimes quitting your job immediately isn’t the best option. When you have a mortgage, a family, and bills to pay, jumping ship right away isn’t necessarily the wisest short-term plan.
Thankfully, there are strategies to help you survive – and even thrive – at a job you dislike; they may even help you enjoy it again.
Here are 7 techniques to make your life less miserable when you’re inwardly screaming, “I want to quit my job!”
1. Understand Who You Are
Become a self-expert. The job you dread gives you plenty of opportunities to discover who you are. As you discover things you crave, factors you currently enjoy, and what you can’t stand about your present job, write them down. Keep an ongoing journal of this information. The better you understand yourself, the more you’ll know what kind of work environment you’ll best thrive in, and you can set a long-term goal to change companies or careers. Knowing who you are is a crucial step to making the maximum impact with your life. When you discover what lights you up and the natural strengths you have, you’ll be closer to knowing what type of work environment you’ll shine in.
You’ll find the most fulfillment in a career that fits your personality and allows you to leverage your unique strengths and do work you love. It’s impossible to find work you love if you don’t know what you love in the first place. Make it your mission to discover who you are!
If you don’t know who you are, ask several friends and family members to list 3 of your strengths. Also, there are many incredible resources to help you better understand yourself. Some of my favorite books for self-discovery are What Color is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles and I Could Do Anything if I Only Knew What it Was by Barbara Sher. I’ve also found the Myers-Briggs inventory, the How to Fascinate test by Sally Hogshead, and the Holland Code test all to be incredibly helpful.
2. Maximize Your Strengths
Once you understand your natural strengths, capitalize on them. Even if this job isn’t one you picture yourself at long-term, there may be areas of your current company you could enjoy being a part of. Do you enjoy event planning? Throw together an awesome company party. Are you friendly and great with the public? Offer to be involved with public relations for the business. The key is to volunteer to be part of something that can help you develop your strengths even further, and then crush it. By doing an awesome job with a special project you enjoy, you’ll be spending at least part of your work days doing something that excites you. Also, by taking initiative and doing excellent work, future opportunities may arise for you to do more of those projects.
3. Negotiate Your Schedule
Some jobs are intolerable due to the commute or the schedule. Can you work 4 longer days instead of 5 shorter days in order to commute one less day per week (and enjoy 3-day weekends as an extra benefit)? Are you able to adjust your hours and either start your days earlier or end later than typical hours in order to avoid the rush-hour commute? Is your job one that could potentially be done from home some days? Will your company allow you to bank your vacation time and leave for a month-long trip? Communicate with your boss; you never know what possibilities exist unless you ask. Having a schedule that better suits your lifestyle may solve a lot of your work frustrations.
4. Focus on Connecting With Your Coworkers
Pick one of your coworkers who inspires you and spend more time around him or her. Take a walk together during lunch, volunteer to work on a project together, or start a friendly fitness challenge with each other. You don’t have to choose someone who inspires you as far as career goals are concerned. You can choose someone who inspires you to become more physically fit, someone who is excellent at managing stress, someone you look up to for parenting advice, or any other inspiring reason. Life is all about connecting with others. Many lifelong friendships begin at the workplace. Take advantage every day of the opportunities you are given at work to build relationships with others. You may find you have awesome coworkers who help make work something you actually look forward to.
5. Be the Light in Someone’s Day
Strive to be the light in someone’s day each day. Make a conscious effort when you interact with others to be positive and upbeat. Give sincere, thoughtful compliments. Listen attentively and be actively engaged with coworkers and clients. Encourage and support others. You may be the best thing that happens to them every day. As you turn your focus onto what value you can add to your company instead of thinking incessantly about what your job lacks, your days may significantly improve.
6. Get Control of Your Finances
Start decreasing your spending so you’re not stuck in your job due to financial stress. Decreasing the financial burdens in your life can give you much more freedom. An improved financial state may also allow you to decrease to part-time hours or invest in starting a business on the side. At a minimum, having a better financial situation can allow you to actually travel somewhere fun during your vacation time and feel relaxed and rejuvenated when you return to work.
7. Draw Your Line in the Sand
You have a unique personality and strengths, and you can offer the world something nobody else can. Keep discovering who you are, what lights you up, and the dent you want to make in the world. And as you do that, draw your line in the sand; set a future date to quit your job.
Once you choose your quit date, immediately start investing time in self-discovery so you have a solid understanding of who you are and what you’re looking for. Commit to using the above strategies to make your job more enjoyable. Take control of your financial situation and plan a wise exit strategy. When your quit date arrives, if you still dislike your job, you’ll have the freedom to quit, and you’ll have the self-awareness to choose a career path that better suits you.
By consistently applying the above strategies, your job may become more tolerable. As you become a self-expert, you may discover an area of your company that can utilize your wonderful strengths, and may find work you love within your current company. Changing your work schedule may be just the change you need to get you out of your slump. Building strong relationships with coworkers and focusing on serving others can help improve your attitude. And, if work continues to be frustrating, having an exit plan and a specific financial strategy to become free from your employer will help decrease your feelings of being stuck.
Just remember, life is too short to settle and spend year after year at a job you aren’t excited about. Continue to take action to improve your situation, and don’t ever give up on your quest to find work you love!
~ Kerry Petsinger can help you spend your time doing what you love. For your free “30 Powerful Questions to Find Your Passion” workbook, click here!