Being in a job that suits who you are and what you love to do is an essential part of living a fully expressed and happy life. Finding that type of job sometimes takes a journey of trial and error. At times we find ourselves in career positions that we don't love, but we enjoy them enough to make the most of it, to learn and to contribute in meaningful ways. These experiences build our knowledge of who we are and what we enjoy doing, and they lead us forward on our career journey. However, you might find yourself in a situation where you genuinely can't tolerate the job you've found yourself in. What can you do if you're in a hair tearing, suffocating, soul destroying career situation and you can't fathom how to make it through another day?
Most would say, quit! This is most definitely an essential part of the master plan of moving on to greener pastures. However, quitting right away may not be possible for all people in this situation. You might have contractual obligations to meet, or certain responsibilities that mean you simply can't afford to have downtime between jobs and so need to stay where you are until you secure the right job. In that case, you face carrying out your day to day duties in your current job, while disliking every moment of it. For whatever reason you're stuck in a job you love to hate, we've put together this 23 step survival kit to help you get through…
1. Make the firm decision to leave
Regardless of whether you act upon the decision right now, you have to make a firm decision to leave or to stay. Don't dilly dally around in the hinterland of indecision. Draw a line in the proverbial sand and state with absolute conviction that you are going to leave or going to stay. If you're going to stay, you're sure to find the rest of the steps below helpful in terms of coming to a point where you can tolerate or even enjoy the job you're in. If you're going to leave, then the firm decision to do so will literally set your heart free and energetically create the starting point of the momentum required to bring about the career opportunity that is right for you.
EVERYTHING starts with your state of being (your beliefs, thoughts, feelings and actions). You must make a choice and that choice inside your head is literally what kick starts the Universe responding in accordance with what you've decided. Never underestimate the power of a declaration, even a silent and private one inside your head.
2. Stop playing the victim
It's all too easy to blame external factors when we end up in a situation we don't like. It's the job, it's the people, it's the environment, it's life, it's what happened to me last week, it's what that person said, it's that hiring manager who told lies at the interview and said this job was awesome and it's totally not.
To this I say… WHATEVER! How is that helping you? Full stop it is not helping you. True or not, as soon as you blame anything outside of your control for your situation and how you feel about it, you have given away your power. As soon as you give your power away, you become… well, powerless! And that makes you a victim.
You are NOT a victim. To stop playing the victim, simply acknowledge that no one has control over what you believe, think, feel or do, and choose to see your situation as a transitory one on your journey of change. Looking back does you no good. Be present and be empowered in order to look to the future you are creating.
3. Have empathy for dysfunction
If the reason you dislike your job is because of some level of dysfunction, the most powerful way to survive that is to bring empathy to the table. Dysfunction at work can show up as poor management, rogue leadership, chaotic environments, negative people, unethical or immoral behaviour, substandard practises, failing systems and so many other iterations of this.
Whenever we are faced with something that a) goes against what we expect, b) goes against what we believe is good or right or c) for whatever other reason doesn't gel with who we are and what we enjoy… then our natural reaction is to judge it. When we judge something, we leave no room for improvement (either in our feelings about it or in the actual situation). Our judgement is a condemnation and non-acceptance of what is, and in doing so we draw a line between ourselves and ‘it'. It becomes like a war in our minds.
Life is not perfect, organisations are not perfect, people are not perfect, operations are not perfect, relationships are not perfect… we live in an imperfect world and we are awesomely imperfect beings. Often when an organisation, environment, person or group of people has ‘broken down' (meaning it is off on a tangent, behaving erratically or generally operating with negativity) it is because all consciousness has been lost.
Consciousness is loving awareness. Conscious entities and conscious people don't do things to disadvantage or hurt others. Sometimes a person or people are so “asleep” (i.e. living with no awareness at all) that they don't realise they are behaving badly. They are totally unconscious. They lose any awareness of “the whole”. Agendas are at play. Win-win, success for all, love and compassion have all gone out the window.
To transform your experience of a dysfunctional situation or person, bring your empathy to it. Appreciate that a completely unconscious person doesn't have the awareness you have, that is why they are dysfunctional and create dysfunction around themselves. There is only one way to shift your own experience of something negative, and have a truly positive energetic impact on that negative thing/situation/person, and that is to hold your own consciousness at a high level. Witness it all, acknowledge that there is likely to be no consciousness or loving energy going on behind it, and that your consciousness and loving energy is the only thing that can make a difference. It doesn't mean you are responsible for improving it, it simply means being your true self with full consciousness and empathy is the only thing within your control that can make any difference. It is also an empowering thing you can do to help you through it, supporting you to bring objectivity and non-judgement into the equation which greatly assists you in your survival strategy!
4. Understand you are there for a reason
I'm a subscriber to both free will and destiny. That is not fence sitting, by the way. That is called co-creation. We operate with our own decision making capabilities, we exercise our free will, we take a journey in our own lives. However, a bigger force is at play. The Universe (or what you might call the quantum field of universal energy, Source, or Divinity) is co-creating with you. Every situation you find yourself in serves a purpose. Every scene in your life offers you learning and growth. You are always right where you need to be, whether you like it or not. Even in the crappiest of times, we learn something. We are here for growth and evolution, and while I don't support awful things that we all go through from time to time, I do believe we all become stronger and better people for it.
The power to remove yourself from a situation you deem to be unacceptable, is greater if you understand that there is a reason you are there in the first place. It doesn't mean you need to stay there, it just means it hasn't been for nothing and if you look closely enough with an objective perspective, you'll see lessons learned and gifts in disguise. This realisation creates an immense sense of inner freedom and acceptance of what is.
Maybe the reason you were (are) there was for your own benefit, to face challenges which triggered your growth. Maybe you have been shining a light for someone you encountered in your work, and that has made a difference in their life. Maybe you are being prepared for the next stage in your life journey. Challenges often prepare us for magic ahead.
5. Be the best house on the worst street
We've all heard the saying “worst house on the best street” or “best house on the worst street”. If you're in an organisation, environment or job you don't like, to survive and thrive for as long as you have to be there, at least choose to be the best you that you can be while in the worst job that you could be in.
What exactly does it achieve for you and your life if you succumb to negative emotions and give up, and do as little in your job as you can get away with? What message does that send to the Universe, to all those around you, and to yourself?
Respect yourself enough to do everything you do to the best of your ability. At least that way you can feel good about yourself and say that even in the worst of situations, you gave all that you could give with the best of intentions.
So ask yourself:
- Are you being half-hearted?
- Are you biding your time?
- Are doing less than you are capable of?
As long as you are there, show life that you mean business and do your best. It's a huge statement energetically and literally creates momentum from the inside out that will help you to come closer to the job you really want… watch what happens as energy weaves in response. Stay tuned for opportunities, synchronicities and change…
6. Create “GET THROUGH” rituals
“Oh no, it's 8am, I have 9 hours to go. Oh no, it's Monday, I have 5 more days of this. Oh no, it's only 1pm, I have a whole afternoon until I can escape.”
Some people are dead. You are not. You my lucky friend are alive, gifted with the opportunity to live. The second you start wishing your life would go faster, you have officially become insane. I understand that you might have those feelings about wanting the days to whiz by, or the weekend to hurry up and arrive (I used to feel like that many times), but really stop and think about what you're saying to yourself. You want time to disappear and hurry up your living process, so that in fact you have less life to live. Where's the sense in that?
So you're stuck where you are for now, fine. Let's look at ways to make those days and hours more enjoyable. How can you make your days at work not just bearable but actually gel with what you love. Make that job you love to hate work in your favour. You might not love your work, but you can integrate things you do love into your work day in order to make it more ‘you'. Such as:
- Identify your lowest times of the day in terms of feeling, energy, creativity, motivation and be prepared to address it at that time. Some people are morning people but take a dive in the afternoon. Others battle to find their mojo before mid morning and thrive in the afternoon. Know the time of day when you feel at your worst, and when it hits you'll be prepared and ready to act. You might a) make your favourite energising snack b) grab a tasty juice or herbal tea (whatever you enjoy) or c) take a brisk walk around the block. BEWARE – medicating yourself with unhealthy food and drink during low periods is very common… sugar and caffeine hits are the sad-workers best friend. So, do something that will lift you up but be kind to your body as you do so. Healthier body = happier mind.
- Take your lunch break and do something constructive with it. Yes you will eat your lunch, but what else? Love to read… read a book. Love to exercise… go for a run. Love to socialize… meet up with friends. Love to shop… go shopping (or window shopping!) Love to _______ (fill in the blank and work out a way to integrate what you love into your lunch break). This will lift your energy while you do what you love and that positive energy will literally seep into your afternoon at work.
- Listen to music – if your work environment allows, stick your headphones on for a few minutes and listen to the one song you know makes you feel AMAZO. Sound has it's own energy frequency and it literally interacts with your own energy field and lifts you up.
It's all about dropping bad habits and introducing rituals.
7. Change Your Work Space
If possible, switch up your immediate work space. If that requires that you ask your manager/employer for permission to do so, then do that. Put the case to them as to why you want to change your work space and what you intend to do. Explain to them that it's to support your work happiness and balance. Here are a few examples of what we mean by change your work space (change is as good as a holiday!)
- COLOUR – add colour. Colour literally shifts moods. Colour has very distinctive psychology. Check out this amazing infographic on colour psychology to help you pick colours that will match the type of mood you want to experience at work. You might print out photos or images with those colours, you might add a picture, ribbon, flower, greeting card, brightly coloured paper… anything you can get your hands on that inspires you visually.
- SMELL – if possible add scents that lift you up. Aromatherapy is extremely powerful in terms of particular scents generating particular moods. Like color, smell affects us drastically. Certain scents are energizing and revitalizing, other scents are relaxing and calming. Find a scent that matches your desired mood and look for ways to integrate it. Using scents at work is not always easy as often you'll be surrounded by other people and not everyone will appreciate your choices! You might choose to use aromatherapy oils, candles or dab a scent on a tissue and sniff it from time to time (great if you are anxious or stressed to do this with a relaxing scent like lavender) or you might put fragrant flowers on your desk.
- SOUND – if you find the area you work in difficult to focus/operate and stay positive because of particular noise you might consider asking to move your desk/work space to somewhere else in the environment that better suits you. It's okay to ask for these things if you truly believe it will make a difference to your wellbeing and performance. What's the worst that can happen? They say no, and you know where you stand. If possible, use music that you enjoy (through headphones if necessary) to help you enjoy your work space.
Last point on changing your work space… do it regularly, at least every 2 weeks. You may become immune to the effects of what you put in your work space as you become more and more used to seeing/smelling/hearing it. Changing it up keeps it fresh, interesting and new to your senses. All of these things above are designed to make you feel your best. When you feel your best, you are most inspired, most motivated, most creative and most productive. It is win win for everyone.
8. Let the Light Shine In
While this doesn't apply to every type of job, many jobs involve working inside. Whether it's in an office, factory, retail shop, hotel, or at home in your own business… humans need daylight. If you're lucky enough to work next to a window and have real sunlight that's awesome. Many people will be operating under man-made lighting. It's important to be conscious about getting sunlight each day. We need sunlight to produce Vitamin D and sunlight helps to lift our mood. Getting out in the fresh air with natural sunlight is so important, with respect for the care we must give to our skin and eyes to ensure we aren't overexposed (disclaimer!)
9. Opt Out of Complaining & Be Constructive
Participate in making your work experience the best it can be, and be constructive as you go about it. There's nothing worse than someone who wants to change things but their approach is to complain and blame their way into change. If you're going to have your say about something, be constructive. The old, “if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all” could be changed to “if you don't have something positive and solution oriented to say, don't say anything at all”. The habit of complaining is destructive. By bringing your awareness to small but destructive habits, and letting them go, you can truly shift your experience of life.
10. Identify One Skill You Can Take Away With You
No matter what job you're in, there will be one skill that the job has either taught you, helped you to refine, or required you to change that means the job has added value to you. It might be that you do apply that skill in future, or it might be that the skill has added to your overall competency and value offering to future employers. Either way, the point is to look for the blessing in the job and be grateful for it. See the good, that will help you appreciate the job even when it feels intolerable.
11. Identify One Life Lesson This Job Has Taught You
Every job teaches us something beyond skills and competency in the workplace. We learn life lessons through our relationships and interactions with other people, both socially and at work. You might have learnt to better trust your intuition. You might have learnt how to resolve relationship conflict. You might have learnt what is most important to you in life. You might have learnt what types of people you most need to surround yourself with in order to thrive. Whatever the life lesson/s you've learnt there, the job has gifted that to you. The lesson or lessons are there, if you are willing to look closely enough to see them. You are never the same after every experience you have, it's a testament to your character if you can see the blessing regardless of whether the experience was good or bad.
FYI – the most transformative life lessons often come out of the worst situations. Don't believe me? Check out our Breakdowns to Breakthroughs free audio.
12. Ask for More Responsibility
“WTF? I'm telling you I don't like my job and you want me to ask for more responsbility? Why the heck would I want to do that?!”
Just bear with me here. Think about why you don't like you're job. Are you bored? Are you under-utilised? Are you lacking challenge? Do you feel it's time to extend your skills? Do you want to learn new things? Are you ready to expand and be more creative and experience new horizons? If you're not in a position to leave this job right now, then consider what you could gain from asking for more responsibility.
You could learn new things. You could improve your value offering for future employers, juicing up your resume! You could actually start to enjoy your current situation a whole lot more (and who knows where that might lead!). Just reflect for a moment and be willing to entertain the possibility that just maybe, there could be something you can do in your current job to extend yourself and bring an element of enjoyment.
13. Approach An Inspirer
What's an inspirer? In the context of this discussion, an inspirer is someone who is doing something you would love to do, or if you don't know what you'd love to do, then it is someone who is simply doing what they love to do (whatever that is).
Why would you approach them? You want to put yourself in the company of inspirers. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up while you continue doing what you must do in your current job. The energy of inspirers can literally change your life. Be around them. Ask them questions. Take guidance from them.
Feel the possibility within you start to grow as you see others really loving what they do, and know that it's available for you too, and that it is happening for you (you just might not be able to see it yet). If you know where you want to go in your career or what type of work you love to do, spend time with people in those places/organisations/positions and learn from them. Take them for a drink or lunch, or ask them to mentor you. You won't know until you ask and most people will be flattered to think that they could help you and you would think enough of them and care enough about yourself to even take the time to ask.
14. Take on Extra-curricular Work Activities
If you're going to have to be in your job for now, you might as well bring some fun into your experience in whatever way you can. Become chair of the social committee, organise a bake sale, join the indoor netball team, do something on the social side of your workplace that allows your energy and creativity to be exerted. It doesn't strengthen your commitment to staying in the job, you are still as free to leave.
Energy that is not channelled into something will end up getting blocked inside you. Blocked up energy is NOT good. You have to let your energy flow. Find a way to allow that to happen outside of work or with extra-curricular activities at work. Ensure you are fully expressed.
15. Clean it Up
Be honest with yourself and ask if there is any aspect of yourself, your work or your work space that is lazy, messy, disorganized, chaotic or generally un-cared for because of the fact you don't like your job. What, if anything, has slipped into disarray?
If you're serious about finding a job you love, then put love and care into all aspects of your life and treat life like you give a damn. It's easy to get into a slump and to let things slip, it happens to us all at one time or another. As we start to feel worse and more stuck, things slip further and further, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Our work and our work space can start to reflect how we feel inside, making us then feel worse and worse about ourselves. It's a vicious cycle.
Set yourself up for success by caring about yourself and your work, even if it's work you'd rather not have to do. Understand that everything you do is an energetic imprint upon the Universe (upon the quantum field of universal energy). You are telling it what you want and what you think you're worth and what you are creating in the future by exactly how you are being right now.
So, what message are you sending? What are you imprinting energetically, and creating for tomorrow, and all the days beyond?
16. Be the Change You Want to See
Got a gripe about the behaviour going on in your workplace? Check yourself and choose to be the change you wish to see. Rise above the things that drag you down. Be the bigger person. Behave beyond reproach. Be an example. Be a leader.
Behave like the person you know your future employer wants to hire. You'd be surprised what happens when you role model the change you want to experience.
17. How Does Your Work Situation Reflect Your Life?
You know you don't like your job. But the question now is – do you like you?
Reflect on how happy you are with yourself. At times our life circumstances take a downward spiral. The external world is a mirror of our internal landscape.
Is there something else going on for you that might be even more important than addressing this job that you don't like?
Sometimes the most powerful way to shift external circumstance is to shift what is going on within us. It's about realizing that our “success” in the external world starts from within and manifests outward into the life we experience.
- Do you love yourself unconditionally?
- Do you feel worthy?
- Do you feel like you are enough?
- Do you feel complete?
- Do you feel supported by life and the Universe?
Things happen in our lives and sometimes we make it mean that we're not loveable, we're not worthy, we're not complete, we're not good enough or we're unsupported. As a result we experience blocks in our lives that we just can't seem to overcome. It's not until we love ourselves fully that we see the remarkable shifts start to occur in our circumstances that we have wanted for so long and yet have been so elusive to us. It can seem like the self-love and the shifts in our circumstances are totally unrelated. But they are not. Your beliefs about yourself create your life.
Just as you are right now, you are loved, worthy, enough and complete. Just as you are, right now, you are supported by life and the Universe. The quantum field of universal energy is designed this way. The only key to unlock the power of this is for you to believe that this is true and to own it.
- Is your career situation lacking because it's an outward reflection of a feeling of lack within?
- Do you not have the job you want because inside you don't believe you deserve the job you want?
- Does the job you want actually exist right now and you know it does, but you lack the confidence to grab the bull by the horns?
These are confronting questions. For some people reading this, it will mean nothing and sound like a pointless deep and meaningful. For others, it may hit a nerve. If your nerve was hit, I promise you that looking more closely is the ONLY way for you to achieve what you so very deeply want and deserve in this life. And, I encourage you to get in touch with me if that is the case. I'm passionate about supporting people and I offer both extensive human resources/recruitment expertise and coaching/personal development expertise to fast forward you into the space you deserve. Connect with me.
18. Break Boredom & Boost Your Resume
For some people it's boredom in their job that's the killer. If you feel like you're wiling away the hours, waiting for the right job to come along, while your brain cells die in the process from lack of stimulation and challenge, then it's time to wake up and step up!
If you have time on your hands and intellect to put to good use, then apply it right here right now in the job you're in – to leave a legacy behind you that adds value, contributes to those coming behind you and boosts your resume at the same time.
Inventory all the areas that you could add value in with your current job, team or company. How could processes, systems, products, service, training, environments, documentation be improved? What could you do to help resolve any issues, breakdowns or bottlenecks that you're aware of, even if it's outside your current job description.
Put your hand up to do this in addition to your job. See what management says in response. Why wouldn't you at least offer?
Be of service, contribute, give, even if you don't love the company you're working for. Do it. Drop judgement, drop grudges, drop the “me and them” duality mindset. Consider your remaining time in your current job as one of service. Who knows, perhaps you're still there because you're being asked to give of all your good qualities and your experience to help improve that place. Put the opportunity to good use.
If that were your business, what you would do to improve it?
You can go to work every day thinking your job is a problem. Or you can know the right job will come along soon, and until then you can go to work every day thinking you're a solution ready to be applied.
19. Don't Beat Yourself Up
As easy as it is to fall into blaming others for what you don't like about your job, it's also just as easy to fall into blaming yourself for being there. If you run any negative self-talk like “I shouldn't have taken this job”, “It's my own fault for doing XYZ”, “I'm not good enough for the jobs I want and that's why I'm stuck here”, “I can't leave because it'll look bad on my resume and people will judge me”… then stop running that racket and start feeding yourself the truth. The truth is this:
Sometimes shit happens. Then our only job is to learn something good from it, and do something to change it.
You're as important as the next person, be it CEO, contact center phone operator, fashion designer, business analyst, factory machine operator, accounts clerk or zoo keeper. What you do is not at play here. WHO YOU ARE and HOW YOU ARE BEING is more important.
20. Appreciate What You Have
Yes, gratitude is talked about in almost every personal growth blog. There's a reason. IT'S VERY IMPORTANT!
* It puts crappy times into perspective
* It brings positive light to what you've felt stuck by or stuck in
* It shifts your energy (and your energy creates your life)
* What you focus on is what you get
* What you give thanks for multiplies
You might not like your job, but you can be grateful you have a job, you can be grateful for the income you receive and you can be grateful for the things you've learnt (inspiring and challenging) while working there.
21. Live a Mantra
When your mind is playing the “I can't take it any more” broken record to a wailing sound of teeny tiny violin, kick that repetitive sound track by bringing in an amped up mantra you can really live by!
Choose the most inspiring quote you can find, one that speaks directly to how you feel and what you want to see happen in your work life, and print it out in large, bold letters. Stick it in your work space so you can look at it everyday. When your broken record kicks in (when the ego starts to feel sorry for itself) – read your mantra and repeat it over and over in your head. If you don't want everyone in your workplace to see your mantra, write it inside a journal that you keep on your desk and make it a ritual to read it every morning and whenever you feel down.
22. Move it, Move it
Your physical body plays a part in how you feel, and how you feel plays a part in your physical body. When you feel low, move yourself. Walk around your work space, get some fresh air if you can. Stretch your body (there are plenty of effective stretches you can do while sitting or standing in one spot). And…
Sometimes you just want to scream. It's called “My inner monster has been awakened”. Something might trigger you, or you just feel like you're going to explode unless you can get out right now and find that job you know you deserve and so passionately want to find. In the moments when the inner monster stirs and you're afraid the person next to you is going to bear the full force of your monster's wrath… just breathe. More specifically, take 10 deep breaths from your diaphragm. It's well known to have an incredibly relaxing effect on the body.
Check out this absolutely awesome and adorable Sesame Street short video: “Belly Breathe” featuring Elmo, Colbie Caillat & Common. It really works!
All 23 steps in this survival kit are designed to shift your energy. Nothing stops progress and miracles in your life like feeling bad. Lift yourself up. Own your happiness and do something about it. Be the LEADER OF YOUR WORK LIFE.
Warmest wishes, Bernadette
If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy:
- 28 Habits That Block Your Happiness & How to Let Them Go
- The 22 Characteristics of Allowing or Blocking Your Life
Bernadette Logue (known to everyone as “B”) is the Leader of The Daily Positive, a Transformation Life Coach and the author of 3 personal growth books – guiding you on how to master your mind, to live consciously and soul-aligned. To receive regular coaching resources and support, join B in EvolveHQ, The Daily Positive’s private personal growth membership and community. To find out more about B click here.