Anna Swenson
October 29, 2013 10:00 am

We’ve all had them: The boring jobs, the awful environments, the long hours or the poor treatment that make your job just the worst thing ever. Whether it’s something you do in high school to save money for a car or an opportunity after college that’s not what you thought it was going to be, even the most proactive and lucky professionals may find themselves unhappy in their job sometimes. Read on to find out how to stay sane while working a position that is pretty much the opposite of your dream job:

It’s only temporary

When you’re cleaning the sticky walk-in fridge after soy milk has spilled all over the floor again, it can feel like you’re going to be stuck doing bad jobs forever. Maybe your job isn’t that annoying, but it doesn’t challenge you. Maybe you like your coworkers, but it’s just not quite your dream. Whatever is wrong about your job, don’t let it get you into the thought spiral that you are stuck in it forever. Stop those negative thoughts by telling yourself: It’s not forever. It’s just for now. It will get better.

Do the work to make it better

It’s really, really hard to look for a new job while already working one that sucks. But as much as we all might want it to, your dream job – or even a job that you hate even a tiny bit less – isn’t going to fall into you lap. It can help to give yourself fair goals so you feel like you’re making progress. Even applying for one job a week, or one job a month, is empowering. You’re putting in the work to make a bad situation better.

Before you make your goals, think about just what it is that you don’t like about your current job. Is it the tasks you do each day you don’t like? Is it the wrong field? Is it the lack of opportunity for promotion or increased training? This exercise isn’t to wallow in everything that’s wrong with your current job. It’s to make sure that when you are looking for a new job, you don’t waste your time applying to jobs that have the same problems as your current position.

Create a positive environment around yourself

You’re probably not going to get a new job tomorrow, so there are few ways you can improve your outlook until that happens. Putting up a few pictures of the people you love in your desk or locker can go a long way to make you smile when you’re on yet another boring conference call. Try putting up a picture of your favorite place in a frame near your workspace. It can be the beach or your favorite vacation spot, but could also be something more personal: It can also be a picture of a latte at your favorite café table, or a snapshot of your cat on your bed. Whatever will break you out of your day-to-day frustration with a quick glance is a good image to bring with you.

If you’re bringing your job-related frustration home with you, try create some clear delineation between the time you’re working and when you’re not. As you drive away from the office, visualize all the work frustrations being left behind you. If you start to get upset on the train to work, picture the moment at the end of the day when you’ll get to shut and lock the metaphorical door on the workday. If you work from home, try having a ritual like logging off the computer or going for a walk to signify the end of the work day. It won’t help to let your unhappiness at work bleed over into the awesome non-work parts of your life.

Know what you’re worth and fight for it

Balancing what you want for your life and what you have to do the pay to rent is tough, so give yourself credit for how hard you’re working at both. Make sure you don’t let that struggle make you desperate. Even if you are currently doing a job that isn’t interesting, doesn’t challenge you, or doesn’t help the causes you’d like to tackle, that doesn’t mean you aren’t worth one that does. You aren’t stuck. You’re doing what you can with what you have.

Remember: This wrong, boring, awful job isn’t forever. Armed with reasonable goals and a few pictures of your dog on your desk, you already have everything you need to make the future you’ve imagined.

Featured image via ShutterStock

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