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I'm Stuck At a Job That I Hate- Part One

So, you’re stuck at a job that you hate. It can feel incredibly frustrating to know the place that you spend most of your waking hours is a place that you dread. For many of us, we don’t have the option to just say, “see yah” to our boss. It can take time to figure out next steps and find a new position. What do you do until then? When a situation is outside of your control (like this one), there are two important steps to take: 1) Work to stop distressing yourself about aspects of the situation that you cannot change and, 2) Determine actionable steps forward. In today’s blog, we’re going to focus on how to change your perspective about the situation to help facilitate change.

1. Think Differently About Motivation

There’s a good chance that you’re dreading work because you just aren’t motivated. Maybe you’re no longer passionate about your job, aren’t meshing well with your team, or just don’t feel like working. Whatever the reason, you still have work to do. There is a misconception that you HAVE to be motivated in order to be productive. Being motivated definitely helps you WANT to get your work done, but there is no real reason you HAVE to be motivated to start working. If you sit around and wait for motivation to strike, you will likely start procrastinating, spend more time on work than need be, and stay at the office longer. If you find yourself in this rut, try to be more flexible in your thinking. Rather than demanding that you HAVE to be motivated to get your work done, recognize that while it would be really NICE and HELPFUL to be motivated, you don’t HAVE to be to finish your assignment. Whether or not you’re motivated, you have the ability to be productive. The short-term pain of getting your work done will actually lead to long-term gains, such as: maintaining a good rapport with your boss (professional references are important!!), supporting your team, and progressing in your career while you consider next steps.

2. Stop Denying Reality

Sometimes, we can talk ourselves into believing anything. When you’re in a job that you hate, you may find yourself thinking, “Work SHOULD be more enjoyable!” However, the reality is that work ISN’T enjoyable for you right now- otherwise, you probably wouldn’t be looking to leave. Think of it this way- I could demand that it not be 90 degrees in NYC today, but the reality is that it’s hot and humid. My demands won’t change the weather pattern. In other words, when we hold onto rigid demands, our perspective often isn’t aligning with reality. The more we demand that the reality be different, and then nothing changes, the more frustrated and upset we become. What is much more helpful is acknowledging that, “I WISH work were more enjoyable; but, there is no reason it has to be enjoyable 100% of the is work after all.” When you’re being realistic, you aren’t compounding an already frustrating situation by further upsetting yourself. When our perspective aligns with reality, we are better able to take action that is within our control. For example, figuring out what you can do to make work just a little more enjoyable, such as: meeting a friend for drinks after work, going out for lunch, or working remotely one day a week (if possible).

3. Build-Up Your Work Frustration Tolerance

Now, let’s dive-in to that feeling of dread. It can be rough to wake-up with your stomach in knots, knowing that in the next hour you’re expected to walk into that office. I know that if I tried to convince you that, “Work really isn’t that bad,” or “Look on the brighter side, at least you have a job,” you probably wouldn’t finish this blog- there is no way I could convince you to think positively about a situation that you find to be negative! What I can suggest, however, is to work on building up your work frustration tolerance. In other words, shift your thinking. Why? If you continue to tell yourself, “I CAN’T STAND how miserable work is, and I CAN’T STAND being stuck here” you’re going to start believing that this situation is intolerable. Once you start believing this statement, you’ll just start dreading work even more. If you’re going to be stuck at a job you don’t particularly like for some time, the least you can do is not make the situation more frustrating. The key to building up that work frustration tolerance is to remind yourself that you can tolerate challenging/frustrating/boring/demanding situations, because you're capable of withstanding and getting through situations that you don’t like. It’s not easy, or super fun, but we are still capable. In this situation, shifting your perspective may involve thinking something like, “Work isn’t great right now; but, I’ve been tolerating this feeling of frustration for the past few months, and I’m still able to produce my work. I can clearly tolerate going to work, and do well, even if I don’t actually like it here.

I know how this sounds, “So, I’m supposed to just tell myself I can TOLERATE a work situation that I don’t like, and then keep going in everyday and feeling blah?” What I’m actually proposing is quite the opposite. Once you address your unhelpful thoughts about the situation, you’re no longer spending time making yourself more stressed about what you can't change in the moment. As a result, you’ll be more in control of your emotional and behavioral reactions, which will help you to better evaluate what steps you can take to effectuate change. Even though you may not be able to leave your job ASAP, there are different strategies you can use to make work days less dreadful and more tolerable. Stay tuned next week as we discuss these strategies and focus on what you can DO when, “I'm Stuck at a Job That I Hate.”

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