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

Last week, we discussed how to think differently about a job that you hate. Today, we’re going to discuss what you can DO when you’re feeling stuck at a job that you hate.

1) Leave Work At The Door

After spending a day somewhere you don’t want to be, it can be very tempting to come home and vent. Sometimes venting can help you to feel better by getting things off your chest, but other times venting can actually make you feel worse. Venting can be a form of “rumination”- rumination occurs when we replay negative thoughts, events, or situations over and over in our mind (or out loud) without actually coming to a solution. Rumination is problematic because the more that we replay these negative situations, the more upset we become. The more distressed we become, the less likely we are (and the more difficult it becomes) to make forward progress toward a solution. So, rather than fall into this pattern of leaving work, and then allowing work to occupy your free time by venting- try to leave work at the door. When you catch yourself in that spiral of negative thoughts about work, tell yourself “STOP!” as a way to disrupt this thought pattern. Next, work to change your unhelpful thoughts about the situation to more helpful thoughts (check out "I'm Stuck at a Job That I Hate- Part One" to learn more about changing your thoughts). By stopping rumination, you can regain control over your thinking, reduce your distress, and enjoy your time at home. Sometimes it’s impossible to detach 100% (we can’t stop people from calling and e-mailing), but as much as possible, try to end the workday both physically and mentally when you leave the office. Why let work occupy even more time then it already does?

2) Problem Solve

Now that you are spending less time venting and ruminating, you can use this time to problem solve. To help tackle a problem as objectively as possible, try these steps (bonus tip: actually write out your responses to help hold yourself accountable!):

  1. State the Problem- Be as specific as possible, so that you know exactly what problem you’re looking to solve. If the problem seems very large and overwhelming, try breaking it down further.

  2. Consider All Solutions- List as many solutions to the problem as you can.

  3. Evaluate the Costs and Benefits- Once you generate a list of solutions, consider both the costs and benefits of the solution (consider both the short and long-term). Quitting your job tomorrow may seem appealing in the present, but in the long-term, the consequences will likely outweigh the benefits.

  4. Create A Plan- Once you choose the solution that is best (the one with more benefits than consequences), develop an action plan. Think of the initial steps you can take to execute this solution, consider what resources or assistance you will need, determine potential timelines, and address potential pitfalls to implementing the solution.

  5. Assess and Re-evaluate- If the solution you chose didn’t yield the results that you were hoping for, it’s important to assess (and re-assess) your plan and re-evaluate! We can never be 100% certain that the solution we are going to choose is the “right” solution, so it’s important to shift course if necessary.

3) Try to Make a Bad Situation Better

Change can take time. Whether it is searching for a new job, starting your own endeavor, or trying to move within your company- it isn’t always clear when you will be able to give that two-week’s notice. In the meantime, it’s important to at least try to improve your current situation. Activity scheduling can help you to organize your week, and to make sure that you have some fun! Try these steps:

  1. Brainstorm- Generate a written list of activities that you find fun and that you enjoy doing. Try to think of a mixture of active, social, and independent activities. Examples include: meeting a friend for coffee, reading a book for pleasure, going to bed early, going to an exercise class, or (in my case) watching reality TV. These activities can be relatively simple, but may be things that you don’t typically prioritize.

  2. Plan- At the beginning of every week, sit down with a calendar and write down everything that is mandatory for the week. For example: work, appointments, and meetings.

  3. Activity Scheduling- For every day of the week, schedule at least one enjoyable activity (extra challenge- try to schedule a mix of active, independent, and social activities throughout the week). This way, no matter how busy your day becomes or how miserable you find work, there is at least one activity that you can look forward to that day.

  4. Commit-To help you commit to your plan, think of reasons that you wouldn’t follow through with the schedule you created. Then, proactively think of solutions to these roadblocks. We know that life happens, but the goal of activity scheduling is to treat these fun activities with as much importance as the other events on your calendar.

It can be rough being stuck in a job that you don’t like, and these strategies may not make all of your stress vanish. However, by focusing on how you're thinking about the situation, and what you’re doing to improve you day-to-day, you can make even the not so great days more tolerable and enjoyable.

BEW’s hitting the road and taking a brief hiatus from #wellnesswednesday (don’t worry, we’ll be back in September!). SO, that gives you time to catch up on our past blogs. You can find all of our blogs at While we’re out of the office, we’ll still be sharing tips and tricks on our Instagram @bewtraining- so make sure to follow along!

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