Unhappy at your job but not ready to quit?
It’s hard to cope when you’re unhappy at your job but you either can’t or don’t want to quit. Maybe it’s become boring and tedious, your co-workers are “unbearable” or perhaps you’ve got a boss that second-guesses everything you do. Whatever the reason, even if you can’t leave right now, there are still some things you can do to help you survive a difficult situation.
What’s Really Bothering You?
Therapist Melody Wilding, LMSW, has done research in “happiness” at Rutgers University, teaches Human Behavior at CUNY and writes about psychology for a number of national magazines. She shares some suggestions for figuring out what’s really at the root of your misery and what you can do to get through it.
The first step is to pinpoint what you’re really unhappy about. For a period of time (a week, a month….) take stock of all your responsibilities and activities at work and determine how you feel about each one. This will help you identify the specific tasks and/or people that are causing your dissatisfaction.
Once you do that, you can set some boundaries. You might need to clarify your available working hours or delegate some of your workload, if possible. It may also mean saying “no” to covering a shift or taking over a co-worker’s responsibilities.
Make an effort to stop venting or complaining about work for a week. You’ll get some distance from your situation and you can consider where else you could be focusing your energy. You might decide there’s one or two things you do enjoy at work and you can begin expanding those skills or taking classes to learn more. Taking steps to build up your resume and learn something new will make it easier to move on when the time comes.
How to Cope
Ed Herzog is a life coach whose mission is to help people discover an authentic career. Until you can make a move, he has some suggestions for coping with your current situation.
- Change what you can: You may not be able to quit, but can you ask for different duties? Can you be on another team? What can you do to be proactive and improve your daily responsibilities?
- Stop telling yourself how miserable you are: Remind yourself that this is only temporary and you’re working toward a better choice. Emphasize whatever is positive in your day.
- Change your perspective: Try thinking about people who don’t have any job. Even though your situation isn’t ideal, it could be far worse.
- Focus on what you like: If your co-workers are helpful and fun or you have a specific task you enjoy, make the most of that to get through your day.
- Find value outside the job: Because hospitality is a 24/7 job, maybe you get time off during the week that gives you some freedom to do other things… try to appreciate that you’re earning money and gaining experience that will allow you to pursue another option in the near future.
- Concentrate on the rest of your life: Build up your friendships, spend time with family, explore a new hobby, get outdoors and enjoy the other aspects of your life.
How to Move On
Lolly Daskal is a leadership development and CEO Coach and consultant, and founder of Lead from Within. She suggests you might try moving to a different job with different duties at your current place of work. Hotels and restaurants offer a variety of tasks and departments (or even multiple locations) that you can turn to. That way, you don’t give up your paycheck, but you try something fresh and learn something new.
If you definitely want to change your path, consider doing some volunteer work to make some new contacts, learn a new skill or talk to a career counselor to help you find something that better matches your interests. In the meantime, set some goals around the steps you need to take to move on to a different job and ask for support from friends or family to keep you on track.
If possible, it might help you to move on if you reduce your hours. You may need to “pare down” a few things in your life, but you’ll realize you can survive on less money. You’ll feel more energized, ready to mix with people outside your workplace and make some new contacts. Start slowly… maybe reduce your hours by just a half day per week and increase it if and when you can.
Start working on an “escape plan.” Save some money each month, figure out what you’d like to do next (start learning what you need to know) and set a date for making your move. By then, you’ll have the confidence, additional experience, new skills and the motivation that comes from knowing the end is in sight.
Let’s face it. No one wants to be stuck in a job they dread. Until you can make a change, take time to treat yourself to something that fills you up. Exercise, hobbies, hiking, meeting with friends… whatever makes you feel refreshed and energized. It will be your saving grace until you can make your move.
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