When you’re unhappy at work, the only thing that goes through your mind the moment your alarm goes off in the morning is, “Ugh…how will I ever survive this day?”
Maybe you’re in a job you know isn’t “right” for you but you don’t know what kind of job is right for you. Maybe you know exactly the kind of work you want to do but don’t have the skills necessary to pursue that career path. Maybe your interests and passions are outside of work and but they don’t pay your bills so you have to have a “day job.”
Whatever the case may be you need to figure out how to get through the days without making yourself (and the people around you) miserable.
There will always be times in your life when you don’t have a choice but to work at a job that’s less than ideal. The one thing you do have a choice about is how you think about your job.
I understand the last thing you want to hear right now is, “Turn that frown upside down!” or “Try and find the positive!” Don’t worry I’m not going to tell you to just “be happy” and everything will be OK.
I am going to tell you that what goes on inside your head is the only thing you have complete control over. While you’re figuring out what kind of work you want to do next or you’re gaining the skills needed to make a job transition, you’re going to have to also figure out how to stay motivated and positive at your present job.
Here are 3 tools you can implement today to make the workday easier and maybe even…enjoyable:
Start Your Day in the Right Mindset
When you’re getting ready in the morning, what are you saying to yourself about the day ahead? If you’re unhappy at work, most likely you’re feeling a mix of dread and anxiety. The problem is your negative thinking will just make your workday feel longer and more arduous.
What to do instead: When you’re on the train or in your car on your way to work, think about the day ahead only in positive terms. For example, “I care about my co-workers and will be pleasant and helpful when they approach me. I’ll complete that project and I’ll feel good about completing such a tough task. I’ll make sure to get back to that client and solve her problem for her. That’ll help her out and make me feel good.”
You may feel silly or even mock this “Miss Paula Pleasant” attitude but if you walk into work thinking, “I hate this place and everyone who works here,” then you’re sure to have a horrible day.
Viktor Frankl, a well-known psychiatrist who spent over 3 years in a concentration camp wrote the book Man’s Search for Meaning about his experiences wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
You decide how you see the world. If you decide to start your day feeling positive and relaxed, not only will your day be better, you’ll find all the aspects of your job that normally cause you frustration and anger, will feel more manageable.
Remember This is Temporary
You won’t be in this job for the rest of your life. There may be days when you feel like you’ll never get another job and you’ll be stuck at your current job forever, but you must remember you’re an employee at a company, not an indentured servant.
Feeling stuck and being stuck are too different things. Right now, you feel stuck but that doesn’t mean you’re truly stuck. Finding another job isn’t easy and neither is making the transition into a whole new career. Just because the alternative may be difficult, doesn’t mean your only choice is to stay at your present job and remain unhappy.
What to do instead: Continue to remind yourself, “I’m not stuck. I’m here now but I won’t be here forever.” If it feels too daunting to even think about being at this job for the next 3 months, take it month-by-month or even day-by-day.
Change the Way You Speak to Others About Your Job
Have you ever met someone you’ve been hearing about for years from a friend or a relative? Let’s say, your best friend has been telling you about her mother-in-law for years. All you’ve ever heard about this is how she’s this cruel, cold, manipulative woman. You finally meet her and you’re shocked to discover she’s not as bad as your friend described.
Now I want you to ask yourself, “Is this what I’ve been doing with my job?” Do the people in your life only hear about how awful work is and how terrible your boss treats you?
Not only does it matter how you think about your job, it also matters how you talk about your job to other people. Just like your friend’s mother-in-law, your job is neither all good nor all bad but you’ve been so focused on the negatives you can’t see any of the positives.
What to do instead: From now on, when a friend, family member or your partner asks you about work, you’re only allowed to talk about the positive aspects. If you can’t think of anything, talk about how great the snacks are in the kitchen or how the elevators are always fast.
Do it for a week and see how you feel. You may even discover that you’re job is not as bad as you think.
In the meantime, while you’re trying to figure out your next step, try and enjoy the job and all the things you like about it while you can. There has to be at least one or two bright spots in your day, maybe it’s grabbing coffee with your favorite co-worker or talking sports with the security guard. Try and enjoy and savor those moments because this will all change when you finally get that new job.