Ways To Survive Your Bad Job
Common career advice is to follow your dreams or your passion. The saying goes, “If you love what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life.” For starters, I think all of that is great advice and it should be heeded at every corner. Unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way. We are not always in a position to drop one job to go chase another dreamier job, and it is not always a great time to go flying head-first into something we are passionate about.
Life tends to get in the way. There could be a variety of reasons, but some common and good reasons are bills to pay, mouths to feed, and a roof to keep over one’s head. I want people to be happy and love their job, but quitting is not always an option. The result is that sometimes we end up in jobs that aren’t the right fit or the job doesn’t meet our expectations.
While not everyone can immediately quit their job and launch the next big thing, it is also not a reason to let a bad job, or a bad fitting job, get you down. Not every bad job is a bad job. It may just be that it is a bad job for you or that there are aspects of the job that you aren’t crazy about. On the other hand, there are some bad workplaces. Those workplaces could be very good jobs if the workplace, culture or otherwise, were different. If you find yourself in an ill-fitting job, consider these 4 strategies to find the silver lining in a bad job.
Focus on What You Can Control
When you are in a job that you don’t like, it really is easy to get in a rut. One of the best ways to get out of a rut is to focus on what you can control in the situation. Take time to understand what you dislike about your job and compare those with the things you can actually control.
For instance, working with a boss that makes work difficult is not fun. Say you do not get along with your boss or you don’t appreciate his or her leadership or management style. In this type of scenario, you cannot control what your boss does or how your boss acts. You may be able to influence some decisions, but you cannot do anything about his or her actions. On the other hand, you have 100% control over your actions and response to that person. You can choose to not take things personally or to go out of your way to improve your interactions with your boss.
The same goes for a company. You are not going to be able to control the organization’s policies or culture, but you can control how you respond. The key here is to not spend energy worrying yourself over things that are outside of your control.
Use the Opportunity to Grow Through Stretch Opportunities
If you find yourself in a job that you don’t feel is quite suited to you, you probably have two options. You can let the fact that you’re not crazy about the job affect your performance, or you could recognize and rise to the challenge in front of you. Even if the job is not necessarily stimulating, you can work to ensure you reach a level of expertise and look for ways to improve processes. Once you are able to do that in many jobs, other doors will open and you can begin to stretch yourself outside of your normal duties. Two sure-fire ways to get on the good side of management are 1. Be good at your job, and 2. Look for ways to make positive contributions to the organization. These positive contributions can be through process improvements or volunteering to take on different assignments. Even if your job isn’t a great fit, it may be a temporary stop on the way to an even better job.
Leave Work at Work
Even a job you love can be stressful and overwhelming at times. If you find yourself in a job that you’re not crazy about, one of the things you can do is leave work at work. This is hard for a lot of over-achievers. They are accustomed to work being a major priority and part of their identity. Even if they are doing a job they dislike, they seem to only have one speed and have a tendency to take their work home with them, both literally and figuratively. Sometimes it is best to prioritize other parts of life in front of work and a bad job may be the perfect opportunity.
Try to Better Understand What Will Make You Happy at Work
You may have accepted this job thinking it was your dream job, or maybe you were in a position to take a chance on a position you weren’t sure about. Either way, landing in a bad job means you now have a better perspective on what will make you happy at work. This job may show you that it wasn’t that you didn’t like your old job, but that you were just burned out. You may think back fondly on a previous role or set of responsibilities, but when you were in that role you were unhappy.
As you gain career experiences and work in different places, you have the advantage to zero in on things that you will enjoy at work. By having this increased understanding, when your next opportunity does roll around, you will be better prepared to determine whether it is going to be a good fit or not. After all, we can spend up to a third of our adult lives working. It only makes sense that there are going to be some rough patches along the way. How we respond to those, finding as many good takeaways and making sure we keep an eye out for the silver lining, can help us grow personally and professionally.