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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

3 Ways Smart People Sabotage Themselves When They're Unhappy at Work

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There are plenty of things you could do to cope when you hate your job. You could vent. You could try to find a solution. Or, you could throw yourself into a job search because you can’t stomach the idea of going back for one more day. All three of those moves are reasonable.

But what you can’t do is make the following three mistakes because they’ll only hurt your reputation and career. And that’s not good for you at all.

1. You Can’t Stop Caring

OK, that’s not entirely fair. I’m not telling you to find a way to be passionate about a gig that you just can’t stand. But you can’t flaunt your feelings in a way that’s disrespectful to everyone around you. For example, just because you’re not pumped to start your day doesn’t make it OK to casually stroll into work 30 minutes late with your headphones blasting while everyone else is trying to work.

Nor is it acceptable to completely mail it in because you couldn’t care less if a project or task even gets done. This behavior doesn’t just affect your co-workers, but eventually you, too.

Remember: The people sitting in that room are your future references and you want to leave this job on the most positive note possible. Not to mention, it’s probably not their fault that you’re no longer fulfilled, so taking it out on them makes you a crappy co-worker (and if it is their fault, consider this great practice in dealing with challenging people).

2. You Can’t Avoid Looking for a New Job

There’s probably at least a little part of you who thinks that no matter how bad your job is, you’re just way too tired to go home after a long day of work and start looking for something new. And I get it. Doing something you don’t enjoy is exhausting. The problem is that nobody’s going to do this for you, so you’re going to be stuck at your job indefinitely if you constantly avoid it.

Want to make the whole thing easier to swallow? Block out time for searching on your calendar for an hour here and there throughout the week. You’ll quickly notice that having a regularly scheduled block (or blocks) of time set aside will not only make you hate job searching less, but you’ll maybe look forward to cranking out a few applications in the time you’ve set aside for yourself. Just one more thing you can check off your to-do list.

3. You Can’t Keep it to Yourself

I know you might be thinking, “I’m being a good trooper. Why should anyone know how much I can’t stand this place?” Your resilience is admirable, but the truth is that at some point, you’ll bottle up a lot of frustration to the point where you take it out on someone (or something) in an incredibly unproductive way.

Not only that, but there’s really nothing to gain from trying to figure it all out yourself. While you might think that your closest friends and family appreciate the fact that you’re not “bothering” them about what’s happening at work, the truth is that they probably have a feeling that things aren’t awesome right now anyway. So go ahead and trust them with what you’re thinking. And don’t worry—if they run out of things to say to make you feel better or get sick of hearing you complain, they’ll let you know.

As a band I still love once sang: Work sucks, I know. I want nothing more than for you to find something that you love to do for money, and I completely understand your predicament. It might be hard to drag yourself to the office to do that thing you hate to do, but you that doesn’t give you free reign to start behaving unprofessionally on the job. You’re better than that and you owe it to future you to step it up a notch.