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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

4 Valuable Lessons You Learn From Working a Job You Hate

Once upon a time, I worked at a company that made me absolutely miserable. I cried every Sunday evening, because the dread of Monday approaching was almost too much to bear. I needed to set my alarm clock across my bedroom to make sure that I could actually drag myself out of bed. I spent my days feeling deflated and disheartened.

Not exactly the fairytale-style opening you were hoping for, right?

But—let’s face it—when you hate your job, life is far from a fairytale. In fact, it can be downright dismal. Believe me, I’ve been there.

However, while that misery-inducing gig might be terrible, it’s far from pointless. There are quite a few valuable things you can learn from toughing it out in a position that makes you cringe, sigh, and cry.

Not convinced? Here are four lessons you can take away from working in a position you absolutely hate.

1. Always Look on the Bright Side

Spoiler alert: Life isn’t all sunshine, rainbows, unicorns, and puppies. Even when you manage to escape that hated position, you’re still going to have to deal with circumstances and scenarios that are less than ideal—often on a frequent basis, unfortunately. That’s just life.

Luckily, you’ll become pretty well practiced in the art of looking on the bright side. After all, what could be a greater test of your positivity than sticking it out in a job you loathe? Whether it’s the delicious and free catered lunches or that project that actually seems tolerable, you’re learning how to tune out the cons and place more emphasis on the pros.

Trust me—that ability to avoid letting negativity consume you in favor of making the most of the cards you’re dealt is a skill that will benefit you through the rest of your career.

2. Commitment Is Key

Big changes don’t happen overnight—this much you know. And, having to head into the office day in and day out when you’re desperately eager for something better requires a hefty dose of patience and commitment.

Yes, you very well might be working on getting yourself a job that you’ll actually enjoy. But, the world doesn’t work on your timeline, and you’ll likely need to sit tight and hold steadfast until a greater opportunity lands in your lap. Patience is a virtue, after all.

So, the fact that you can manage to show up and crank out quality work—even though you feel like you’d quite literally rather do anything else? Well, that’s a great lesson in commitment and dedication—two qualities that virtually any employer will admire and applaud.

3. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

You know how when you’re already in a bad mood, even the smallest, most minuscule things manage to wiggle their way under your skin and drive you positively crazy? Those little things that you’d normally let just slide off your back end up pushing you to the absolute brink.

There’s no doubt that this same philosophy applies when you hate your job. That co-worker who won’t stop smacking her gum or your company’s ancient software—they’re all just one more reason you should hate this terrible employer and position of yours.

But, by now you know better than to lose your cool over those minor annoyances—it only serves to make you look bad. So, as nutty as it might make you, remember that this dreadful experience is teaching you a valuable lesson in taking a deep breath and letting things go. Hey, a little more oil in your feathers is never a bad thing.

4. There’s Value in Every Experience

There are likely a lot of things you’re not getting out of that loathsome job. Maybe that’s fair pay, a supportive team, or useful and transferable skills. But, you can bet that there’s at least one key thing that dreaded position is giving you: The knowledge of what you absolutely don’t want in your next gig.

I know, that information likely isn’t as enjoyable as a hefty paycheck or amazing co-workers. But, don’t sell it short! Sometimes identifying what you don’t want can be even more valuable and helpful than determining what you do want.

So, use that knowledge to make choices as you move forward in your career. At least you know one thing: It’ll help you avoid winding up in that same situation again.

Unfortunately, most of us have had to cope with those terrible jobs that truly put us to the test. And, while putting up with a gig you hate isn’t fun, that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable.

In fact, there are several important lessons you can learn from your sigh-worthy position. So, take note, put them to good use, and you’re sure to live (or, rather, work) happily ever after. There—now that’s a fairytale ending you can live with.

Photo of unhappy worker courtesy of Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images.