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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

How to Deal: Your Job Sucks

Everyone’s had a bad day at the office. You know, the kind of day when emails are filling your inbox faster than you can blink, your boss is making your blood pressure steadily climb, and you haven’t done one thing that you actually enjoy besides eat your lunch. But what if that kind of day becomes every day? What if your job just downright sucks?

Unfortunately, that scenario is all too common. It seems rare for a graduating senior to “fall into” her dream job, or even for someone with an established career path to quickly find the next perfect opportunity. Sometimes, a job isn’t a rung on your career ladder but just a job, taken out of the basic necessity to pay the bills. And while that may been fine for a while, when your average day is a bad day, it can become pretty hard to get out of bed every morning.

I’ve been there. I’ve had fights with the copy machine, thrown myself on the floor after a crucial shipment didn’t make it to a conference on time, and ultimately felt like my entire life was amounting to a much less amusing version of Office Space. If your 9-to-5 (or 8-to-8—because, honestly, who only works eight hours a day anymore?) is just as brutal, here’s a few tips I’ve learned for how to deal.

1. Decide Whether it’s Worth Sticking Out

Think about whether your workday blues might simply be the result of being low-woman on the corporate totem pole. A quick test: take a look at your supervisor’s work. Does it bore you to tears, too? If the answer is no, and you think you could eventually move into a more interesting role, then maybe it’s worth it to stick it out and focus your energy on getting promoted at your current company.

But if the answer is yes? Then yep, it’s really time to get out of there.

2. Be Proactive

If you find your job completely uninteresting and you don’t foresee it improving, start making some aggressive moves. Don’t just start researching new opportunities online—go to networking events and industry meetings, and make sure your friends and family know that you’re looking. There’s no shame in admitting that you aren’t happy with where you are. On the contrary, your loved ones will likely admire you for taking a bold step in a new direction.

3. Consider the Bright Side

And in the meantime? Try to take a positive outlook—no matter how difficult that may be. Is your job boring? Consider the down time an opportunity to adopt a new hobby or read that book you’ve always meant to pick up (after work, of course). Is your job physically exhausting? Think about how nice it is not to have to sit at a desk all day, and how much money you’re saving on a gym membership. If you can extract some—any!—positive from the negative, you may find it easier to deal until you can more permanently change your employment outlook.

4. Remember That This Isn’t Permanent

Sometimes in the repetitive routine of the workday, it’s difficult to remember how often things are constantly changing in your life. Even if it’s making you utterly miserable, remember that this is just one job in your long career path ahead. Think of it as a temporary stepping-stone to your next opportunity, rather than a cubicle that will trap you for the rest of your days.

Photo courtesy of Pat Pilon.

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