How to Survive a Job You Hate

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Getting a job is a lot like dating. You may have an idea of what kind of partner (company) you’d like to end up with, and fantasize about how amazing the union (employment) will be like. But as is the case with most relationships (jobs), it’s a lot of trial and error. There’s no such thing as an instant happily ever after. And you’re guaranteed to settle once in a while for something that may not be the best fit for you.

If your job provides money and purpose (likely, both), you may reason that it’s worth the anxiety, drama, or excuse to binge-eat donuts. In any case, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the game—whether you’re a first time intern, newly full time employee, or a seasoned pro; it’s always going to be tough feeling “stuck” in a job that doesn’t fulfill you.

At FindSpark’s 6-year anniversary bash, our keynotes offered sound bites on finding inspiration, confidence, and silver linings. With their advice (see below), and lots of hard work and hope, you’ll get pass this tough period in your life. Here’s what you can do to make the most out of a crappy job, before you find your perfect match.

Note the positives (no, seriously – write them down)

If you can’t stand your job, you probably have a long list of frustrations. Maybe you don’t get mesh well with your co-workers, have a terrible commute, or just genuinely hate the position itself.

To counteract the negatives, start a positivity journal to keep track of all the good things in your day. It can be as simple as getting positive feedback from your supervisor on a tough project, or getting free snacks at an office happy hour. By identifying and writing down these positives, it’ll help you find the bright side no matter what kind of day (work-wise and life-wise) you’re having.

Keep track of your accomplishments

“Find what you enjoy in your job right now, and then find your passion.” – Justin Mahmud, Macy’s

If you’re learning new software, tackling tricky accounts, or even just making it a point to offer your input in a big meeting — these are small but substantial victories! When it comes to moving on (more on that in a minute), you need to make sure that you’re not holding on to bad baggage. That’ll just make it harder to move forward.

Instead, acknowledge all the ways you’ve grown from the experience — that way, when you interview for something better, you’ll be prepared to transfer your skills into your new position, not your resentment towards your old one.

Remind yourself that it’s temporary

The same way you feel tied to a significant other, is how you may feel attached to a certain position or organization. You want to make it work likely because you’re dependent on it in some respect – especially financially. But this isn’t a weight that you’ll have to carry forever. Remember that, and it’ll feel less like you’re trapped in a never-ending tunnel.

Start saving

Life is unpredictable, company structures change, and you never want to be stranded on an island of “Oh, crap” with no means to support yourself. Also, if you decide to quit before you have another job lined up, you want to have a cushion for surviving until you’re able to make decent income.

Map out your short term and long term goals

“Stop stopping yourself from doing the things you want to do.” – CEO & Founder Emily Miethner, FindSpark

Sure, maybe you’ve been trying to move on to something better, by fixing your appearance (online) and making it known that, you know, you’re available. But in the interest of not looking like a serial dater (job-hopper), you have to figure out what you actually want, before you take the steps to get pursue it.

Our advice? Start a side hustle, enlist a mentor, do your research. You can’t control the future, but you can set yourself up for success with the right game plan and attitude.

Have a support system

Sure, sweets will always be there to ease the pain, but friends are a way healthier alternative to addressing your feelings (rather than eating them). They’ll take your mind off of work when you’re off the clock, helping you to de-stress, regroup, and be ready to hit the ground running once you’re clocked in again.

Consider therapy

“Being able to tap into yourself is really going to help everyone in the community around you.” – Diane Dragan, Condé Nast

If you’re spending 25-40+ hours in a toxic environment (or in a role that drains your soul just thinking about it), it’s going to affect your mental health. There’s only so much that venting to friends and family can do, so get professional help. A therapist can provide many things: comfort, helpful coping strategies, and additional resources that will help you tackle the challenges in your life — professional, and personal as well.

Be efficient – but strategic – in your job search

You can’t change something until you accept it. You’ve accepted that you hate your job, so now it’s time to change the course of your career. Now that you’ve figured out what you truly love to do, search and apply for jobs that allow you to productively utilize your passions.

Next, set a weekly goal of how many jobs to apply to each week, start reaching out to references for recommendations, and enlist anyone in your growing network to get you through as many open doors as possible.

Get out and meet new people

“Always be open to new opportunities.” – Amanda Gordon, Viacom

You’re not a Sims character. There’s no one controlling your life but you. So take advantage of any and every opportunity to network, make new connections, and take initiative in your career. We’ve got the perfect event for you here.

Most importantly, trust that if you work hard, everything will work out

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Don’t give up, and stay hungry (for the sake of your career, not your stomach).

What are you doing to landing a new gig? How has the community helped you stay positive during a hard time or tough experience? Share in the comments!

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