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10 Tips for Riding Out a Job You Hate

Are you miserable at work? There is no sin in looking for greener pastures, but you should never quit without a new position lined up. To protect your most important asset – your professional skills and experience – bide your time at a dead-end job, or with an unbearable boss, with these ten tips.

Resigning without a new job won’t just cost you lost wages, but may force a salary cut, affecting your lifelong earnings. That’s why it is crucial to stay at work until you find a better job, no matter how unhappy you are.

Seem impossible? Don’t despair. Here are ways to make it easier to ride out a miserable job.

1. Start Searching – There’s nothing wrong with starting to look for a new job, even if you are months, or years, away from switching. Looking for a new position will boost your spirits because you will start to feel less trapped in your current spot. Just be cautious of job-searching on the clock: you don’t want to give your employer any reason to make your life more miserable!

2. Focus on Tasks – Rather than get caught up with workplace politics and overarching pressures that stress you out, develop laser-like focus on daily tasks. Give your all to making your daily phone calls, writing your reports, or contributing in meetings, and you will spend less time thinking about being miserable.

3. Preempt Criticism – If you are miserable at work because your boss is always on your back, figure out what causes the nagging and nip it in the bud. Are you being chided for tardiness? Do whatever it takes to arrive 15 minutes early each day. Does your manager think you’re slacking? Send your boss daily emails explaining what you worked on.

4. Avoid Bitching – When you are miserable, it’s easy to do nothing but complain. And at work, you can usually find plenty of sympathetic ears. But complaining will only make you feel worse, and can be dangerous if you are overheard or make a pessimistic quip to the wrong ambitious intern. And complaining isn’t attractive, so your partner or friends may resent it. When things are bad, instead of bitching, just avoid talking about work at all.

5. Make Friends – Studies have proven having friends in the workplace is one of the top predictors of job satisfaction. Try having lunch in the break room rather than alone at your desk, or attending an after-work social event that you might ordinarily skip.

6. Ask for New Challenges – Sometimes misery at work comes from boredom. If your relationship with your manager is OK, ask to take on new projects, even if they are outside your job description. Breaking up your routine can shed new light on your old position and perhaps give you the boost you need to endure for another few months or a year.

7. Don’t Tolerate Inappropriate – or Illegal – Treatment
– Unfortunately, there are a lot of “unprofessional professionals” out there. If you are being mistreated or harassed by a manager or coworker in any way, don’t stand for it. Report the behavior to HR, your manager (if it involves a coworker), or your boss’ boss (if it involves a manager). If your situation involves sexual harassment or discrimination, don’t be afraid to talk to a lawyer.

8. Pursue Your Passion – Most of us aren’t so fortunate to be able to pursue our passions at work. It is important, however, to make time outside of work for the activities we love. If you find you are simply suffering through work and going home to bad TV every night, work up the energy to pursue something you love on a nightly basis.

9. Leave It Behind – Even if you can’t stop whining about work in the lunchroom, do not take your workplace worries home. You will last far longer in an unhappy position if you can check your concerns at the door and still find pleasure in your evening and weekend activities. Once you let your work stress permeate the other areas of your life, you’ll be far less likely to hang on at work until you find something new.

10. Evaluate Your Goals – When you go looking for your new position, it is vital to make sure you don’t end up in yet another job you hate. Ask yourself: Why did I take this current job? What did I expect from this job that I’m not getting? Were my expectations realistic or is there something particularly bad about this position? Would I be happy doing this kind of work but with a different coworker/manager/salary?

Being unhappy at work can make you miserable, but you don’t have to suffer forever. Hopefully these tips will help make your job more bearable as you seek out a new position. Are you biding your time at a job you dislike? How do you cope?

Next Monday, check out the career topic for “The Right and Wrong Ways to Network” Need a reminder? Subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Published or updated on March 17, 2008

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


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