5 tips for survival when you’re in a job that is just not right for you.

This article is authored by Nina Perry, Career Coach and Director of Careerdiem, part of the Career Money Life Supplier Community.

I have a confession to make.

Once I was so bored with my job, I used to go into the toilet and watch the second hand of my watch tick past. For 5 minutes.

Not the best way to spend your time I know, but desperate times called for desperate measures.

The growing dread I would feel from Sunday lunchtime, knowing that Monday was drawing closer was not fun. I was looking for other work, but right at that moment I was stuck. Stuck in a job because I (a) needed the money, (b) couldn’t relocate to a place that had a better job market (c) was still relatively new in the position and needed some tenure, or ‘time in the seat’ so to speak.

Over time, I got a bit savvier about how to manage my time and disillusionment, so I didn’t clock more hours in the toilet cubicle, and (on the surface) appear to be the engaged employee that I needed to be.

So, what did I learn during this time? Without further a-do here are:

My top 5 tips on how to survive in a job that is not right until you move into one you like:

  1. Distract yourself on a Sunday.

That sick feeling you have in the pit of your stomach from 12 noon on a Sunday is going to do your head in after a while. Organising a distracting activity for Sunday afternoons is a must. Here are some things I can think of:

  • Go to a (really long) movie
  • Organise a tennis tournament with your mates
  • Visit a museum
  • Catch up with friends for ice-cream
  • Meditate in a beautiful park
  • Go for a hike
  • Play with your dog
  • Join a club of your favourite hobby
  • Visit the beach
  • Lose yourself in a fiction book
  • Visit a relative (but don’t speak about work)
  • Do all the above back-to-back. This will surely keep you distracted

2. Draw up a daily to-do list

Because I was not enjoying my work, when I sat down at my desk my motivation would slip through the floor. To counteract this, I would try to set myself a goal for every work day. It could be a big goal, or sometimes it would be just one small accomplishment. This helped, because it got my thoughts out of the whinge cycle and focused on something that would move me forward. Draw up a Monday morning list.

3. Find positive people to hang around.

They are in every workplace, the whiney Winona, the sad Sally, the angry Angela and the grey-day Glenda. We’ve all worked with them. The trouble is, if you are not feeling particularly positive or happy at work, hanging around these types will only make you sink to lower lows. If you can’t find anyone in your workplace that is focusing on the good, you need to do this on your own, and for yourself. I used to take a walk at lunchtime and listen to a positive podcast. Or I would look up a positive quote, write it on a post-it and stick it around my desk.

4. Make an exit plan and review it weekly (or daily if you need to).

You know that you need to get out of your current situation, but the timing is just not right. It’s time to work up your exit strategy. I would think up my ideal work situation and make detail notes about what the work setting, activities, people around me, amount of money this was made up of. I created a vision board (because research suggests visualisation works) and looked at it daily. I broke the big vision down into 5-year, 2-year, 1-year, monthly and weekly goals and I started chipping away at these.

5. Take care of yourself outside of work.

Repeat after me, You. Are. Not. Going. To. Be. Stuck. In. This. Job. Forever. The very fact that you have an exit plan tells me that you are going to be moving on. Not straight away, but it will happen.

So, for the sake of your current and future self, I would highly recommend looking after your physical self. I decided to train for a long run (even though I wasn’t a runner) and I signed up for some yoga classes. I gave up drinking wine and really watched my diet. I did this to look after myself, but also to try and counteract the exhausted feeling I experienced because I was drained by work. A big bonus on the side was I had something else to think about (e.g a running goal) rather than just work.

So, there are my top 5 tips. Tell me this, am I the only one who has felt this way at work, or have you gone through something similar? Maybe I am the only toilet cubicle stayer? What ways did you find helpful to cope with the 9-5? I would love to hear your tips.

If you would like some help with any of the tips mentioned, or you would like to work on your career, I would love to help. You can read more about my experience and send me an enquiry here. Let’s work together!

Here’s to a work day that doesn’t make you want to stick a sharp tool in your eye!

Career Money Life offers a wide range of career services to help you land on your feet. Book a demo now or contact us to learn more about our individualised Career Transition Programs.

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