How to Survive a Dissatisfying Job

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.
William Shakespeare

I have had a few jobs in my life and the one thing I have learned in process of having different jobs is that the bad jobs really helped me narrow down what I really didn’t wanted to be doing.  

If you’re like most people you probably need to work to bring in some sort of income.  Most people work, on average about 40% of their waking hours, if not more.  I learned early on that my overall quality of life and happiness is affected by whether or not I enjoy what I do for a living. 

There are always aspects of any job that people find dissatisfying.  But what do you do when you feel you can’t tolerate it any longer?  

Here are some strategies to help overcome dissatisfying work.

Start with a self search...

Determine why your job is dissatisfying.  Ask yourself: Is because you are under employed and not using your skills you would like?  Is it because your organization is poorly run or has poor management?  Ask yourself, if you had the power to create any job that you would naturally thrive in, what would your dream work be?  

Don’t automatically jump to narrowing it down to a job title.  Think about what qualities you want in a job.  Do you want to be working alone or with others?  Do you want people reporting to you or do you want to work alone?  Do you want to be paid by commission for performance or a salary?  Do you like long projects or no projects?  The list goes on!  

Go wild and explore every aspect until you’ve narrowed down at least 15 or more qualities that would exist in a perfect job for you.

Change your perspective or change your job?...

Once you’ve done that, determine if it is a matter of you changing your perspective of your current job or if you really should be preparing yourself to exit to find the work qualities you want.  

Write down how you feel about your job.  Record good days and not so good ones.  Do this for at least a month or longer.  You may find you have different insights that will help you figure out what direction you should take to improve your situation.

Deciding to change your perspective and improve your situation…

If you decide that you have it good in your current job, then stay at your job but continue to journal.  Don’t hesitate however to make things more interesting for yourself.  

For example, if you were feeling bored at work, try getting more involved in leadership roles at work to make things more interesting. Or if leadership isn’t your thing,  join a committee and become more active.  

If your work is making your stressed, you may want to consider different outlets for relaxation like taking walks on your break, exercising after work, joining a club or yoga studio or learning meditation techniques.

If you aren’t feeling challenged enough at work, you may want to consider doing things outside of work that stretch your mental capacity like taking a course or volunteering in the community that uses the abilities you would like to use; like becoming treasurer or event organizer for an organization or a church, or taking up a martial art that requires quick thinking and strategy.

Deciding to change your job...

If you decide you do need to change your job, don’t fret!  That’s pretty exciting too.  Good for you for making a decision!  Now, you have some preparation and research to do.  You may be fortunate enough that you can stay in your organization and change jobs but don’t assume that your organization will be willing to change your job for you.  You will have to do some leg work.  Although, some organizations are very adaptable in offering things like flex work and telecommuting.  Look into these programs through your human resources department. 

Keep it to yourself…for now...

If the direction you would like to take eventually involves you leaving your job, keep it to yourself and continue doing your best work, but begin formulating your plan of action.  This is for a number of reasons: In case it takes longer than you planned to create your new opportunity, you don’t want your superiors considering you to be a disloyal employee.  Plus, you never know.  What if the job you are looking for surfaces at your current place of employment?  Also, you don’t ever want to burn bridges.  It’s a small world and chances are, you will run into someone again, somewhere.  They may also be great for networking to find other opportunities.

Make it your part-time job to start your plan...

Based on what you determined was lacking in your job and where you want to be, start filling in the gap and begin self-educating.  Create steps that you need to take on what you need to do to achieve your goal of changing jobs.  For example, start looking for postings in the field of work you want.  Start talking to people in that industries to create contacts that might be able to tell you about vacancies.  Make it a point to send out at least 1 - 3 custom resume and cover letters every day.

Try researching and reading the information you need...

You can do some of the best self study by using career services at local government agencies or reading books and blogs on careers at the library or on the internet.  Many career-direction books have workbooks built into them that provide a nice framework on what steps to think about next. 

If your plan is to start your own business.  Start creating business contacts, research your demographic, start building your website.  Begin drafting your business plan.

Keep in mind that these steps may change as you work through them.  That’s ok! 

At least you have started.  Sometimes some steps in a plan work out differently than you had planned and end up going in a much better direction than you had intended.  The point is you need to take action and begin. 

Don’t overspend...

A word of caution, don’t go spending a ton of money on expensive business cards and clothes until you are closer to needing them.  Unnecessarily creating expenses for yourself may create more stress and put you in a state of desperation.  And we don’t want to be desperate because desperate people make decisions for the wrong reasons.

Adopt the mindset of gratitude…

and don’t slip into self wallowing thoughts.  You were fortunate to come to realize that you need to explore a new avenue in your career.  And now you can!  Plus, you’ve got the best of both worlds in that you still have income and a job.  So, empower yourself by taking the reigns on your career and take the next steps.

Be of service...

Once you have achieved your goal of being satisfied in your job or business, be grateful and pay it forward by providing great service to the people you come into contact with.  Give back to the organizations that helped you.  Don’t forget that you are constantly evolving.  This may evolve into other new experiences and it may not be the last time that you must go through this process, but celebrate your progress every step of the way.

Drop me a comment or note.  I'd love to hear about your own career journey!


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