Welcome to another day in the 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Rat Race! What happened to the idea that you could find a dream job that would make you feel fulfilled? Currently, you find yourself in a career that you hate, but can’t seem to leave. Why are you still there? Perhaps the insurance benefits are good, the pay is decent, you can’t leave your poor coworkers, you don’t want to be perceived as a quitter, or you are just plain scared to do it. Whatever your reason may be, you still find yourself in a workplace prison of your own choosing.
I have been there! I found myself in a soul-sucking corporate job that I originally thought was my Dream Job. But I found myself dreading each day and counting down the minutes until I could clock out – only to do it all over again. I promised myself that I would stay at least 3 years, but by the end of month 6, I wanted to quit. However, I was determined to keep going because of the incredible growth potential and knowledge the position offered. In the end, I took the steps to successfully leave my job just a few weeks shy of 3 years!
So, how did I stay in that job for almost 3 years? Here are some pointers I followed to survive:
1.) Get up earlier in the morning
In the beginning, I would give myself ½ hour to get up, get dressed, make lunch, and grab breakfast. Each morning was a race against time, resulting in unnecessary stress and occasional speeding to work. Instead of getting up at 6:00, I started to get up at 5:30. This gave me one whole hour to get prepared for my day.
Following this tip will allow you to move at your own pace and be the master of your own morning schedule. Maybe sit down for breakfast or a cup of coffee. Stop rushing and do something you enjoy!
2.) Make your commute to work enjoyable
Previously, I would drive to work listening to talk radio. BIG MISTAKE! This did not mentally prepare me for a stressful day in the office. A coworker suggested that I start listening to podcasts. CHANGED MY LIFE! I had goals, interests, and hobbies separate from my career – so I started to indulge them by listening to podcasts on the way to work. I would walk into work with a sense of purpose because I was educating myself in a way my career never could.
On the days I did not listen to podcasts, I would listen to music. If I was stressed, I would listen to a genre that would calm my mind and help me relax. If I had a big event that day, I would listen to “pump up” music that would get me excited and inspired for the busy day ahead!
What are your interests? As a result of listening, my podcasts inspired me to monetize my hobbies and begin building my own dream.
3.) Bring some joy to the office
If you are miserable, chances are that some of your coworkers are too! I noticed several coworkers would bring snacks for everyone to enjoy. I absolutely loved that! So, I started doing it myself! I would bake a delicious cookie recipe, bring in some festive coffee creamer, buy breakfast sandwiches for everyone (or a select few), fill a bowl with Halloween Candy, bake some coffee cake, etc. When morale is low, a little can go a LONG way! Bringing joy to others can brighten your own day.
4.) Take some time for yourself during the day
I fell into the unhealthy habit of working during my lunch break. DON’T DO THIS! Getting out of the office is important for your mental and physical well-being. You will be more productive during the day if you take a break. Look at it as a time to reward yourself. Go for a walk, call a friend, read a book, listen to your podcast, sleep! Whatever you choose, make it all about yourself. Taking a break is one of the important steps to successfully relieve stress.
5.) Set personal goals with your coworkers
I love personal accomplishments, but I don’t like doing them alone. So, I used my co-workers as my accountability partners. We started drinking more water and less coffee, taking the stairs, walking on our lunchbreaks, etc. It was hard to find willing participants in the beginning, but once I found a few, they became an important part of my workplace support team.
6.) Come up with a positive mantra each day
As my job became increasingly stressful, I found myself with my face in my hands, whispering “I can’t do this, I can’t do this anymore!” This did nothing more than create additional anxiety and a pessimistic viewpoint. I decided to replace that with a goal that I had.
Perhaps you can whisper, “Giving Notice Day – November 25th” or say a goal “I’m going to take dance lessons” or “I am going to start a blog”. Find a sentence that will calm you down and give you hope for the future. (Mine was definitely my Giving Notice Day!).
7.) STOP over-performing
You may be surprised at this one. But keep reading…
I overworked myself past the point of no return – directly into work burnout. I worked extremely hard and received several promotions, but the new position did not come close to compensating for the loss of health and happiness. Several coworkers gave the company exactly what was expected and were also compensated. Without knowing it, I had become the “Yes man”.
STOP taking on more responsibility than you can bear. You owe your company the minimum you need to earn your salary. Always try to exceed expectations, but never at the expense of your own personal wellbeing. Evaluate your situation and make sure you do not have signs of work burnout.
8.) Focus on the skills you are developing
This step really helped me during my final year at my job. One day, I sat down and wrote out all the skills that I had acquired during my time there. I had acquired several licenses; mastered PowerPoint and Excel; learned several major company software; and gained a vast amount of knowledge in the industry…to name a few. I had gained confidence and exceeded my own expectations.
Occasionally, update your resume to ensure that you do not forget your developing skillset. Compare your before and after resumes and you will see how far you have come.
9.) Start a Countdown on your Calendar
This was my all-time favorite thing to do – especially when that countdown said “Final Day of Work”. Previously, it had said “Summer Vacation” or “Long Weekend at the Lake”. But it always gave me something to look forward to.
If you find yourself in an extremely difficult work situation, create something to look forward to every week. Buy yourself a special lunch, book a massage, or go out to an event with friends. This will give you something to look forward to in the short-run.
At the end of the day, you are the only one who knows how much you can take. Stay in touch with yourself and your long-term goals. Life is full of sacrifices, but you don’t have to sacrifice your happiness for a job that you hate. Make it a means to an end. If you have a goal to stay in your current position for a certain period of time, DO IT! Set a goal, fulfill it, and then pursue a new career dream.
If you have any questions about this article, just let us know in the comment section below! We’d be happy to help you out!