Feeling forced to work in a job you hate is one of the biggest sources of job stress. It is critical to develop a game plan as early as possible. Many people promise themselves to stick it out, but eventually sabotage themselves because they hope they won’t have to.
In my younger years, I held many jobs I hated. I moved on but I could have made those moves more easily and certainly more peaceably.
Over the years, I’ve talked to hundreds of other people who hated their jobs. Some found me through my website on career change. Some worked with me to find their side hustle.
Some people never escaped. Others moved on to careers that brought joy and fulfillment.
What made the difference?
(1) People who moved to satisfying careers learned to shift their mindset.
Instead of feeling frustrated and angry, they focused instead on what they wanted to feel, have, and be.
One career changer kept getting frustrated with her team leader. “Why does he call meetings at the last minute?” she exclaimed. “Why doesn’t he get organized?”
One day she decided to stop asking those questions. Nobody had answers anyway. Instead, she began to recite a new mantra: “I want a work environment where we get at least a day to prepare for important meetings.”
She practiced responding professionally but firmly to her team leader’s demands. “The data isn’t here for the report you’re going to need at the meeting.”
To her surprise, her team leader’s behavior changed. That often happens when you’ve prepared a response in advance. She continued to look for a new job, but she felt more energized and less frantic.
(2) Clients are often shocked when I suggest, “Cut back on your efforts without being unethical or risking your job.”
After they recover from the initial shock, they get creative. One of my own former colleagues had developed a policy for his workplace.
“When I get asked to do something that will take time, such as a change in the format of a report, I wait. Sometimes nothing happens. If it’s really important, they will ask me a second or even third time.”
Obviously, this policy won’t work everywhere. But my colleague found he could stop doing a lot of things and no one would ever notice.
And often you’ll find you get to stop resenting the time you put into your job because you’re actually finding more time to enjoy your life.
(3) People get jobs they love by preparing for them while they work in jobs they hate.
Begin to build your resume, even if it means doing extra things in the short term. One former client volunteered to run a newsletter for her group.- a job nobody else wanted. She learned how to use software to design the newsletter and add graphics.
She began to offer skills through online job boards and built up her portfolio of writing. When she was ready to move, she used her new skills to open doors.
You can also use your free time to build your resume. Begin planning your side hustle. Take courses. Volunteer for roles that build your skills.
Just make sure you’re using the time to build skills that will contribute to your career. Serve on boards and committees of nonprofit organizations. Start your side hustle as a business, not as a driver.
(3) When I asked people what made them succeed in their side hustles, I expected them to say things like “built a website.” Instead, every single one said, “I listened to my intuition.”
When you start a new venture, some well-meaning friends will say, “You’d better hang in there. Good jobs are hard to find.”
Others, equally well-meaning, will urge you to resign even before you have another job lined up.
You lose energy listening to this conflicting advice as you struggle to make your own decisions. Look for ways to tune into your intuition, such as meditation, quiet time or any activity that gets you into a different mental and physical space
(5) Everyone who makes a successful career change finds a trusted confidante who won’t interfere with their current job. You could hire a consultant. But you could also find friends or low-cost groups for support.
Just a warning: Airing your frustration with families can strain your relationship. I’ve had more than one client call for a consultation because the spouse couldn’t take any more discussion and it was cheaper than getting a divorce.
When I held corporate jobs, I didn’t appreciate the need to keep a game face when talking to colleagues or potential colleagues. These associates could become potential referrals and even leads to new jobs. Being positive keeps you confident and strong.
Overall, my recommendation is to use your current job as a vehicle for change. I created a whole course on The Great Career Escape – available on Udemy at a low price.