Designed by Dave Tappy for the Noun Project

Designed by Dave Tappy for the Noun Project

Productivity blogs and self-help books everywhere have given us the classic trope of a beaten-down-worker quitting their job in a blaze of glory and living happily after — but real life is much more complicated than that. Maybe you hate your job, maybe you just kind of dislike it. Or it may be a “placeholder” job while you finish school, look for a new one, or get a side project or start-up off the ground. Either way, as Alina Tugend in the New York Times shows us, there are things you can do to make it better, worth your time, or to help you get out wisely.

First, Tugend advises, try to figure out the reasons behind your dissatisfaction by making a list of what you don’t like — but don’t just say “everything,” go into specifics.

“If you hate your boss, write down the things you hate about her,” Ms. Rosenberg said. Do you like what you do, but dislike your colleagues or boss, or do you despise the actual tasks? Try to separate it out.

Got time to kill? Spend it building new skills instead of “serving time.”

What can you learn that you can put on your résumé? Computer skills? Public speaking? “If your company offers education benefits, use them to make yourself marketable,” she said. Even if your company will pay only $1,000, you can take a class at a community college.

Realistically, there may be times when you have to make the best of a bad situation until you can move forward again. 

If you’re stuck, are there particular tasks in your job that you like? Has your job changed so that you’re now doing a lot of things you find mind-numbing or off your career path? Is there any way to talk to your boss about this?. . . Look outside your job for positive feedback. Can your family and friends supply it? Perhaps volunteering or joining a professional organization can give you some sense of purpose if you can’t get it from your workplace, he said. When I was in a job and my supervisors insisted — unfairly, I believed — that I wasn’t producing enough, I found it helpful to document exactly what I was doing. This proved not only important in negotiations with the higher-ups, but also helped re-establish my own sense of worth.

Not sure whether you should stay and try to fix it, or go? See if it has the four pillars creative jobs need to be fulfilled. Struggling to find a new one? Even in this bad economy, there are ways to jumpstart your career.

Read the rest of the article over at the New York Times.

  • JeffreyDavis11

    Sasha ~ This is a very helpful piece that I’m forwarding to my readers & clients. Note The link to “the rest of the article” at the NYT is a completely different article by a different author (?). Let your editor know.

    • Sasha

      Thanks Jeffrey! Did you accidentally click on one of the links above the one you mentioned? Both the “rest of the article” link and the first one that we then excerpt, are the same. 🙂

  • JeffreyDavis11

    Hi, Sasha,

    When I clicked on this link – Read the rest of the article over at the New York Times. – it led me to an article written by someone else on a similar topic published in 2012. Hope this helps.

    • Sasha

      No worries, both links are to the same NYT article written by Alina Tugend in 2012!

  • Heidi

    Love the recommendation to build skills! Mastery is a core motivator and one of the most important traits I encourage my clients to hone. Developing mastery in a skill you’re interested in can help find purpose in a job you feel stuck in as well as give you a leg up in the job you’re meant to have! Thanks for the share Sasha!

  • Sarah Peterson

    Thank you! I would love to be able to quit my job and start out on an entrepreneurial adventure, but I’m working and in school, so I’m biding my time right now and it’s just not practical. I love to hear about people who have done it, and how they did it, but it does tend to make me feel more discontent than inspired due to the realities right now. Love that this is the here-and-now advice. Thank you for sharing!

    • Sasha

      Glad it helped! 🙂

  • karlheine

    Great article! It is very important to document everything when planning on making a change. I usually suggest keeping a journal to identify what is happening professional and personally. The next step, realistic adjustments for the move to either a new job, career or something entrepreneurial. If you’re not writing and planning, you’re living in your head and will repeat the same situation you want to leave.

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