I’m writing this on a Sunday, which means that like most people, I’ve got the Sunday Scaries. “I can’t wait until Monday,” said no one ever.
As it turns out, 85% of the world isn’t thrilled with their jobs.
I obnoxiously fall into the other 15%. My boss is one of the best I’ve ever had, I think my salary is more than fair, and I’m pretty good at what I do.
But like most people, I have good days and bad days at work.
Lately it’s been a lot of bad days.
To a point where I’ve been pondering how I might react if I got fired. Surprisingly, out of all the emotions that I could possibly imagine feeling–anger, sadness, disillusionment–the one that stands out the most? Acceptance. Acceptance that the jig is up, and it’s only a matter of time.
So far, I’ve been lucky enough to have never been fired or laid off from a job when it mattered. (Getting fired from a pizza joint when I was 15 doesn’t count.)
But with government shutdowns, impending recessions, constant news about media layoffs, and the general political climate, it’s easy to feel like you’re a sitting duck, with little control over your own career.
Couple that with the fact that I work in advertising, a volatile industry. One day there’s a hiring binge, and the next there are mass layoffs. In the past year, my own department has shrunk from about 15 people down to four. Multiple co-workers quit at once. Clients ask to squeeze our budgets every year or jump ship altogether.
I’d be lying if I said none of these factors affects me.
Considering most of us spend most of our waking hours at work, feelings about our jobs can take a huge toll on our emotional well-being. I think it’s worth talking about how to work through these feelings in a healthy way.
In the past, I’d do the opposite of healthy. I’d run away. Whenever I didn’t want to work on a new assignment, or my job got too hard, I’d take the easy route: find a new job. I’d never stayed at a company for more than three years.
After doing that a few times, I learned that jumping to a new job didn’t necessarily solve my problems: In some cases I traded my old problems for new, different ones. Sure I no longer had to work on a crappy project, but in exchange for that I got a jerk boss at the new company.
A new job, even one that paid me more money, wasn’t always the solution.
Maybe, like me, you’re feeling a little anxiety about your own situation. When I’m hitting a rough patch at work, and quitting isn’t the right move, here are some ways I’ve learned to manage my feelings and push forward.
1. Do one good money thing
When I have a bad day at work, an immediate mood-booster is transferring more money into my savings account. Saving more money for Future Me is one of the most satisfying forms of self-care. Another thing that helps is leveraging the frustration as momentum. To light a fire in me. Sometimes I’m able to knock out three or four money tasks I’ve had on the back burner in one go, from sheer motivation alone.
2. Look for underutilized work benefits
I try to focus on the positive aspects of my job, and taking advantage of them helps me regain a sense of control. In my case, I have a tuition reimbursement benefit. My boss literally scheduled a meeting to let us know this benefit was something we should use. So if I’m worried about the longevity of my job, I can at least try to gain more skills by taking classes on my company’s dime.
Take another pass at your benefits manual, and you might find a silver lining.
3. Think in terms of milestones
Sometimes things can seem big, vague and scary. So I break it down into manageable chunks. When I really start dreading something, I create short-term milestones in my head to look forward to or get through.
“If I can get past this one meeting next week, it’s going to be OK.”
“If I can make it to that one vacation, I’m gonna be alright.”
And most of the time the thing I was dreading wasn’t actually that bad, anyway.
4. Gain some perspective
Have you ever read Ask a Manager? People write in with all kinds of job-related questions, and reading about outrageously bad scenarios reminds me to assess my own situation a little more objectively.
I start thanking god that my boss doesn’t make me cc him on every single e-mail, or my co-worker doesn’t play with a screaming monkey toy at her desk.
In comparison to lots of people, I have a fantastic situation.
- I get to be creative and build things, both qualities which align with my interests.
- I’m working for one of my favorite bosses ever. He actually knows how to do everything I do (except better), and never takes credit for my work.
- I get a generous amount of time off, and my vacation requests are always approved, no questions asked.
- It doesn’t look weird to leave the office by 5:30pm every day.
- I feel my salary is generous, considering my job duties.
I’ve worked at enough places to recognize I’ve got it good. Really good.
I know some people truly are in bad work situations, so stepping back and reminding myself how fortunate I am is immensely helpful.
5. Forge friendships at work
I’ve worked at my company for a few years, but with unassigned seats, it was hard to make friends when I sit in a new spot every day. Now I have an assigned seat, and with a steady group of folks sitting near me, I’ve struck up some friendships that help the time pass by faster. I’ve stayed at jobs for longer than I ever thought I could, simply because I had a friend at work to chat with or vent to all day.
6. Have something that no one can take away from you
Like lots of people, I’m hugely motivated by autonomy. In a perfect world, I’d get to do what I want, when I want. And somehow get paid for it.
The reality is, I don’t always get my way at day job. There are times that I know I’m right about something, I voice my opinion, and then I get overruled anyway.
But then I remember that I have my blog. The thing I built from scratch myself. And I get to run it however I want. I can choose to work on things with no clear end result, just because I enjoy the process of doing it.
I’m reminded that my job is just one part of my life–it isn’t everything.
Work on something that’s yours, and yours only. Something outside of work that you have to look forward to. Then your world starts to get a little bit brighter.
So if you’re feeling down about your job, hang in there. There are more people in the same boat than you probably realize.
Let’s keep it positive! What do you do when you aren’t feeling 100% jazzed about your job and quitting isn’t the answer? How do you motivate yourself to keep going?
Feature Image: Unsplash