It’s a familiar sinking feeling in your stomach that starts on Monday morning and doesn’t let up till Friday evening. Actually, scratch that. It’s Saturday night and you’re already getting the blues at the prospect of another dreaded working week. If that sounds like you, you’re not alone. But just because you don’t have an immediate exit plan doesn’t mean you’re condemned to cry into your lunchtime sandwich every day. And if, for one reason or other, you can’t leave your job just yet, here are some steps you can take to address your unhappiness and perk up your work life.
Spot the problem
What is it that’s making your life miserable? Do you detest the work or the people in the surrounding cubicles? Most people don’t start out hating or feeling indifferent about their jobs. But the drudgery of routine work and a lack of challenging, fulfilling tasks can hammer the enthusiasm out of anyone. If you’ve reached the point of boredom where you can do your work in your sleep, perhaps it’s time for a change of scene. This doesn’t have to mean leaving the company.
Talk to your boss and see if there’s a way for you to expand your job scope. Lateral movement within the company is also an option if you’ve got transferable skills. Talking to your boss shouldn’t be a confrontational encounter. Of course, don’t tell your boss you don’t like your job. Say instead that you’d like to change your scope for career development purposes, and that you’d like to continue learning and exploring new areas.
If your misery stems from a catty colleague who’s nasty to you for no apparent reason, don’t fret just yet. It’s possible he or she may be experiencing personal problems which are manifesting at work. In her book, How to Love the Job You Hate: Job Satisfaction for the 21st Century, Jane Boucher suggeststhat one way to deal with a colleague who doesn’t like you is to ask the person each day: “Is there anything I can do for you?” This can help ease the tension and keep relations on a friendlier note.
Find your pastime, not overtime
Not everyone is lucky enough to know early where her true interest lies or be able to switch jobs in a flash. Some of us may be too entrenched in our careers to do a sudden U-turn. Others may need to hold down a stable job due to family and financial constraints.
For some people, this results in feelings of frustration at being trapped by their circumstances. We may also feel regret at missing out on what could have been our life’s great pursuit.
In such cases, pick up a new skill or hobby that is related to your passion. This way, at least a portion of your time is devoted to doing something you love, not consumed by your job. After working for a few years, you’ll need something different for balance. Achieve a compromise between holding down a steady job and pursuing you interest.
It might even be possible to expand your hobby into little jobs or assignments. Say you have a flair for floral arrangement. On top of taking classes and experimenting at home, why not volunteer to arrange the flowers for a friend’s birthday or a colleague’s farewell?
Where’s your finishing line?
Many people jump into their first job without asking themselves if it’s what they really want. It’s a conveyor-belt process that starts in school. We pick our areas of study based on what we score the best grades in. This leads to a degree in that field, then a job that you may not hate, but is hardly igniting your passion.
Even if you think you’re already on the career path of no return, it’s still good to have a vision of what you’d really like to be doing. Just think of those people who stick pictures of Caribbean beaches on their cubicle walls, or keep little notebooks of ideas for penning their life’s great work. People perform better once they have identified what they want to do and work towards it. This keeps their motivation up and makes their routine jobs seem less of a chore because they have things to look forward to.
Of course, not everyone has their sights so firmly fixed on their goals. Many people who are so used to taking direction from parents, teachers and bosses that they can’t decide for themselves any more. If you’re unsure of everything except the fact that you hate your job, speak to someone who can offer a neutral perspective on your personality and strengths. This doesn’t have to be a career coach. Mentor figures and positive friends can also offer some valuable insight, and you may discover some new things about yourself.