Career & Finance

Hate Your Job but Can’t Leave Yet? Here’s How To Thrive Through a Bad Situation

Source: Stocksy
Source: Stocksy

If you’ve never been stuck in a job you hate, I think you can successfully count yourself as one of the lucky ones. Whether it’s because of a micromanaging boss, toxic office culture, or just being bored out of your mind, being stuck in a job you hate is a tough spot to be in. I’ve been there a few times, once where I basically clocked in and out each day and had nothing to do, and another time working for a boss who just really didn’t want to be a manager. Even if you’re looking for a new job in a hurry, how do you survive your current job when you can’t just walk away from your paycheck? While you’re busy polishing your resume, making new connections, and preparing for interviews, here are some tips to help you make it through each day until something better comes along. 


1. Acknowledge your situation, but don’t linger on it 

If you’re anything like me, you love to rehash a situation over and over again. While there’s something incredibly therapeutic about venting, doing it too often can bring down your mood and even ruin an entire day. It can be helpful to acknowledge that you hate your job (ideally with a supportive friend or two, maybe with a drink or mocktail in hand), but try not to do it every day or let it dominate all of your waking thoughts. It’s also important to make sure you’re keeping things professional at work—venting to colleagues can be helpful, but can also put people in awkward positions or ruin your reputation if things get back to management. Per the laws of manifesting, what you focus on is being invited into your life, so don’t linger on the negativity all the time.


2. Find the positives

Okay, so your job royally sucks and you hate every minute that you’re there. But, do you really? Chances are there are some positive elements to your job, even if they aren’t immediately obvious or are just small moments. Maybe you love your commute into the office (or lack of commute because you work from home!), your work bestie, the free snacks that allow you to save on your grocery bill, or that one project you get to work on each week. Whatever it is, dig deep and find something you enjoy about your role that you can focus on when things get tough. Chances are that you’re developing some really great skills at your current workplace that will serve you well in the future—even if it’s just the art of patience or finally mastering Excel—so do your best to focus on the benefits when things feel especially rough. 


3. Set motivating goals 

There’s nothing worse than clocking in each day, doing the same monotonous tasks, and then clocking out, knowing you have to look forward to that forever more (or until you find a new job). It sucks being in that situation, but setting goals can help get you out of it. Whether it’s a simple goal of finishing a task faster than usual or something bigger, like getting your boss to give you more responsibility, having something to accomplish each day can be a huge motivator and a great way to take your mind off the time passing. If your job is boring, this can be a great time to learn some skills that will help you in the future, like finding ways to use AI to work smarter or finally building the perfect project timeline. The best part about setting goals? Treating yourself once you achieve them. No matter how small your goal was, you definitely deserve a coffee or cupcake on your walk home for checking something off the to-do list. When you’re stuck in a job you hate, finding small wins is key. 


4. Take breaks 

I don’t know about you, but when I’m doing something or working with someone I don’t enjoy, I feel like my patience is at an all-time low. The key to combating that is taking regular breaks so you don’t get too caught up in the situation. Grab a coffee, take a quick walk outside (maybe schedule a walking meeting), or just get up and go to the copy room to break up the monotony for a few minutes. Implementing the Pomodoro technique, which involves 25 minutes of work followed by a five minute break, could be the perfect productivity model to try when you’re not enjoying your job because you’ll know you have something to look forward to after a block of work. 


5. Make your workday more enjoyable

If you haven’t caught on by now, the key to surviving a dreadful work situation is to find joy whenever you can, wherever you can. In that vein, try to inject some joy into your job by modifying your environment as much as possible. Listen to podcasts or music during boring admin work, set yourself up at a coffee shop and romanticize your working day, or move your desk to your balcony or backyard if you work from home. Even finding exciting outfits to wear throughout the week or trying a new coffee order each day can add a bit of pep back into your step. Whatever it is, find something small to bring some joy into your day to help you stay positive. 


6. Plan fun activities outside of work 

As a twenty-something living in North America, it can feel like your career and your job is the pinnacle of everything—when your job isn’t great, it’s easy to feel like your entire life is in the gutter as well (been there, felt that). However, it’s important to leave your work at work and not let it seep into every area of your life. Plan fun activities after you leave the office, whether it’s a new painting class or a picnic with friends so you have something to look forward to. Make sure you keep your weekends packed with a mix of restorative self-care and fun events so you don’t spend all of your time dreading the next working day. Sunday scaries are unfortunately common when you don’t love your job, but the goal is to keep them at bay for as long as possible so you can live the rest of your life in peace. 


7. Improve your situation (if possible)

Before you write off your job completely, ask yourself if you’ve done everything you can to improve the core issue you’re experiencing. If it’s a micromanaging boss, have an honest conversation with them and see if you can establish regular touchpoints once or twice a week where you provide an update on your progress and they get an opportunity to give feedback. If you’re struggling with cliquey colleagues, speak with someone senior in your department to see if you can be moved to another team or department. As a last resort, consider involving HR in your situation to see if anything can be improved before just resigning yourself to a job or environment that you hate. 


8. Focus on learning and growing 

If there’s one thing a bad job can teach you, it’s what you don’t want in the future. Take the time to carefully consider what you don’t like about your role and see what you might be able to change for your next job. Is it truly an absent leadership team, or is it that you’re in a role where a lot of independence is expected regardless of the company? Is your team super cut-throat, or are you just in an industry where competition is the norm? It could be a mixture of many things, but taking the time to figure out what’s working and what’s not for your career can help you learn and grow in the future. Take some time to journal your thoughts, then reflect on your notes to help identify patterns. At the very least, being in a job you hate can help you determine the kind of boss or colleague you don’t want to be in the future, which is always valuable info. 


9. Set boundaries  

It seems like everyone is talking about boundaries these days, but it’s for a good reason. When you have a job you hate but can’t leave just yet, boundaries are going to be your best friend. Try your best to not check emails or Slack messages after hours, and let your manager know when you’re feeling overwhelmed with too many tasks. Don’t feel the need to share your personal life with people you aren’t friends with, opting instead for polite professionalism, and don’t feel obligated to listen to the office negative Nelly go on and on about everything she hates. In a job you don’t like, protecting your emotional state is key to making it out in one piece. Remember, you agreed to work for a certain number of hours each day, so fulfill that requirement but don’t forget to take your vacation, use your full benefits (maybe now is a great time to try therapy!), and take those personal days for whenever you just need a break.