It's inevitable that at some point you'll have a day at work that really sucks. Then, eventually, maybe another, and another. Suddenly, the job you loved starts to feel like, well, work. Bad work. It doesn't have to be that way.
We've all dealt with bad bosses or low salaries, but that doesn't necessarily mean the cure for your ills involves quitting your job and finding another one. Every job is still a job, and every job comes with downsides. They call it "work" for a reason. Even if you're lucky and do what you love, you'll still have to deal with bossy managers, know-it-all coworkers and frustrating busywork.
So how do you beat that creeping feeling that your job is going to suck one day? There are many circumstances that warrant quitting, and you should do so if it really is time to walk. This post is for all the other times. We'll take you through some tips to stay focused, upbeat and happy with your work — especially if it's the work that attracted you to a job in the first place.
Step 1: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
The first and most powerful thing you can do is change your mindset. There are plenty of ways to go about this, but it starts with understanding that you have the final say over how you feel. Eleanor Roosevelt once said "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent", and that premise applies here: You may not be able to stop workplace annoyances from happening, but you can stop them from ruining your day.
- Avoid gossip. We've discussed how the hive mind influences us, and it's especially true in office environments. If everyone in your department thinks everything sucks, you're likely to feel the same way, even if you have nothing to gripe about. Try to stay objective when talking to coworkers about workplace issues and office politics, and don't let the gossip get to you. Focus on doing the best work you can.
- Resist negativity. Avoiding gossip is a good first step, but you can also choose to be part of the solution. Look for the positive and talk about it with coworkers. Make a list of the positive aspects of your job and keep it front and centre every day. Perhaps you get to work on something you love, or your job offers you free training and coffee. Whatever it is that makes you smile about your job, make sure you see it and take advantage of it every day.
- Look for more perks. How many of your job's perks do you actively use? Take advantage of them as much as you can. Whether it's flexible hours or a casual work environment, turn your job from a place you go every day to an active part of your life that contributes to your wellness.
- Learn to cope. Stress will always find you — I've never heard of a job without it. The important thing is to learn how stress affects you and what you can do about it. Take up a hobby, meditate or mentor someone at work. As you develop those coping mechanisms, you'll be less inclined to pass judgment on your job as a whole. Aggressively seek them out too: when something bothers you, immediately think about how you can address the stress, even if you can't address the issue.
Bring the things you love to your work. A great way to recharge your passion for your work is to find a way to work a hobby or passion you have into your work. Our own Adam Dachis found a way (see #3) at his old job to bring his love for video production to his job in customer support.
(Optional) Step 4: Give Up and Strike It Out on Your Own
If there's no way to fix the problems you face — no mind hack or holiday time that can offer relief — it may be time to try something drastically different. Consider freelancing full time or starting your own business. It takes nerve, financial fortitude, skill and a lot of luck to strike it out on your own, but if every job you ever get eventually sucks, you may never be happy until you're working for yourself on something that you're truly passionate about.
Step 5: Take Care Of Yourself
Don't underestimate the importance of taking care of yourself. It's easy to feel like every job sucks if the problem is actually with you. For example, if you're clinically depressed and the things that normally bring you joy fall flat, seek professional help before a new job. If you're not getting enough sleep, or your diet needs some help, your attitude and approach to your entire day will suffer. Exercise, sleep, time with friends and family, and caring for your mental and physical wellbeing in general go a long way towards making any job more bearable.
If your job really does suck, make sure you address the issues head on. Part of taking care of yourself is standing up for yourself when your job starts to walk on you. If it turns out that your actual work is the thing getting you down, or all the annoyances of the job outweigh the positives, then it might be time to walk away — just take your lessons (and our tips) with you instead of starting the cycle all over again.