When you're stuck in a job you hate, it's easy to read a few articles about pursuing your dreams and find the validation you were looking for to turn in your resignation letter. But what feels like a terrible job may not be permanently terrible — in certain situations, it may be worth your while to try to fix your job, rather than jump ship.
Image by Mascha Tace (Shutterstock).
You've surely seen the articles floating around the web that list signs that you should quit your job immediately (here's one from us). Now, there are certainly situations that warrant quitting, and plenty of people are stuck in jobs they hate, when they clearly should be looking for something better.
But sometimes you should focus your energy on improving your current position instead of heading off into the unknown. How can you tell if you may be able to make your current job work? Look for the signs below.
1. You're Surrounding Yourself With Negativity
If you constantly feel frustrated with your boss, your responsibilities, your co-workers, and the company in general, look to the company you keep at work. Are you grumbling with your colleagues over lunch? Do you spend your breaks tracking down the latest gossip about who got the promotion you wanted and who got invited to lunch by the department manager?
By focusing on complaining, venting, and gossiping, you're intentionally surrounding yourself with negativity — which may be tainting your perception of your job.
Instead, try focusing on what's great about your job. Instead of complaining about a missed promotion, work on documenting your achievementsso you can present a better case for yourself next time. Talk to your colleagues about an exciting project you're working on, rather than venting about the menial task your boss asked you to do.
Can positive thinking solve everything? Not by a long shot. But by attempting to change your mindset, you'll have a clearer idea of whether the problem is your job — or the way you think about your job.
2. You Haven't Created a Plan for Movement
There's nothing worse than feeling stuck at a job with no foreseeable possibility of advancement. It seems pretty obvious that if there's no room to grow, it's time to move on to something different.
But is the issue really that there isn't room to grow — or that you haven't proactively collaborated with your boss or HR to determine how to get to the place you want to be?
Maybe, for example, you want to move into a management role within your department, but you keep getting bypassed for promotions. No room for movement, right? Well, probably not unless you work with your boss to identify what you need to do and what skills you need to develop in order to snag the next available promotion.
Or, maybe you need to work with HR to determine if there's an internal move you could make that would help you better achieve your goals — like moving from the sales team to the sales training team, where you could start putting some management skills to use.
3. You Haven't Taken a Vacation in Ages
Let's be honest: Working an endless stream of 40-plus hour weeks with no break could make anyone want to quit their job. And so, if it's been a while since your last vacation, the problem may not be that you need to quit your job entirely — but that you need a break from the office to recharge.
Done right — meaning, with as little email-checking as possible — a vacation can help you feel less stressed and more effective at work. And could even give you an entirely new perspective of your current position.
Taking advantage of those unused vacation days to take a break from your job can help you come back with more clarity: Did you just need a few days off? Or do you need a permanent break from your job?
4. You Haven't Voiced Your Concerns to Your Boss
Maybe some of the aspects of your job truly are unbearable — e.g., you don't like your assigned responsibilities, you can't stand working with your project team, and your workload is so heavy that you're constantly staying late and working on the weekend.
But unless you've actually talked to your boss about these things, you have no idea whether they're facets of your job that are set in stone, or whether you may actually be able to change your situation.
By simply voicing your concerns to your boss, you may be able to shift your workload, focus your time on different priorities or projects, or transition onto a different project team. Essentially, you may be able to make your current job a whole lot better — without having to polish up your resume.
Before you brush off your resume and cover letter and delve into a job search, it's worth it to see if your current job can be salvaged. Sometimes, changing your mindset and advocating for yourself can make all the difference.
This post originally appeared on The Muse.