Downsizing, reorganization, and new lean-and-mean policies haven't made your job intolerable — you are, after all, tolerating it — but you're hanging on by your fingernails.
You're so unhappy that if you could find a way to leave, you would. You've tried looking around, but economic conditions just aren't improving fast enough to have made enough of a difference.
So there you are. Stuck. For now, anyway. Monday mornings are the worst part. Except for Tuesday, and all the others. How will you ever find a way to keep sane until you can eject?
Here are some suggestions for finding ways to cope until you can find something you truly love…or something that at least doesn't hurt so much.
- Check your assessment of conditions
- Yes, economic conditions do seem bleak, but be alert to changes. Strive to be the first to recognize the opportunity to make a new start somewhere else.
- Reframe the trap as a choice
- For most of us, the feeling of being trapped makes almost any job intolerable. But are you really trapped? Or are you choosing not to quit because you don't want to be unemployed? It's not a very attractive choice, I admit, but it is definitely a choice. By deciding to stay in a job you dislike, you've taken the best choice, and you don't like it much, but you aren't trapped.
- Use the time machine
- Step into the time machine. Travel to three years from now, and look back on what you did now. You waited until you could discover the right opportunity, or at least, a "right enough" opportunity. You didn't burn bridges. For most of us, the feeling of
being trapped makes almost
any job intolerableYou didn't alienate colleagues, or your boss. You did your best to perform to your highest standard. It was difficult, but looking back on it from three years into the future, it was the right thing to do. You eventually found a job you love.
- Make your job more fun
- Solve this problem: How can I make my job more fun? Music? Bring your MP3 player to work. More work you like and less work you don't? Maybe your boss can help with that. Tired of travel? Maybe you can make the travel you have more fun.
- Trouble with someone in particular?
- A boss, a rival, a co-worker, whoever it is, there's usually something you can do to make the trouble a little less troublesome. Get a coach, find a counselor. View the trouble as a chance to learn how to deal with trouble.
Most important, recognize that for now, this is the only job. It's the one you have. Almost certainly there are some good things about it. Remind yourself what those good things are, and keep them in the center of your attention. Then do great work. Top Next Issue
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How does this happen?
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming October 5: Downscoping Under Pressure: I
- When projects overrun their budgets and/or schedules, we sometimes "downscope" to save time and money. The tactic can succeed — and fail. Three common anti-patterns involve politics, the sunk cost effect, and cognitive biases that distort estimates. Available here and by RSS on October 5.
- And on October 12: Downscoping Under Pressure: II
- We sometimes "downscope" projects to bring them back on budget and schedule when they're headed for overruns. Downscoping doesn't always work. Cognitive biases like the sunk cost effect and confirmation bias can distort decisions about how to downscope. Available here and by RSS on October 12.
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