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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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
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- Typical approaches to shortening time-to-market for new products usually involve accelerating problem solving. Accelerating problem definition can also help. Available here and by RSS on January 29.
- And on February 5: Unrecognized Bullying: I
- Much workplace bullying goes unrecognized. Three reasons: (a) conventional definitions of bullying exclude much actual bullying; (b) perpetrators cleverly evade detection; and (c) cognitive biases skew our perceptions so we don't see bullying as bullying. Available here and by RSS on February 5.
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Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.