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4 Ways to Make a Bad Job Better

By Maurie Backman - Mar 3, 2018 at 10:32AM

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Stuck in a terrible job for the time being? Here's how to cope.

Though not everyone walks around thrilled all the time at work, it's an unfortunate statistic that more than half of today's employees identify as being unhappy with their jobs. If you're stuck in a role you're dissatisfied with, then your next obvious step should be to search for a new job. But what if that search isn't fruitful, or there's a reason compelling you to stick out that bad job for longer (say, to vest in a savings plan or reap other such financial benefits)?

If you're far from content with your job but know you can't leave for the foreseeable future, dragging yourself to the office every day won't be easy. Here's how to make the situation just a bit more bearable.

Man sitting at a desk holding his head, looking upset.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Boost your skills

It's always a good idea to improve your skill set, but doing so might help make a miserable work existence just a bit more tolerable. That's because learning new things might unearth opportunities to work on more engaging projects, or, better yet, move to a more rewarding position altogether. So see what the people in your office who seem happy are doing with their days, and figure out what it'll take on your part to join them.

2. Find folks to commiserate with

They say that misery loves company, and that tends to be the case in workplace environments, too. Being stuck in a place where you're unhappy with your boss, your responsibilities, or the way the company is run can feel isolating, so if you're able to identify colleagues who also aren't thrilled, it might help you to talk things out with them. Find a couple of confidantes and aim to grab lunch together once a week, during which time you air your grievances and seek out advice. Having that support system could make a lousy situation less bothersome.

3. Treat yourself to a little something at the end of each week

We all have bills to pay, and even if you have some wiggle room in your budget, blowing your paycheck week after week probably isn't an option. But that doesn't mean you can't carve out a little bit of money each week to reward yourself for making it through. Whether it's a new article of clothing, tickets to a concert, or a takeout meal from your favorite restaurant, knowing that you have a modest treat waiting for you can help you stay focused and motivated when you're otherwise ready to call it quits.

4. Plan your exit strategy

Just because you're stuck in a miserable job situation now doesn't mean you won't ever move on. In fact, the one thing that might help you get through each workweek is knowing that at some point in time, you won't ever have to report to your current office again. So spend a little time mapping out your exit strategy, because that'll help make that day seem less out of reach. If, for example, you need to stay on board for another 18 months to obtain a sizable bonus, figure out what you need to do between now and then to get hired immediately at that point. This will give you a bit more control in a situation that might otherwise seem out of your hands.

Like it or not, sometimes we're forced to stick out a bad job. That said, rarely are we forced to do so forever, so just keep reminding yourself that as you trudge along. There will come a time when you'll have a chance to be much happier at work, and the best thing you can do is be kind to yourself along the way.

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