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How to make a miserable job bearable

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Unfortunately, most of us have found ourselves in a job at some point that is unfulfilling and leaves us feeling miserable. At it’s worst, people will say that they flat out hate their job. Some say that they are bored, or have stopped being challenged. Some are frustrated or disillusioned by the direction of the business or by the leadership.

Whatever the reason, the outcome is never good, particularly given that we devote so much of our time and energy to our work.

It’s hard to stay motivated to do our best work when we are miserable. We are more likely to slack off and be less productive, less innovative and less likely to go the extra mile to get the job done to high standard.

And then there is the toll on our emotional and physical wellbeing.   When we are happy and engaged in our work we are less likely to get sick and are more immune to burnout.

If this is resonating with you… you’re not alone.

The most recent Gallup Poll survey suggests that about two-thirds of the Australian workforce are either disengaged or actively disengaged from their work. That’s a lot of miserable people not working to their fullest potential!

I understand this predicament well.

Some years ago I found myself in a role that no longer suited me. I was not working to my strengths and I felt undervalued and under utilise. My work performance slipped and I was bored, angry and miserable.

And like many who get stuck in a role they don’t enjoy, worse was to come when I got sick, with no real explanation to what was causing my symptoms.

When we reach this point it’s usually an indication that it’s time to start looking for a new role or the next challenge.

However it’s not always that simple.

There are many reasons why moving jobs may not be the best option right now such as; other personal priorities, an industry slow down, the time of the year or commitments to a particular project.

But one thing I will say is… just be sure that you aren’t settling for the status quo out of fear of change.

So if staying put is your best options right now, let’s make the most of it.

Here are 7 suggestions to make your miserable job bearable.

1. Take Responsibility. Recognise that your happiness is your responsibility. If you make the decision that you will be staying, also make the decision to make the best of it.

Focus on the positives and take time to do things that increase the feel good factor. This might mean making time to reconnect with your network for lunch, seek out a high potential new graduate to mentor or working from a café on occasion.

2. Let go. Make the commitment to focus on those things within your control and let go of the rest. Worrying about decisions and issues outside of your control will only lead to frustration. Tune your attention and energy to areas you have control over and that give you a sense of satisfaction.

3. Avoid negativity. Have you ever noticed yourself getting dragged into the negativity or drama within the office? It might feel good in the moment but it’s long term effects are never positive.

Whether it’s whining about your workload or grumbling about your boss, negativity drags everyone down. It impacts your mindset, creates a disruptive energy, and is more contagious than the common cold. Stop it!

4. Challenge yourself. One of the most effective ways to get out your funk is to challenge yourself. Get involved in tasks and projects that stretch you either personally or professionally.

Get out of your rut and step outside your comfort zone. Learn something new. Do something for the first time.   It may at first feel uncomfortable or unfamiliar but the sense of pride and fulfilment will make it worthwhile.

5. Build positive relationships. Positive relationships make every situation better. Seek out new connections and build on existing relationships. Be generous in your support of others and graciously accept the support in return.

This might also be the perfect time to expand your networking efforts so that when the time comes for you to move onto the next role you will be perfectly positioned to tap into the hidden job market.

6. Up your energy. It’s time to get off your butt and get moving. Take a walk outside in the fresh air to get your body moving, blood pumping and lift your mood. This is not the time to be sitting at your desk for long hours, skipping your lunch break and neglecting your health and fitness.

7. Set a date. Draw a line in the sand and make a commitment to yourself. Set a date and make a plan to move on from your current role if nothing improves.

This will help you to see beyond the day to day irritants and problems of your situation.

Knowing your current role is only temporary can be incredibly freeing and allows you to begin positioning yourself for the next role or the next phase of your career.

Your happiness and your career choices are your responsibility.

 If you’re miserable in your job, decide today whether you’re staying and leaving. And then commit to doing what’s in your control to be making the best of your situation as it is today.

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