Hate Your Job But Can't Leave? 5 Career Strategies to Survive, Thrive and Become More Marketable

Feeling forced to work in a job you hate is one of the biggest sources of job stress. It is critical to develop a game plan as early as possible. Many people promise themselves to stick it out, but eventually sabotage themselves because they hope they won't have to. Here are 5 strategies to get started.

Strategy #1: Change the way you talk about your job. It's easy to fall into the blame game. It's almost fun to call up a colleague and talk about how horrible your boss is and how you wish you could leave. But these conversations cause a downward spiral into deeper frustration.
Refuse to participate in negative conversations. Change the subject. Say your other phone is ringing. But do it.
When you find yourself feeling frustrated and angry, focus instead on what you want to feel, have and be. Instead of, "Why does he call meetings at the last minute?" say, "I want a work environment where we get at least a day to prepare for important meetings."
Some people find it helpful to create a mantra to recite when your company's name comes up in your thoughts. For instance, one person tried reciting, "Quiet. Respect. Reward." Over time, she was surprised at how calm she felt. She could think more clearly.

Strategy #2: Recognize areas where you can cut back on efforts without risking your job.
One of my acquaintances has a policy for his workplace. "When I get asked to do something that will take time, such as a change in the format of a report, I wait. Sometimes nothing happens. If it's really important, they will ask me a second or even third time."
Obviously this policy won't work everywhere. But you may be contributing to your own frustration by doing work that isn't valued or rewarded.

Strategy #3: Grow your career on company time.
Nearly every organization offers courses, seminars and growth opportunities. When you're feeling frustrated, it's easy to ignore them because you think, "I already have so much to do."
Meanwhile, begin using your free time to join networking groups and develop some free lance opportunities. You gain power as you gain independence.

Strategy #4: Schedule time to turn inward with meditation and silence.
When you're not sure what to do, it's easy to get involved in activity that doesn't carry much meaning. It's also easy to listen to a lot of bad advice. Some well-meaning friends will say, "You'd better hang in there. Good jobs are hard to find." Others, equally well-meaning, will urge you to resign even before you have another job lined up. You lose energy listening to this conflicting advice as you struggle to make your own decisions.

Strategy #5: Find a safe place to express your feelings, ideas and insights.
When you talk to colleagues and anyone who may become a colleague, keep your game face. You might miss out on a hot job lead because you're branded as dissatisfied or unmotivated. Anyway, complaining puts you in a one-down position.

Family and friends can be supportive confidantes if they understand your situation. On the other hand, you can jeopardize close relationships when you ask them to act as sounding boards. Every career coach has clients whose spouses have said, "Haven't you found another job yet? It's been a whole month."

Career coaching can seem expensive but it's a wise investment if you can hang on to your job while protecting your personal relationships and your sanity. Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., offers consulting services to mid-life, mid-career professionals who want to enjoy the first inning of their second career.

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