One of these days I’m going to find the perfect job where there’s absolutely nothing to complain about. Okay, probably not. Even my favorite jobs had something that wasn’t right, like overly blasted AC or a loud chatterbox a couple cubes over. I really did enjoy my previous job, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have gripes about being short staffed and deadlines made unrealistic by that short staffing. Or being called at 4am after a deployment even though there was nothing I could do about the issue, they just wanted someone from my team on the call.
So, no job’s perfect. Even people who say they have the perfect job probably have something less than ideal they have to deal with, it’s just that everything else is so great it’s easy to overlook those issues. Because with a lot of jobs that’s kinda what you have to do, deal with the stuff that isn’t great and enjoy the stuff that is. But odds are you’re spending a good chunk of your life at work, so there’s a limit to how much you might want to “deal with”.
So what to do you’re having a hard time dealing with your job’s downsides?
If you’re miserable at work it’s entirely possible that you have a bad job, a job where there’s abuse, needless safety hazards, and other general unhealthiness. I say needless safety hazards because some jobs, like firefighting, are inherently unsafe but firefighters are provided training and equipment to make it as safe as possible. However, if a fire station was unable to provide helmets that would be a bad job.
If your boss offers you a promotion if you’ll sleep with him, you have a bad job. If your employer wants you to do something illegal, you have a bad job. If you find yourself in a situation like this you must act or you’ll likely end up hurt. You could quit, try to fix the issues internally, report illegal actions, etc.
A wrong job isn’t necessarily a bad job, it just isn’t the right one for you. A germaphobe wouldn’t be able to handle many of the jobs showcased on the tv show Dirty Jobs, but I see some of them and think, “I’d enjoy that kind of work.” I wouldn’t be happy in sales or other people-facing positions because I prefer to hide out in my cube and deal with a computer most of the time. Some people want a challenge in their job, others just want to clock in and out. My youngest brother needs a solid structure of “this is what you do and this is how you do it” with regular feedback, not something he can get from any manager.
The main trick to figuring out if your job is the wrong fit is in knowing yourself. As I mentioned above, I’m not a people person. That doesn’t mean I would hate a position that required dealing with people more often, but it does mean that the job would wear on me because it would require more effort and energy than my current people-lite job. That kind of energy drain is far worse for me than that ceiling light that’s been annoying me for the past several months. And the hallway on the other side of my cube that people like to use for impromptu conferences? Not nearly as bad either.
So if you find your job hard to tolerate, why? Is there something you can do to change it, or is it time to make a career change? Before you do make that change, be sure you’ve figured out what it is that you’re looking for (or avoiding) first.
If you’re miserable, going to work will feel miserable as well. If you resent having to work your way up to the top, no job will appeal. If you have health issues, financial troubles, a broken relationship, it probably isn’t your job’s fault but you might blame it anyway. The point is, you might hate your job but the problem itself actually lies in you.
If you’re truly depressed, well, there’s probably nothing I can type that will help you magically turn it all around so that you feel better. So all I’ll say is please take care of yourself, whether that means improving your health or seeing a professional.
But for most other issues, attitude really does make a difference.
If you resent having to start at the bottom, why? If it’s because you think that you’re just that awesome, prove it. Go in to work and show them just how great you are. No one is going to give you anything just because you say you’re the best. Also, if you feel like you’re asked to do tasks that are beneath you – they aren’t. I don’t care if they’re asking you to empty waste paper baskets when you were hired for something else, unless the situation is abusive just consider it part of the job.
If you’re stressed out because money is tight and you’re underemployed, do something about it. If spending is an issue, get it under control. If you really just aren’t making enough, get a second job, or look for something that pays better. In the meantime (and I actually hate this phrase but sometimes it’s true) be thankful you have a job. Even if it’s working fast food for minimum wage, you have something that’s bringing in some money and some is better than none. Don’t let yourself feel trapped, just because the situation isn’t great now doesn’t mean it won’t get better.
Learn to deal with it. Life ain’t perfect so suck it up and accept that there are things you can’t change. If the problems you’re having at work aren’t related to the two sections above, get tough and cope. If you really want to you can hunt for something different, just realize that it probably won’t make you happy.
In fact, that last statement is worth stating twice – your job might not make you happy. I was joking with one of my coworkers about how I didn’t want to mess up his “pride and joy” and he told me that his pride and joy can’t be found in these four walls. He spends a lot of time volunteering and working with the homeless, I’m sure that’s his pride and joy much more than the work he does here. That doesn’t mean he hates his job, just that he finds more meaning after work. So maybe you have a cause, or hobby, or family that truly makes you happy rather than your job, and you see a job as nothing more as a necessary evil – just because it isn’t the highlight of your day doesn’t mean it has to be terrible. Yes, it might not be as much fun as coloring with your kids, but go ahead and have fun in the office anyway.
This is a topic I’ve been considering lately because there have been some changes at work that I don’t like. I also feel like I’ve been lied to, I was told during the interview process that they’re flexible on scheduling yet that isn’t true at all. This doesn’t make the job a bad one, I’m just wondering if it might be the wrong one after all or if I should just suck it up and deal with it.
I’m also tired of listening to people complain about their jobs. A bit of venting is healthy and I have no problem with that, but there comes a point where I just want to tell people to shut up and do something about it. Tips for finding jobs is a whole series of posts itself but seriously, there are jobs out there. Do some networking, maybe get more education. Or decide that there are enough upsides to make the downsides worth it. Don’t stay someplace that makes you miserable, but don’t be miserable because it isn’t perfect.