Before I landed the job I now have, I remember praying and asking God to grant me this opportunity. I remember feeling like this job would change my life, like all the things I was dreaming of would become a reality if I just got this job. I knew I would do my absolute best; I was trained; I have the requisite qualifications and experience… I was ready! After several years, hundreds of applications, dozens of interviews, and one too many no’s, I finally got the job. At first, I was hesitant because I knew the environment I was walking into. I knew that there were challenges, but I felt prepared; I felt that my approach would make the difference… it did, but I didn’t know what it would cost…
Being in a job that you hate with people who constantly undermine you because you got the job they wanted is terrible for your mental health. My dream job, the job that I prayed for and worked my ass off for, was terrible. It severely affected my mental health, my perception of myself, and it destroyed my self-confidence… My dream job was a nightmare!
After having one too many breakdowns, constantly double guessing myself, developing severe imposter syndrome, having trouble sleeping, and developing the nasty habit of constantly replaying the day’s events in my mind, I decided that enough is enough, this is no way to live. My job was taking over my life and affecting my ability to function. If I were to have any semblance of happiness, I had to do something.
The ideal solution to my situation would be to find another job, but seeing that well-paying jobs in my country are scarce, I have to cope with my current job until my ideal solution becomes a reality.
Unfortunately, there are many people in my situation, no one I know actually loves their job. People dread going to work every day. To help you survive a job you hate, here are a few tips:
Tip 1—Change Your Mindset
Maya Angelou said, if you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Your mind is a powerful thing. Making minor adjustments to how we think about something will eventually change how we view and react to that thing.
Changing your thoughts about your job will drastically change your attitude towards your job. Looking at your job from a fresh vantage point will provide a new perspective.
To avoid going crazy, I had to figure out a way to cope with the challenges that will inevitably arise; I had to remind myself that challenges are opportunities to learn and grow and if I allow myself to become bewildered by them, they will swallow me alive.
Whenever something difficult happens at work, take some time to review the issue, see where you went wrong, develop ways to prevent a recurrence, and keep it pushing.
Tip 2–Always Remember…. It is Just a Job!
For several years, my identity was wrapped up in what I did. My job was not just a job, but a part of who I was. Because of that, everything that happened at work affected me personally. Every failure, mistake, or severe criticism I took to heart. I tried to be everything to everyone, and I failed miserably. I had to learn to separate myself from my job and remind myself that the purpose of my job is to finance my lifestyle. My job is there to help me afford my life. It is not my life.
Tip 3—You are Replaceable
A few years ago, I met a vibrant young professional who led an important department in the public sector. She was promising and very nice to work with. Her department had some oversight of my department. She was conducting a visit, took some information to compile a report to be submitted to my company. A deadline was given, several days passed, and no report. I called inquiring about the report only to be told that the young, vibrant girl I met a few months before fell one day at work and never got up. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. Only a few days later, I received a call from her replacement, and the process continued without a hitch. The report was submitted, and we went on our merry way.
I say all that to say that no one is irreplaceable. That young lady was great at her job and she was replaced within days. Her company didn’t lose any sleep over her death and I am sure that based on the demands of her job that she lost several hours of sleep.
While we all want to perform at optimum and do our best, we have to leave something for ourselves and our families. If you are entitled to vacation, sick, or casual leave, take it! Take the time to unwind and enjoy your life, because your job will be just fine without you.
Tip 4 – Respect Your Job for What It Is
I am pathologically late. This is something I am not proud of and I try every day to improve. Some days are a hit and others, a miss, but I never stop trying to improve. If you have a job that requires you to report to work for eight hours, give your eight hours. If you are to complete three projects per day, complete those projects. Never short-change your job because you don’t like it. Even if the people are horrible and you hate the lighting in your office, you are still being paid for your services, so do your part and honor your responsibilities.
The days when I reach work on time and I log my eight hours are the days I feel more accomplished, and less bogged down by the things I did not get to do because I lost an hour or two.
Tip 5 – Never Mix Business with Pleasure
I have always been a proponent of leaving work at work. I try not to socialize with or befriend my coworkers because who wants to talk about Suzan in accounting when you are trying to enjoy your weekend. Separating your personal life from your work life is the key to leaving work at work.
I try not to have an opinion about the people I work with. If someone who reports to me is delinquent in completing their tasks, I don’t automatically view that person as a delinquent. I remove the action from the person; I respond to the task not being completed as opposed to the person not completing the task. By doing so, I remain objective and unbothered. I could care less about how one married male co-worker seemed extremely chummy with another unmarried female co-worker… not my business. I keep to me and mine.
By separating yourself from your work and the people you work with, you will be able to have a thriving fulfilling personal life, that is, for all intent and purposes, personal.
Tip 6 – Always be Professional…. Even When It Hurts
I have been in meetings with people going in on me and all that is crossing my mind is the nasty things I want to tell them… I mean; would it be so wrong if I tell Mr. Know-it-all to go f**k himself?… No!… But I don’t, despite my better judgment. I simply count to ten, take a long bathroom break, and reemerge with a Miss Worldesque smile and demeanour. I remind myself that I have morals. No one will make me behave in a manner that contravenes who I am. In the words of Michelle Obama, “when they go low, we go high”.
Maintaining one’s composure when faced with altercations is one of the main tenets of professionalism. When you are professional, you remove emotions and introduce logic and objectivity to a situation. This enables you to emerge from a confrontation or disagreement, mostly unscathed.
Tip 7 – If All Else Fails…. Leave!
Some days I feel like I have reached my wit’s end, and all I see is the door. I know that if things become untenable to the point of no return, I will accept the loss, and walk away. My mental health is worth more than a paycheck. Even though Mrs. Mortgage and Mr. Insurance will disagree, I have to do what is best for me.
If you have tried everything and nothing seems to work, maybe what is needed is a change of environment. Maybe the company you are with is incapable of recognizing your value. The skillset you have maybe what another company is desperately looking for.
I wish we lived in a world where people’s mental health and happiness were a priority in the workplace. Where work-life balance is mandated and jobs are easily accessible. But sadly, the society we live in has 100 people vying for one job and has companies that care more about their bottom line than their employees. In this environment, it’s the survival of the fittest. Everyone has to be responsible for their happiness and health.
Take care of yourself, take a break when you need to, and always remember that growth does not take place when you are in your comfort zone. Use your situation to improve and make yourself better for the next hopefully better job.
Hope You Enjoyed! 🙂