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Staying sane with a really crappy job

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Have you ever been stuck with a job you hate? Sometimes looking for a new job just isn’t the right option. Sometimes there are no better jobs in your area. Read on to learn how to stay sane with a crappy job.

Why job satisfaction is falling

If you’re not happy with your job, you’re not alone. Only around 50% of Americans are satisfied with their jobs. That number is down by more than 10 points from the 80s and 90s, and it’s not expected to get any higher in the foreseeable future.

That’s because jobs have fundamentally changed:

Following decades of layoffs, reduced pension plans, diminished loyalty and less investment in worker training, “the employee and employer social contract — this relationship between workers and employers — is not what it used to be,” she said. 

Not everyone can have a job they love. Sometimes you just have to make the most of other parts of your life and not let the job get to you.

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Keeping sane with a job you hate

Sadly, crappy jobs are something I have a lot of experience with. Here are some ways to make the best of a job you’re stuck with for now.

Avoid complainers

It’s healthy to vent frustration. But if you have co-workers who complain endlessly and don’t even want to discuss possible solutions or see any positives, their attitude can become contagious. Don’t let them get under your skin. Find ways to politely walk away from their complaining.

Don’t brood

If you can’t fix any of the things that are bugging you, then thinking about them will only make you unhappy. Instead, focus on the positive: the paycheck, or the clients/customers to whom you make a difference, or your enjoyable co-workers.

If you can’t find any positives, try to create some in your mind. (If all else fails, keep telling yourself “this too shall pass”, because it will.)

Ignore office politics

It amazes me the sort of jobs people will fight over. Anything from a $2 tip to a big promotion. If people are stabbing each other in the back, I don’t even want to know about it.

Unless there’s someone I need to watch out for myself, it’s just not my problem if people want to play Game of Thrones at work.

Ignore office worries

It’s hard to ignore rumors of layoffs or that your company might be failing, since your job could be affected by either of those things. And yet, what are you going to do about them? Work even harder?

Most of the time, the best solution is: just focus on doing your thing. Sometimes keeping a low profile – getting stuff done, not complaining, not whining for reassurance that layoffs will never happen, and not asking for a lot – is the best way to avoid a layoff.

Keep a life outside work

If there’s nothing positive about your job, then do something outside your job that brings you a sense of fulfillment or pleasure. Sometimes family and friends are enough, but if not…

Write a novel. Do volunteer work. Take up a hobby or sport. Start a book club, or a gaming club, or any kind of club that your friends or neighbors might enjoy.

Find forums online where you can chat with people about things you love – movies, TV shows, books, actors, cars, whatever. Learn something new: scrapbooking, a musical instrument, cooking, etc.

Keep your venting very, very anonymous

If you have co-workers who vent to you, it’s probably safe to vent to them, but you never know who might use something you’ve said to score points for themselves at your expense.

Venting to friends and family is safer. But if that’s not enough, start a very anonymous free blog (no pictures, no names, no cities, nothing identifying) about your annoying workplace.

You’ll feel better if you can make it funny! People will read it and empathize, and before you know it you have a little support system. You might even help yourself or someone else.

Remember you are not alone

You are definitely not the only person who’s miserable at work, even if sometimes it feels that way. In fact, there’s probably quite a few people somewhere out there who are more miserable than you are.

Get out of the office for lunch

Take full advantage of your off time to get away from the office – it makes a surprising difference psychologically. Even if you just take a brown bag lunch to a nearby park to eat, it can be a valuable hour away from all those things that are causing you stress.

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