Sometimes work can feel like a bad marriage.
When you find “the one,” the thrill is almost overwhelming. You send in a résumé and seduce someone into talking to you. You do the dance, sign the paperwork and raise glasses to what should be a beautiful relationship.
Then the honeymoon ends and you start to smell the office coffee — literally.
But sometimes leaving isn’t an option. Maybe you want to stay for the money, or maybe the job is helping you get where you want to be. Or you’re not sure where to jump to.
If you hate your job but can’t quit (yet), here are four habits that will help you work through it:
1. DON’T WAIT FOR A PAT ON THE BACK
Most people hate their jobs not because the actual work sucks, but because they don’t feel appreciated.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel wanted, but managers don’t really get paid to make people feel good — they get paid to produce results. In most organizations, results are measured in dollars and cents, not smiles and camaraderie. If you’re working hard because you’re hoping for a pat on the back, you’re setting yourself up for disaster when it doesn’t happen.
Work as if you’re working for God himself and if a compliment comes out of that, great! If not, no problem. Cash your paycheck and keep it moving.
2. TAKE PRIDE IN YOUR APPEARANCE
If you own your own business and dress casual, it’s called “genius” or “originality” or “self-expression” or “edge.” But if you work for someone else and you don’t look professional, you’ll likely be seen as, well, frumpy.
When sitting in an office cubicle starts to feel like being in a prison cell, you owe it to yourself to at least look good while you’re serving your sentence. Maybe it’s shallow, but we feel better about ourselves when we look good.
3. GET SOME GOOD LOVIN’
No, not that kind. I’m referring to getting down to whatever makes you uniquely you.
It could be dance parties, knitting, opera or “Grey’s Anatomy” marathons. It’s tempting to want to spend every waking hour outside of work complaining about work to people on the Internet — don’t do it. Instead, make sure Facebook can’t supply any skank status updates that will eventually turn around to bite you where the sun doesn’t shine.
4. MAKE THINGS HAPPEN
Action is much more efficient than hoping someone will notice the value you bring to the table.
Hate the cube? Ask for a new one. Hate that chair? Replace it yourself. Can’t stand your laptop? Buddy up with IT. Ready for a new challenge? Ask for a promotion or transfer.
It’s incredibly frustrating to want something and never get it — especially when it’s something you deserve. A word of caution: Make sure you’re actually producing the dollars and cents we talked about in No. 1, and be reasonable when making requests. There’s a fine line between a polite, legitimate request and unearned whining.
It would be nice to just quit, find a new job or even start a business — and if you can make those happen, go for it.
But those options aren’t always easy. So if you’re at your wit’s end at a job that’s sucking the life out of you, make the best of it while you figure stuff out.