When the economy has taken a dump and everyone is searching for work, purpose and meaning can fly out the door. People are no longer searching for careers; rather, millennials (who are the last people on earth to tolerate complacency) are taking any decent job that crops up because they need to survive.
Some of us are happy and some of are as far from happy as possible, and that’s because our jobs are completely uninspiring, unengaging or unrelated to our passions. Not to mention, loads of us work with sociopathic bosses and in toxic workplaces. The truth is: you can honestly hate your job all you want, but it won’t change the situation at hand. The secret is that you have to change the way you think about your job.
4. You are not your job. Good news! Just because you’re stuck in a job you
don’t prefer totally despise doesn’t mean you’re somehow defined by your job. So many people are working in roles where they are overqualified or they’re working for a company whose culture doesn’t blend well with theirs. That company culture isn’t the be-all, end-all, and your paycheck has very little to do with who you really are.
Being a receptionist doesn’t mean that your role in this world is to simply answer phones (and I don’t care what anyone says, it’s not an easy job)—it means you happen to be answering phones, but that you’re also smart, funny, passionate, creative, kind and [insert your character qualities here]. The goal is to find a job that fulfills you on a personal and professional level, of course, but also to remember that work and life are actually separate. If we start defining our worth by our crappy job, we start to lose the hope that we deserve something better—and you totally do, ladies.
3. You have the power to change the situation. I recognize that The Devil Wears Prada is basically fully passe, but do you remember how Andy Sachs, who interned at Vogue—apparently the dream job of all Dream Jobs—began to despise the way the position made her feel? Yes. What did she do? She left. I always used to think about that when I started to feel trapped and complacent in roles.
You have to remember that there’s an entire world out there, and it needs your skills, ideas, thoughts and passions. The unfortunate reality is that most of these jobs don’t know who the hell you are, so you’ve got to find them. If you’re unhappy, find another job. It may take discipline, but you can do it: tell yourself you will apply to jobs for one hour per day, and follow through.
2. Learn from those around you. Are you miserable because your boss is a total psycho? He’s bossy, mean-spirited, uninspiring and thankless. This makes your day-to-day feel like a prison sentence, right? What you can takeaway from this experience is that you’re never going to treat people like he treats you, and that you now know leadership qualities that don’t engage workers. When you’re in a position of power, you’ll have learned some important lessons.
The same goes for coworkers. If your cubicle buddy is constantly encouraging and positive—despite the dysfunctional workplace—this is something you should note. Instead of thinking, “that person is too chipper,” (which I’ve totally thought before), you can think, “I am so happy at least one of us can inspire the rest of us.” You can be that person, too—just not the annoying, ass-kissing version.
1. Find out what you love. Do you work in an office where ideas and suggestions aren’t welcome? Is it like Big Brother in there? Do your bosses hover and spy and make you feel like you’re being watched? Maybe you’ll learn that you like a more open-office, where people discuss ideas and bosses don’t micromanage. Guess what? It exists. You just have to know what you want so you can look for it.