How To: Survive A Job You Hate

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By Chris Illuminati, AskMen.com Lifestyle Correspondent

The alarm sounds and the pain and despair immediately overcome your body like a flu kicking into motion. Your body aches, your heart races and your mind wanders and calculates the cause and effect of every plausible and valid reason not to leave the protection of your comforter. You aren't sick. You aren't hiding. It's far worse.

You hate your job, and there is no way of getting out.

Millions of men face a similar scenario every morning. With a terrible economy and few companies hiring, making a career change is a major risk. People will laugh and tell you that you should be happy to even have a job at such a terrible time. They can say that with a smile because they don't have your job. There are times you'd choose homelessness and poverty over sitting through another sales meeting or brainstorming session.

Here is the cold hard truth: You're stuck, at least for now. Your only choice is to make the best of the circumstances. Just because you hate your job doesn't mean you can't take something of value from the situation (and something of value doesn't mean stealing -- although you did run out of printer paper at home). Here are four tips on how to make the most out of a job you hate.


Build personal relationships

To keep yourself sane and away from using paper clips as dangerous projectiles, try to make the actual office experience as enjoyable as possible. The work itself might be unbearable, but as long as you enjoy the company of co-workers, it won't be too hard to handle the daily grind. Imagine if you worked at a job with all your closest friends. Even if the work sucked, you probably wouldn't mind. First, get on the good side of those in management who you still like (provided they still like you). It doesn't hurt to have friends in high places or to do some schmoozing. Learn from their rise to the top of the food chain. They probably did the same thing to get ahead. Also be aware of those individuals just starting out in the company. Be a teacher. Take newer employees under your wing and show them the ropes.

Building relationships with co-workers is also a clever networking move. They know people at other companies. They have connections that can soon be your connections. It could lead to a better job within the company or possibly something with another company. Think of befriending co-workers as making nice with fellow inmates (except without the sexual favors for survival). They are serving the same sentence. Making friends and allies will help make the time served tolerable.


Get involved

Remember the first couple weeks of high school or college when you only knew a few people and weren't really having the best time. What did you do? Chances are you got involved in activities around campus -- you joined an intramural sports team, the school newspaper or the new student orientation committee. You met a ton of new people and life on campus got more enjoyable. It's the same concept on the job. Find projects you are interested in working on. For the sake of experience, get involved so that you can build your resume to get the next job. At the very least, this could alleviate some boredom, especially if part of why you hate your job is that you feel uninspired. Getting your hands into different projects could get you a transfer to a different department or even a different location.

If there isn't anything cooking that you'd want to spend time on, start an internal project. Take the pulse of the office and find out what bothers them about the work environment and do something to improve the situation. Take matters into your own hands. For example, if workers complain about the crap coffee or the lack of spaces to eat lunch, come up with options to take to management. Suggest simple changes that can be made to benefit everyone involved. Inform your superiors of these simple morale-boosters. Your co-workers will applaud you, which always feels good. Also, think about some of the problems that always pop up around the office and become the go-to person to get the problem resolved. If the copier always breaks, learn how to service it before they have to call the repair guy. If the IT guys are flaky, learn all about the company operating systems and become a pro at working around their issues. Make yourself indispensable and people will start to treat you differently around the office.


Learn about the job you really want

You've determined it's not the company you hate, but your actual job. You assumed crunching numbers or making cold calls for the rest of your life was the way to happiness, but evidently you were mistaken. Think about the job you will eventually leave this company for, and learn everything you can about that position. Think of it as a paid internship. If you are interested in human resources (to help out people who are also miserable at work) for the next gig, ask questions of the HR department at your job. It's also a good chance to explore different career options within the same company.

Attempt to make a career change. If a position opens up that you feel could be interesting to pursue, make it known that you want to apply. If you get the position and end up hating it, how is that different from your current situation? At least you won't make the mistake of taking the job and hating it at another company.

Another option is to take classes on the company dime and on company time. Many companies will offer to finance professional development for employees, making it possible for them to take courses that will benefit them on the job. Take full advantages of these offers of free money and a chance at improving your set of skills. Chances are the company won't come right out and let you know things like this are available, so do some internal research.


Escape

You are at the end of your rope and the rope is hanging from the terrible fluorescent lighting fixture above your desk. You want out any way possible. Well, your contract states you must physically be at work. No one said your mind has to be on the job. (Yes, take it off the hot new intern for just a few moments.) Find little ways to escape during the day. You can meditate (keep your eyes open though), or bring a notebook to jot down notes, ideas or stories. Hell, you can even read a book if your cell phone has internet access. If your office permits earphones, use the time to listen to audio that can expand your mind; learn a language, bulk up your vocabulary, or just listen to an audio book.

Make sure to get out of the office whenever possible. Take a walk outside to clear your head. Go grab a cup of coffee. Do anything to physically get out of the office as much as possible to keep your sanity. Always take full advantage of your lunch break.


the end is near

Even prisoners have a parole date. It's important to set a deadline. Tell yourself this isn't permanent and give yourself a cut-off date to find a new job. If all else fails, don't quit. At least try to get fired so you'll be eligible to collect unemployment. Getting caught with that intern would probably do the trick.

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