The ONLY Way to Survive a Job You Hate

Being compelled to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day affects me in a lot of really negative ways. It makes me feel stifled, trapped in my own head, and thoroughly drained by the end of most days. I don’t feel cut out for the whole “having a job” thing at all (judge away, baby boomers—we’re all just the products of our genetics and experiences), but like many of you, I feel financially tied to my employer because America doesn’t give a shit about people having health insurance and my company gives me great benefits and good pay.

There are plenty of posts on Medium by people who are determined to get you to Just Quit the Job You Hate and Follow Your Dreams! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, IDIOT? IF YOU DON’T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR TRUST FUND NOW, WHEN WILL YOU?!

While I think those sorts of posts can serve a purpose to some, most of them feel extremely idealistic—that is to say, unrealistic.

I’m not here to tell you you should quit your job right now, because I don’t know enough about your situation to seriously suggest that. Only you can know if that’s a good idea. BUT, I do have a lot of experience enduring jobs I hate, because I’ve hated literally every job I’ve ever had, whether I was serving people chicken at KFC or copywriting for a pretty cool company.

Here’s the only thing that makes having an unenjoyable job more bearable: Re-claiming as much of your time as you possibly can.

What do I mean by that? I mean not letting your job totally consume your life. Which involves:

Cultivating an enjoyable, fulfilling morning routine.
In general,I’m not an advocate of getting any less sleep than you need for optimal functioning. (7–8 hours.) So ideally, don’t sacrifice sleep. But if you have no other way to get some pre-work time to yourself, it might be worth it for your sanity and ability to feel joy and stuff.

I’ve found that having “me” time before I chain myself to a desk for the day helps me feel less swallowed up by my job. It can ground me in myself and my own needs and desires before heading out the door to do something I don’t really want to do. (Suck The Man’s dick, which I’m really bad at. My at-work gag reflex is far too strong.)

On a good morning, I’ll:

  • Make a yummy, healthy breakfast
  • Drink coffee with my boyfriend
  • Meditate
  • Workout or read or write
  • Play with my cats

You get the idea. It doesn’t really matter what you do (though I do think meditation and eating a good breakfast are really good ideas), as long as you feel like you’re getting to experience yourself in a non-work context before you assume the work version of yourself for the day. I generally have a much worse day when I wake up late, rush to work, and have to spend 8 hours being a version of myself I’m not that into before I can have “me” time. This leads me into another really important thing:

For the love of god, please reclaim your lunch hour.
It’s so easy to eat at your desk or take a shorter lunch hour than anyone’s asking you to take because you feel like there’s not really anything to do but work. But it’s a really bad call. DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF ON YOUR LUNCH HOUR. Again, it’s about experiencing yourself in a non-work context so you don’t feel so swallowed up by a job you don’t like but are unfortunately compelled (for whatever reason) to be at for a huge part of your life.

Workout. Walk around and get some fresh air. Go to a coffee shop and read a book or gratitude journal. Meet up with a friend. FaceTime someone you’ve been meaning to catch up with. As with your morning routine, what you do is a lot less important than why you’re doing it: so you can reclaim the middle of your work day as your own and not feel like you’re entirely controlled by a job you hate.

It’s also a really good way to break up the work day in your mind so it doesn’t just feel like one giant, long slog.

Have a good ass time after work and at the weekend.
Don’t let your sucky job ruin your entire life. When you’re not at the office, cast work far away from your mind as much as possible by doing stuff you love. You’re already giving those bastards enough of your time and energy! I know it’s easy to feel so drained by your job that you lack motivation to really do much on nights and weekends, but if you can find ways to overcome that mindset, your life with a job you hate will improve dramatically. Tell yourself that whatever annoying stuff you didn’t get done before leaving on Friday will be Monday Morning You’s problem.

I hope this post motivated you to re-claim more of your non-work time as your own. I’m going to leave you with some “Don’ts” that I suspect some of you might fall prey to:

  • Don’t waste what precious out-of-work time you have mindlessly scrolling on your phone. Break that phone addiction OR IT WILL BREAK YOU. It probably already has! But like a phoenix you can rise!
  • Don’t let your job be your identity. What you’re passionate about doing is a lot more important than what you currently do for a living.
  • Don’t get into an “I’m trapped here forever” mindset. Form a plan for getting out of the job you hate and into one you won’t hate as much. And take steps to move said plan forward.
  • Don’t buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need to try and numb the pain of having a job you hate. THAT’S HOW THEY KEEP YOU TRAPPED! Apply principles of minimalism. Get your spending under control and you’ll have more control over your life generally. Luxuries become necessities, and they keep people in jobs they hate at the expense of their happiness and sense of life fulfillment.

Ok, that’s all. Good luck. Try to stay present while you’re at your job and cultivate a sense of acceptance about the whole NIGHTMARISH ORDEAL!

All Rights Reserved for Samantha Shelley

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