Starting a new job is a challenge. In some ways, it can feel like high school all over again. Trying to find your way around, looking for someone to eat lunch with, and getting used to all the lingo.
It’s normal to feel out of sorts and uncomfortable in the beginning, but what happens when those feelings don’t fade? What happens when you realize, “Uh-oh, I’ve made a mistake. My new job stinks.”
New jobs can stink for a variety of reasons. Maybe it’s something as simple as the commute. (You didn’t realize you’d have to take a train and two buses!) or as complex as dealing with a crazy boss with multiple personalities (which face will she show today – Jekyll or Hyde?).
Regardless, the moment you realize that your new job stinks, it can feel a bit like time is standing still. It’s important to note that if your job is difficult because you feel harassed or unsafe in any way, the best decision may be to leave the position. Nothing is worth risking your personal safety.
Otherwise, if it’s just your regular, run of the mill ‘bad job’, AND, it’s the fourth one you’ve had in two years, it’s probably best to get some longevity on your resume. Here are some tips to help you stick it out.
Find Your People
Chances are you’re not the only one unhappy at your job. If the company is poorly managed or the environment is chaotic and disorganized, you are definitely not the only one feeling the pain. Look around and seek out people you feel you might have something in common with.
Be careful here – you don’t want to find the “Negative Nellies” who moan and complain simply for the sake of it. You want to find people like you – the ones who are making the best out of a challenging situation.
Forge friendships with people you can trust – you need a person you can escape to lunch with and vent. These relationships can help to buoy you when the atmosphere gets heavy and you feel like you just might not be able to take it one more second!
Learn Something New
If your new job stinks because you don’t enjoy the work you’re doing, what else can you do to supplement it? Does your organization have a Learning and Development database? Is online training in other disciplines offered? Or is there someone in another department you can informally shadow? Just because your role is narrowly defined, doesn’t mean you have to be. Expand your horizons on your lunch hour, come in early to study, or stay late if you can. Use this time to deepen your skills and prepare you for your next job adventure.
Expand Your Life Outside of Work
Sometimes jobs are so miserable, you can’t stomach the thought of being there one more second than you have to be. If that’s the case for you, now is the time to focus on life outside your office walls. Have you always wanted to take an Improv class? Or learn to cook? Maybe you want to coach your son’s softball league but you’ve never had time.
Expanding your life outside of work is good for a variety of reasons. It gives you something to look forward to, it exposes you to new people (who may be able to get you connected to your next job!) and it can also provide perspective. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut if we stay in the same areas – by trying out new hobbies or interests you might awaken skills you didn’t know you had.
Give Yourself a Countdown
I’m in a relationship with someone who has to travel a lot for work. He sometimes needs to be away for weeks or months at a time. When he’s gone for a long period of time, we create a countdown calendar for the next time we’ll see each other. It gives us something to look forward to, to get excited about, and makes time seemingly speed up (sometimes!).
If you’re in a job that stinks, you will want a countdown to remind you that life will get better and there are good things to look forward to. Name the future date you will leave the position for greener pastures and in the meantime, do one thing EVERY day that will get you closer to that reality. Having that future date in sight reminds you that better things lie ahead, and keeps you focused on your end goal – a satisfying, fulfilling job!