My adult life has been defined by doing one job: talking people off a ledge who hate their jobs.
I don’t particularly enjoy my job of listening to other people complain about their jobs, but as America’s big sister, it is a constant in my life. Here’s how I manage a job that I hate while helping you hate yours a little less.
1. Look for the truth. Most individuals who hate their jobs hate something else about their lives. Marriage. Debt. Chickens that are now roosting. A horrible job is a lagging indicator of a broken dream. Let’s acknowledge the dream, mourn its loss and move ahead with a new plan.
2. Don’t try to fix anything. Not every problem can be fixed with a nine-point list. Time is the best solution to 99% of career-related issues. Take a nap. Go for a walk. Leave it alone for a little while.
3. Listen without judgment. I offer this because I need it. A lot.
4. Community matters. When language becomes catastrophic, I like to go big-picture and talk about the collective apathy that most of us feel about work. Everybody struggles to find meaning. That’s part of what makes us human. Sucks, yes, but it’s true.
5. See the usefulness of the job. Work teaches us skills that can be used at our next job. Most horrible jobs offer a pathway to something better if we’re paying attention.
6. Address boredom. Mental fatigue is a result of monotony. Most people burn out when they obsess about the same thing over and over again. I’d tell you to get a hobby, but maybe you should try complaining about something different. That’s a good start.
7. Get back to basics. Compensation matters. Does your job provide for what you currently need and want in life? Are you saving money to capitalize on a long-term dream? What’s the right number to help you endure this bullshit for another day? (That’s what I ask myself when I hear you complaining about your arch-nemesis at work.)
8. Be practical. I like to think that most people are grateful to have a job where the biggest complaint is about culture and not safety.
9. Be aggressive. Okay, work sucks. Uh, now what? What’s the plan? Here’s a Dunkin Donuts napkin. I’ll dig a pen out of my purse. Let’s write this shit out.
Doing my job of listening to people who hate their jobs has led me down a surprising path where I’ve met cool people, traveled the world, and learned new skills. I am a much better person for having listened to others bitch and moan about work.
So here’s what I know: you could do worse than to hate your job and endure. It builds character and gives you an opportunity to challenge yourself. If you’re lucky, you’ll be at the right place at the right time to help other people just like you.