Most of us can relate to the experience of holding down a job that is no longer working for us. Whether it's the boss from hell or a vague sense that there is more to life, at some point we all feel the urge to move on. In flusher times, maybe you would search out greener pastures, but in the Great Recession, that option may not exist. So, how do you cope?
Harvard Business' Management Tip of the Day offers three strategies to help you survive:
1. Connect with people (build relationships among those you work with)
2. Use humor (don't be so grim about it all!)
3. Don't be complacent (Use your free time to look for other jobs and update your LinkedIn profile)
These are great tips for making it through the 9 to 5, but as anyone in a less-than-ideal job situation knows, the stress and worry follow you home. Here are three things you can do when you're NOT at work to make sure the job that's bringing you down doesn't zap the energy out of your entire life:
1. Reconnect with purpose -- and go deep. Many of us were doing what we loved at one point, and then somehow get lost along the way. The job changed, we changed, or both. What is it you really want to be doing? Two ways you might think about this: First, what are the times you have felt the happiest in your life, and what made that so? And second, envisioning your own funeral, what do you want your friends, family, and colleagues to say about you? In other words, why are you on this planet? Start with that picture in mind, and allow it to steer you on the right course when you are ready to make your next move.
2. Begin a 5-minute daily mindfulness practice. The stress and anxiety of being out-of-sync or miserable at the place you spend 40+ hours a week can be overwhelming. If there ever was a time to create some quiet head-space for yourself, it is now. If you are new to mindfulness practice, start with three to five minutes a day of quiet sitting (basic instructions here). Building a mindfulness practice will do several things when you are out-of-sync with your job: it will strengthen your ability to be in the present moment, nipping those anxiety spirals in the bud; it will give your over-active mind a rest from stressful thinking; and it will return your attention to your human-ness, by focusing your attention on the simple wonder of the breath.
3. Start a fulfilling side project -- and earn extra income. What is it you love to do? I mean really, really love to do? For me it is painting, cooking, and crafting of all sorts. (It's also thinking and writing about ideas, which is why I started this blog!) If you hate your job, now is the time to put some off-hours energy into things that bring you joy. Two reasons for this. First, you could use some extra joy right now. And second, if you can monetize your passion that extra cash will diversify your income, which down the road could give you that extra wiggle room you need to break free from your job. Trent at The Simple Dollar has written a lot about how to tackle side-businesses.
If this economy has taught us anything, it's that nothing lasts forever. The most stable job, the biggest bank, even the beloved morning paper -- the things we thought would always be around -- are no longer safe bets. If you are stuck in a job you hate (perhaps feeling guilty for hating it in this economy --anyone?) now is the time to reconnect with what fulfills you and what grounds you. That is the space you want to be prepared to fully step into as things, inevitably, change.