Maybe this has been a long and difficult year. Maybe your job wasn’t heading in the right direction before everything hit last year and the events of the year haven’t helped. Whatever the reason, do you find yourself dissatisfied with your work? Many people I’ve been talking to have decided to leave their current roles for these reasons and more, but the problem remains, how do you keep your head in the game and stay happy when you don’t have the next role lined up? On top of that, how do you stay positive when your job search might take a while to yield just the right opportunity? How do you find things to love, even when you know you are ready to move along – in short, how do you cope? Finding a few small ways to improve what you can control can make any situation more bearable in the short term. Here’s a list of things you might try to keep your mind and spirit healthy.
Remembering why you wanted the job to begin with. It is common for people I work with to somehow have lost contact with what they initially liked about their work. Maybe the job has gotten more complicated over time or they are doing less of what they were drawn to initially. If there is a way to keep what is fulfilling about the work more present in your mind throughout the day (who do you help, what do you create, what impact do you make), it may make the day more bearable. Keeping a photo or keepsake nearby that reminds you what you are working for can also help provide a positive visual cue on tough days.
Find ways to play to your strengths. You might not have control over what you do, but is there any flexibility for how you get things done? Finding ways you can do your work that play to your strengths can make your task a little lighter. Better still, is it possible for you to do more work that relies on your strengths and to do less of what drains you? Is there anyone around who is strong in an area you are not that you could share this responsibility with to get everyone working aligned in a way they work best? Speak with your management if you need to, but strive to make your job one that helps the company and employees – including you.
Improve your relationships. Are there people you are working with that are difficult for you to communicate with or see eye to eye? Clear the air any way you can and find common ground. Don’t tolerate hostility, but don’t generate it either. Work with a mediator if necessary, but try to find a way to move through any interpersonal conflict and get to a point where you can collaborate effectively even if you aren’t best friends. Being able to navigate choppy waters is a good story to tell in interviews and good practice. Make it a project. Give yourself bonus points and treats for making a difficult situation manageable. If the environment is truly toxic and others don’t meet you half-way, try not to make yourself hold up the weight of a bad professional relationship for long. Involve HR or management when necessary and take good care of your mental well-being.
Manage your stress. Find what helps you blow off steam and do it. Make a list of the activities that fill your tank; they could be hobbies, or exercise (even moderate is great!), talking to friends, petting a cat or dog, playing a board game with family – ANYTHING that takes your mind off of your troubles and gives you a chance to unwind, breathe, smile, laugh, and most importantly, relax. Meditation practices (there are some wonderful apps out there!) can help you capitalize on small breaks throughout the day and creating mental calm as well as help you ratchet down anxieties and stress at the end of your day. Pro tip: it can be hard to remember to do these activities and to slow down when you are used to running at a high gear for a long time. Schedule breaks and make intentional space for de-stressing at the start until you make relaxing a daily habit.
Talk to someone. Find someone you trust (friends and family) who you can reason things out with and get things off your mind when they are troubling you. If you find your problems are particularly worrisome, difficult, or chronic – reach out to a therapist or counselor to make some headway and find some peace. With the advent of so much tele-health and app-based therapy options, you can find a variety of ways to include therapy to help make life more manageable. Keep in mind if one therapist or type of therapy isn’t right for you, there are so many options out there, so keep trying until you find the option and support that works for you. Sharing can really take some of the weight and sting out of problems, so it is worth a try.