We don’t always sign the offer letter of our dreams, but that doesn’t mean we have to let ourselves fall behind on the path to our goals. When your work situation isn’t ideal, shifting your mindset and being proactive can not only change your day to day experience but also propel you closer to what you actually want.
Your future can look bleak when you’re unhappy at work and you might be tempted to check out mentally until you can physically walk out the door forever. But if you do that, you’ll leave your position feeling like you completely wasted the years you spent there. Being actionable can ensure a better future and also re-energize your attitude toward your job.
Here are four ways you can curate a career you love while working a job you hate.
1. Take Advantage of the Advantages
Many jobs come with perks you might not feel motivated to use at the time (especially if you don’t love your workspace), but they’ll be the first things you think about once you’re on to bigger and better things. Do you have a lot of vacation days? Don’t use them all for vacation. Take those days for proactive self-care, attend a seminar or panel on a topic of interest held by professionals in an industry you’re trying to break into. Does your job offer tuition reimbursement? Use the full fund for classes on things you want to learn about. Do you have a lot of time on your hands during your 9-5? You might be bored now but later you’ll thank yourself if you turn on a webinar and listen to it while you await your next assignment. Bottom line; not all perks are listed in your contract, look for the bright sides and opportunities you can use to your advantage.
2. Communicate Your Goals to your Superiors
Within reason, of course. Instead of “My goal is to get the heck out of here,” try “My goal is to take on responsibilities like A, B, and C and learn D, E, and F.” Encourage your job to use you in the ways that will build the skill set you want. If you’re crushing your current duties, they’re unlikely to say no to some competent help in other areas.
3. Build Relationships with Your Peers
You don’t have to be best friends with your colleagues but working on stronger relationships with the folks you work with can improve your experience at your job. At the very least, having positive interactions can fuel you through hard times but also, you never know, they might be trying to leave too! In the past, I’ve bonded with coworkers just over how much we hated our jobs. We ended up looking at one another’s resumes and networking with each other’s resources. Never show your hand — don’t be the first to mention disliking your position, duties or overhead management. Instead, ask others what they think about topics and feel it out from there.
4. Ask for Feedback
Even if your job doesn’t seem to matter in the grand scheme of your career goals; take advantage of being liked, respected or admired. Ask your boss (and even your peers) for feedback. Ask if they mind you saving their comments for your portfolio, or if they mind writing a recommendation on Linkedin. It doesn’t matter if the duties at this job don’t match the duties you want in the next. If you’re working in marketing now but plan to move into Data Analysis in the future, it definitely won’t hurt to have managers and colleagues say they liked working with you and that you were an impressive and engaged professional.
You’ve probably heard people say they “fell into” their jobs and stayed in the field. It takes work and strategy to transition and that can be hard to master without guidance and know-how–so most people just don’t bother. That doesn’t have to be you. Don’t spend another moment being passive and unhappy. Go get what you want.
Get what you deserve.