Is it time to quit? Image: Pixabay.
Don't give up yet!
Congratulations, you’ve worked long and hard to land your dream job, and now you have it! On paper your career looks perfect.
So, why are you so miserable?
Because your "dream job" ended up being a nightmare, as dream jobs often do. And now you're feeling disillusioned and discouraged.
You find yourself in a viper’s nest of competitive, spiteful colleagues and bosses who don’t have time to guide or lead you because they’re too busy surviving themselves. This place is hardly the positive modern workplace you hoped for.
Working harder and later just drains you even more. And you don't feel successful or appreciated. Is it time to quit? Should you get out of there as fast as you can?
Jumping ship too soon can look bad to future employers. So, what else can you do?
Don't worry, there's hope! You can turn this situation around (and maybe even feel better about this job again).
Here are eight ways to cope with a dream job that feels like a nightmare:
1. Start growing your network of allies.
First, identify people within your organization who can teach you about the culture and what works. Identify what you can offer them in return, whether that's assistance, resources, or networking connections.
In general, start thinking of ways to help others look good — regardless of how they treat you.
2. Continue to learn and grow every day.
One of my clients wanted to leave his current job. He was disdainful of an opportunity to attend a conference, and thought it would be the usual talking heads and waste of time. Instead, he made good contacts, felt encouraged about his field, and learned new things.
If conferences and training opportunities are not currently available to you, look into Meetups and work lunches you can attend that will help you meet new people while learning and growing about shifts in the company (and in your industry).
3. Contribute in ways that benefit you and the organization.
Even though you feel burnt out and tired, keep an eye out for win-win opportunities. Offer up a practical plan or idea for solving a problem, developing new resources, or making an outside connection that has marketing possibilities.
Your effort and outreach can create a bridge between where you are and a promising new opportunity.
4. Negotiate a better work situation.
Take another look at what you’re expected to do. How could you tweak a process or change a system to save time yet still meet expectations?
See if you can negotiate a 4-day work week. Perhaps you can work from home for part of your hours. Make sure you approach your boss prepared with a work plan that will satisfy the requirements expected of you and even go beyond them. The secret is to propose a solution that works for you that also offers clear benefit to the company.
5. Spend time with people who appreciate you.
No matter how tired you are, you’ll likely feel re-invigorated by spending time with people you truly like, inside and outside work.
Identify (or return to) a few community groups, sports and other physical activities, and professional groups that appeal. Learn something new, if only by attending a lecture or exploring podcasts. This massive online learning course (MOOC) may perk you up. And, of course, quality time with your family and close friends is also soul-restoring.
6. Stay connected to what you truly want to do.
You don't have to love this job for it to still help you learn and grow. How have the frustrations and challenges of this job helped you clarify what you really want to do?
Think about how you can bring together what excites you from previous work and other activities and weave them into this job. Then explore what’s happening in fields that relate to your experience. Perhaps there's a way to do what you love from where you are (or perhaps you'll see your next career move and can begin moving toward it).
Move well into the future, by reading about the changing world of work, from independent contracting to the "Industries of the Future" by Alec Ross. Also, take a look at "Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World" by Adam Grant
7. Pamper yourself regularly.
Every week, do at least one thing that renews your energy. You don’t need to spend money or a lot of time. Perhaps just go for a long, slow walk in a beautiful setting, visit an interesting exhibit, have a good (non-work-related) conversation with a person you truly care about, cook a new, nourishing dish, or write an actual letter. Making time to recharge through a creative or energetic activity does wonders for your spirit and your overall outlook (making that "lousy job" not feel quite so terrible).
8. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
Take action to improve your current situation. Look at things from other people's point of view, not just your own. Also, you'll feel better instantly if you pause and reflect on what's going right in the current job. (I bet there is something going well). Then start taking one action step per week to improve the situation at hand. Reward yourself each time you do anything to this end, whether it’s conventionally successful or not.