by Niall Doherty

I was in a coffee shop recently and overheard two employees conversing. One sighed and said to the other, “I can’t wait for the weekend to get here. Three whole days off!”

It was Tuesday.

“Instead of wondering where your next vacation is, maybe you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” – Seth Godin

It saddens me that there are so many people in the world working jobs they hate, always waiting for the weekend. We spend a huge chunk of our waking hours working, and so methinks it’s a good idea to be doing work that you love. Or, at the very least, work that doesn’t make you want to slash your wrists.

But it’s easy to get stuck in a shit job, to feel like you have little choice but to stay there and endure the misery. Hopefully this post will convince you otherwise.

You have four options

If you hate your job, the first thing you need to realize is that you have options.

Really, you do. Four of them:

  1. Do nothing and continue to hate your job.
  2. Lie to yourself and pretend everything is peachy.
  3. Take action to make the job more enjoyable.
  4. Quit.

I suggest you pass on option one. Not only will it lead to indefinite unhappiness (and often stress), but it makes you a coward as well. Option two is also pretty lame. With that you’re just ignoring the problem, closing your eyes and sticking your fingers in your ears. It might work for a while, but eventually you’ll crack.

The last two options are pretty good.

Option three is to shake things up from the inside. You can have an honest and frank conversation with your boss about what you feel needs to change in order for you to be happy working there. Then you can get busy making those changes happen, being a part of the solution. A different approach and a little moxie might be all that’s standing between you and a happy work life.

But let’s say you can’t affect any kind of positive change in your current job. That leaves you with option four…

Quitting smart

I recommend having an escape plan. Quitting on a whim might be right for some people, but you give yourself a much better chance of landing on your feet if you think ahead and get a few wheels turning before jumping ship.

First thing: Give yourself a deadline for calling it quits. This will make each remaining day at your current job a little easier. You can swallow your pride and get some kick-ass work done because you’ll know where the finish line is. It also forces you to figure out your next steps.

Second: Start getting your finances in order. Try to save up enough money so you can go an entire year without any income. This goes hand in hand with slashing your expenses. You can live on very little money once you know your priorities. And your main priority should be to not spend 2000 hours a year working a job you hate.

Next: Work harder. Work harder at that current job you hate, because you can’t just magically flip a switch and pick up good work habits when you finally find a job you love. Birth those habits right now, where you are. You also need to work harder on yourself, but let’s talk about that under a new heading…

Finding work you love

Regardless of whether you want to become self-employed or remain an employee, you’re going to have to hustle. Big time.

Spend all your free time building up your skillset. Get a web presence and work at becoming renowned for your expertise. You’ll be able to leverage this later, when you really need to attract clients or employers.

If you don’t yet consider yourself an expert at anything, figure out what you want to be good at and then dive right in. Embrace the suck. Keep showing up every day and experiment like crazy. Take what works and throw out the rest. You’ll get there eventually.

And remember: expertise is relative. You don’t have to become the best in the world overnight. You just need to know enough to help others who know less than you.

If you’re looking to land a new job, don’t just send out a hundred resumes and hope someone takes a bite. That’s probably how you ended up in your current shit job.

Instead, get specific about who you want to work for. Learn as much as you can about them. Learn what problems they have and figure out how you can be the solution. No worries if they’re not hiring. Prove your worth and they’ll make room for you. Smart companies hire great people, because they know that people are their most valuable asset.

Finally, start networking like crazy. I know some folks want to be covert about looking for a new job, worried that they might piss off their current employer. I guess you have to suss that out for yourself, if you really need the money and can’t risk losing the steady income just yet. But if you can put the word out there, all the better. The more people you have in the know about your search and aware of your skills, the easier it will be to find work you love.

If all else fails…

I found myself stuck in a pretty shit job in Ireland seven years ago. I wasn’t much of a go-getter and I didn’t have much in the way of marketable skills. So what did I do? I quit my job and found another. The new gig wasn’t any better. In fact, the pay was less and the boredom was more. But there was one key difference: I had moved to a foreign country.

In my experience, getting away really shakes up your worldview and helps you figure out what to do with your life. So, if all else fails, go abroad. Save up enough for a plane ticket and secure a job, any job, even if it means taking a few steps down the career ladder.

Had I not packed my bag seven years ago and wandered off to a foreign country, there’s a good chance I’d still be working a job I hate. Instead, I love what I do, and you’ll never find me wishing for the weekend on a Tuesday.

Have you ever worked a job you hate? What did you do about it?

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