Ready to Quit? Try Fixing Your Job First

It’s one of those weeks – maybe one of those months – when you’re so overwhelmed and frustrated with work than you can barely see straight. Your inbox is swamped with inane requests, your boss just gave you a passive aggressive review, and if your coworker leaves her empty soda cans in the sink one more time you’re going to snap.

Sounds like you hate your job – or do you?

Although there are certainly situations where it’s time for a new gig, sometimes the problem isn’t inherent in the job. Sometimes your job situation is fixable.

If you’ve loved your job in the past and you normally enjoy the organization you’re working for, it may be worth the effort to salvage a frustrating situation.

Recognize that every job comes with a downside

I have a friend who’s always searching for the perfect job. But inevitably within a few months of starting a new dream job she becomes discouraged and starts the hunt all over.

The problem isn’t in the jobs she’s getting. It’s in her expectations.

There’s no such thing as a perfect job! Even the dreamiest of dream jobs have their downsides – the trick is to be realistic about the compromises you’ll be making, and adjust your expectations to match. Of course, I’m not saying that you should be satisfied with a bad situation. But don’t throw away a great situation simply because you think the grass may be greener somewhere else.

Do this: Take a hard look at what’s gotten you down about your job, and try to distinguish between things that are simply outside annoyances (an irritating coworker), and which are integral to your job. In other words, is it your job that’s bumming you out? Or is it things around your job?

If you’ve decided that you still really like your job itself, it’s time to minimize those downsides and turn your focus once more to the job you once loved.

Realize that you create your own mindset

If you’re frustrated with your job, it can be easy to complain about it to anyone who will listen. But surrounding yourself with negativity only breeds more negativity, and pretty soon, it becomes impossible to separate whether the feelings of frustration are being created by our job, or are being multiplied out of our negative outlooks.

If you believe there are no opportunities, you’ll be absolutely correct – because you won’t be able to see them.

If you believe your boss doesn’t trust you, you’ll be absolutely correct – because you’ll start acting in an untrustworthy way.

If you believe you’ll never get a promotion, you’ll be absolutely correct – because your negative attitude will keep you from being management material.

Solution: Look for the great things about your job, and try to stay focused on those. Make lists of your achievements, seek out more of the tasks you enjoy, and make an effort to ferret out good news instead of gossip when you’re talking with your coworkers.

Above all, be aware of when you’re making assumptions about your coworkers’ attitudes, or assuming a situation is bad before getting all the facts. Often when we get into negative mindsets about things, we make our situation worse by assuming things about others rather than actually talking with them.

Find room to grow

A major reason people start to feel unhappy in their jobs is that they’ve begun to feel stagnant. Maybe you’ve been passed over for a promotion, or maybe you’re just becoming bored by your job’s day-in-day-out tasks.

If that’s the case, try to figure out how you can grow. It may turn out that you’re truly in a dead end position, but often times you may simply not have explored all the possibilities.

Solution: Talk with HR and your boss about how to get where you want to be. If you’re honest and they’re receptive, hopefully together you can identify the skills you need to develop in order to grow. Armed with a plan, you may find your job a lot more palatable.

Recharge your batteries

Are you suffering from burnout? Maybe what you need is better boundaries, more breaks, or just a week of real vacation. As humans, we can only keep running pell-mell for so long before hitting a wall. Is your current desire to quit your job simply fueled by burnout?

It’s hard enough to unplug from work, but even more so if you’re starting to feel negatively about your job. Those frustrations can keep you up at night, and soon your work starts to creep over into other aspects of your life.

Solution: Take a break! Sometimes all you need is a good chance for self-reflection to help you gain clarity about your situation. Maybe your epiphany will be that you should quit after all – but it could also be that you are in the right place for now, and you may see the little changes you need to make.

Have you ever fixed a job instead of quitting? Tell us how in the comments.

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I was stuck in a job like that. Any attempt I made to improve it was thwarted by managers. I also had the bad habit of telling them the truth as I saw it and not what they wanted to hear (as though I was capable of knowing that – I’m autistic). After 12 years of searching, I found a new job where my skills are appreciated. I feel much better now.