Professional Development

11 Tips for Surviving a Miserable Job

Written by Peter Jones

Work is work, not play. That’s why it’s called work. But there’s a difference between work being work and having to work a really miserable job.

We’ve all been there. Here are 11 ways to tough it out in a job you hate—at least until you can get another one.

1. Vent it Out

As long as you don’t do it at the office or with your coworkers or too publicly (ahem, on social media), it can be a really good thing to rant and rave and get your feelings off your chest rather than letting them fester. If you’ve already annoyed your friends with your work gripes, try a forum like

2. Realize it’s Only Temporary

You’re only stuck there until you can find another job. Start looking. The average number of jobs a typical worker has in their career is growing to five. And there is no longer a stigma about switching jobs or careers like there used to be. Get out there and start working on your resume and soon this bummer job will be way in the past.

3. Make Time for Yourself

All work and no play will make you miserable, no matter what your work is. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and taking time to do things you find enjoyable. If you build these activities into your day, it’ll be a lot easier to get through.

4. Find Something Fun in Your Workday

Give yourself a daily treat at the office, whether that’s listening to music at your desk, buying yourself a snazzy lunch, keeping track of your sports team, playing the occasional round of chess against your computer… just something to break up the day. Find something you like that will give you a few minutes of fun among the drudgery.

5. Keep Laughing

Your sense of humor is your best friend in rough times. Don’t lose sight of it. Sometimes laughter really is the best medicine. Find a way to keep a hold on perspective and keep laughing. Your situation is manageable and can be changed. Just keep your chin up and stay positive.

6. Focus on Your Real Life

Chances are you have plenty going on outside the office. Put your main focus on that stuff for a change. Don’t take your bad job home with you; leave work at work and make sure your outside life is rich and rewarding. And fun.

7. Try to Do Better

If you hate your job, it’s probably really hard to motivate yourself to excel. But being better at your job will actually help you move jobs—whether up the ladder at your current company, or to another one entirely. Put your hating energy into working harder and your problem might just solve itself.

8. Don’t Screw Up

You hate your job, but the last thing you want to do is get fired. Be doubly careful not to put your job in jeopardy while you’re figuring out what to do next. Whatever you do, don’t let your performance slip. You’ll probably need a reference.

9. Organize a Fun Night Out

Get your coworkers to all go bowling, or to a movie, or to have a potluck picnic in the park. Chances are they’re probably as miserable as you are on the job. Get together, share some laughs, and feel a little better about life.

10. Get Help

Workplace stress can be a major factor in depression. Check to see whether your company has an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) and get some professional help to see you through. A happy worker is more productive, obviously. Plus, it never hurts to talk things out with the pros.

11. Be Patient

Your bad job sucks, but you only have to cope long enough to find a new job. Devote yourself to that, but leave the rest of it at the office. You can get through 9-5 every day for a few weeks until you find something new. Hang in there.

About the author

Peter Jones