Dealing with your Donkey (making the best of a bad career situation).

(My blog targets people outside of Recruitment. Nonetheless, I thought my colleagues would be able to relate and forward the advice along to those outside our realm.)

Does your current job situation leave you empty, defeated, angry, morally devoid, or just bored? Any of these feelings is sure to fuel the fire by tanking your job satisfaction and performance. What can be done?

The economy keeps popping cyanide pills and layoffs make the life of a lemming look much more desirable by the day. These factors aside, we still deserve to fundamentally enjoy where we toil. Some folks just render the "make the best of it" mantra, without actually telling you how to do so. I'll share what's helped me keep my sanity over the years.

1. Accept it & let go of it. If you feel like you're stuck on an insane merry-go-round with a job, boss, or colleague and there's nothing you can do to change things, repeat this to yourself: "I have been asking a donkey to be a horse." If despite your best efforts your job/boss/colleague has remained boring/dense/mean/lazy, drop the reins and leave the donkey to its own devices. There is nothing more you can do, so you now need to shift your energies to taking care of yourself and your career.

2. Allow yourself to complain...responsibly. Treat complaining like a vitamin; just have a little, controlled dose per day. I have implemented "Ten Minutes of Hate" into my daily routine (thank you, George Orwell). When I arrive home, I am allowed ten minutes to spew, vent, hiss, and rant over what kind of $^$*&%#^(*#&!! went on at my office that day. As tempting as it is to do this at work, do NOT do it! You can also schedule weekly get-togethers with friends where you can all share your war stories and try to help each other out (no pity parties, though).

3. Make the best of things (WTF?!). This means different things to different people. I like to reframe it by calling it "Mitigating the Misery." If you feel yourself building with rage in your cube, you at least have these little things to look forward to:

- Go to lunch with a different colleague outside of your department at least once per week (keep the complaining/gossip to a minimum!).

- Do something to raise office morale (yes, keeping them happy will also keep you happy). Take a garden gnome / Hawaiian Tiki, photograph it in a different place each week, and send to your coworkers (thank you, Amelie). You can have fun and gain more support from your colleagues. Just make sure you're getting your work done or it will seriously backfire!

- If work pays for school, go back for another degree or some personal/professional development courses. It's FREE, for crying out loud!!!

4. Set an egg timer on your job/career. If #s 2 & 3 aren't drowning out your screams of pain, put a real plan into motion. Give yourself 3-6 months or even a year to carefully make your next move. Use this time to:

-Create a LinkedIn profile and build up your network (see my previous entry on Networking).

- Research which jobs/companies are looking a little more stable than others (Networking/Word-of-Mouth).

- Build up your 'Oh, Poop!' financial fund (living expenses of at least 3-6 months' worth).
If you want to go back to school, start calculating your budget and see if you can return to school part time or full time, and what kind of job would be most convenient and beneficial to your new academic goals.

Knowing you have a time frame and holding yourself accountable to it help get you through the bleak days in your cube.

5. Remember, Donkeys are everywhere. These issues are in every job/workplace, in varying forms. Be proud of yourself that you've lasted long enough in your current job to read this blog and not rip all your hair out. Don't forget what you've survived, and remind yourself when meeting your next donkey that you've dealt with dumber, meaner, and uglier than this.

For further information and painfully funny stories of my own career struggles & triumphs, please visit my blog:

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