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Tips, please, for sticking at a job that’s become miserable

(13 Posts)
splendidspuds Mon 26-Aug-13 16:21:51

Hi. I'm wondering if anyone can help me with how to get into a more positive mindset about my job, which is really getting me down.

Firstly, I can't change jobs - yet. At the end of the year, when (hopefully) DP comes out of the probationary period of a new job, we need to make a pressing mortgage application, and we'll need both our incomes for that, so I need to stick with this job for at least another five months. But in the meantime, I'm feeling increasingly miserable about work, to the extent that I feel I'm becoming a bit depressed - so I need some strategies (please!) to help me get into 2014, still in this role, feeling better about it than I am at the moment.

I've worked happily enough in this job (a target-driven job in the voluntary sector) for three years, but there are four things I've been struggling with in recent months:

(1) My target has been set at a figure 70% higher than average for my role, I have no idea how to meet it (I think I can do better than average - just not by that much) and I feel set up to fail, which I find highly demotivating. I want to finish the year feeling like a success.

(2) My newish boss is hell to work with, warm one minute and icy the next, snapping at and humiliating us in front of other team members - we're walking on egg shells at work, plus the office has been reorganised and I now sit right next to her, right in the thick of this edgy dynamic.

(3) Our new boss doesn't seem very confident in us either, judging by how she talks to us and certain comments she makes about our work, and this is sowing seeds of self-doubt in my mind - I used to think I was quite good at what I do, but now I can feel my self-confidence ebbing away, which I worry will make it harder for me to find another job.

(4) The team has been increased three-fold, and although the people who've joined us are lovely, my job is research- and writing-focused, and so I'm finding the noisier open-plan office hell for concentrating; I go home overstimulated and depleted and flop on the sofa, drained, for the rest of the evening.

There are definitely some positives about the job: I work with some lovely people (apart from my boss!), it's fairly nearby, it pays well enough - and of course I'm lucky to have a job at all; I realise that. But despite trying to focus on the good things, I'm still waking up with an awful sinking feeling in my stomach. I've spent most of this long weekend moping about work, and have turned down a few social invitations because I'm just not in the mood; I seem to have no energy for anything, am not interested in catching up with people because I feel miserable, and am feeling increasingly wobbly about my capabilities. I really don't want to go back in tomorrow, but of course I must.

Any advice on how I stick with this at least until the New Year and get into a better mental state about it? Thanks so much.

dontsqueezetheteabag Mon 26-Aug-13 16:25:43

Splendid..... I am feeling your pain. No words of wisdom from me but I will be watching with interest.

Hate my job but planning on ttc next month so a bit loathed to look for something else but also know that I will struggle to stay here for much longer.

CinnamonAddict Mon 26-Aug-13 16:29:31

Could you work from home one day a week?
That would take a bit of the stress due to the work environment away and you would only see your boss 4 days.

ElephantsEye Mon 26-Aug-13 18:48:47

Sounds like you have a lot on your mind. Can you tackle these one at a time?

Start with a meeting with whoever set your target - find out why it was set at that level. How do they think you can meet it? Do you agree with them? If you can meet it only by not doing something else, you need to make this clear. You might need to go back later, armed with facts, to put them in front of your boss in a non-confrontational way. Perhaps your 'newish' boss doesn't appreciate all the things that you do or how much time and effort it takes, for example.

Second, perhaps you boss is feeling stressed and uncertain in her new job? Could you offer to help her with anything to relieve her load? Unlikely given your unreasonable target but it might make her treat you differently.

If working from home or booking into a meeting room from time to time isn't possible, are you allowed to listen to an iPod/MP3 player at work? Open plan can be distracting, as I know, and sometimes a soothing instrumental screens out the jabbering. I know a colleague who just wears big earphones so people don't disturb him.

Let us know how you get on.

Chottie Mon 26-Aug-13 20:56:55

Can you put your work in a compartment in your mind? so that when you are not at work you don't think of it. Make sure you have nice things planned so you have something to look forward too.

Huge sympathies from me, I am in a similar situation.

splendidspuds Mon 26-Aug-13 22:43:05

dontsqueezetheteabag, I'm sorry you're feeling this way too. It sucks, doesn't it? DP and I have talked about TTC possibly next year, but our priority is sorting the mortgage first - but for both reasons, at least financially speaking, it makes sense to stay put if possible. I can relate to your conundrum.

CinnamonAddict, that's a good idea - thanks. We need to be in the office at the moment while new team members settle in, but I think my boss might be amenable to this in time.

ElephantsEye, the target's immovable. It's been set because that's what the organisation needs - not on the basis of what might typically be considered achievable in my line of work. Senior managers have no idea how I'll do it - it's a case of this is what we want, we don't want to hear negatives, the organisation depends on it - now off you go. I've tried, carefully, to explain how challenging this is and why - my boss can see that to a degree, but she 'owns' our collective team target and so is under pressure herself. She just wants us to get on with it. That answers your other question though: yes, she's under pressure too. I'm helpful and offer to do things - but in the main, need to focus on my work due to the scale of the task in hand. I'm finding it hard to focus as it is - I feel in a flap because I feel that what's expected of me is unrealistic and I don't know quite where to start.

Again, good idea about working from home - and I've recently bought some headphones, as you suggest! I don't want to appear antisocial, but needs must. Thanks for posting.

Thanks for your post too, Chottie. I'm rubbish at compartmentalising like you suggest - if my boss snaps at me, or I have an unproductive day, I find it hard not to dwell on this when I get home. I think I need to try harder though! Sorry to hear you're feeling miserable about work too; I hope your situation gets better soon.

Thank you all again for posting. Good just to get a bit of support.

Rockchick1984 Tue 27-Aug-13 09:56:24

I used to be rubbish at shutting off from work stress when I got home, but a good tip that I was given is to have work clothes which you only wear for work. As soon as you get home have a shower or bath and put on non-work clothes. Tell yourself you can only think about work while you're dressed for work. If you have a stressful day and want to come home and talk or think about it, don't have shower until you are ready to put it out of your mind.

Took me about a fortnight, but it really does work!! Sadly not now that I'm a SAHM!

somuchhassle Tue 27-Aug-13 10:12:09

Lurking for ideas for my dh, his job effects him in.his free time, so.sad.

somuchhassle Tue 27-Aug-13 10:12:47

Lurking for ideas for my dh, his job effects him in.his free time, so.sad.

OvertiredandConfused Fri 30-Aug-13 09:12:01

I've been there before - and am to a certain extent now. I have a senior management job in the third sector and began my working life as charity fundraiser so I think I understand the environment.

Personal stuff first. Definitely get changed when you get home from work. Brush your hair and take off your make-up - even if you put more on again. Literally wiping away the day is very therapeutic. If you find yourself thinking abut work at home a lot, come up with distraction tactics. If necessary, have a notebook where you jot ideas / things you've remembered / work-related anxieties but DO NOT action them until you are at work.

Set yourself some achievable targets and make sure you aren't thrown into a flap by unreasonable demands that result in your under-achieving against what is possible.

Give your boss regular updates not just on progress to target but on work plans to demonstrate proactively that you are doing everything you can. Explicitly ask, preferably by email, if there is anything else she thinks you should be doing. If you are asked to do something that takes you further away from achieving your targets, make sure you explain the consequences of the additional activity.

Finally, always have an exit strategy. I totally understand why you need to tough it out if you can. But you need to have a line, agreed with DP, that if crossed means you move jobs now / resign. Some things are even more important than a new mortgage. My health suffered hugely. I ended up with no choice but to resign with immediate effect and no exit plan. We're still picking up the financial pieces 2.5 years later. This could've been avoided if we'd recognised that we needed to reassess and re-prioritise much sooner.

Good luck

Blankiefan Fri 30-Aug-13 21:58:28

You should try accepting all of the parts of your choice. The positives need to be front of mind for you and you should recognise that you've decided these outweigh the frustrations.

Try to make your positives as real as possible in your head (staying in the house you love, family stability, what financial security means to you in tangible examples, etc, etc). Write down a list of all of the positive things you are getting from this choice. Read it when things are tough at work.

If you can accept that it's a choice you are making, that may help you feel more in control.


OrangeClouds Fri 30-Aug-13 22:01:19

Great post blankiefan

Blessyou Fri 30-Aug-13 22:25:07

You have my sympathies. I am in a stressful work situation too. You have had some great advice on this thread, some of which I can use too.
Thanks thanks

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