Sometimes you can’t leave a job even if it makes you miserable. Maybe you’re locked into a contract, maybe you need the benefits, maybe you need the salary (because the question “what would you do if money wasn’t an issue?” isn’t always a very practical one), maybe you know this miserable job is going to lead to your dream job.
Just do us a favor — make sure you do have a very real and good reason to stay and not because you’re scared of taking the leap that really needs to be made.
There are a ton of very real reasons — and not just excuses — as to why you can’t leave a job, but that doesn’t mean you need to double down in your misery. You can shift your mindset to hopefully make your day-to-day better.

  1. Stop judging

Once you realize how unhappy you are, it can be hard to see things from any perspective other than frustration. Any action or comment or request can be judged harshly.
Instead, try shifting yourself to be more observational. This means being more curious and open to another’s perspectives and needs. If someone asks something of you or makes a mistake that gets back to you, first ask a question, don’t make a declaration. That curious and open mindset will hopefully get you out of the emotional rut you’re probably deep into.

  1. Learn something new

When we feel stuck, it is easy to let inertia take over, to stay stuck. Don’t.
Find webinars or workshops to attend. Reach out to a department at work that has nothing to do with yours to understand how maybe it actually does have something to do with yours. Or at least to better understand the overall goals of your company.

  1. Bust out of your routine

Go to a different place for lunch or take your lunch to a different spot. (Most people eat at their desks. Isn’t that a little change you want to make?) Take walking meetings when you can or book a different conference room for a change of scenery.

  1. Make it a big experiment.

What would happen if you approached your work with fresh eyes? What systems and ways of doing things might you change if you really cared a little bit more? What would it be like if you spoke up a little more? What would it be like if you said a little less? Pick an area of yourself you’ve been wanting to work on– like active listening or strategic thinking– and try new ways of being on for size in that area. It’s amazing what can happen when you work on yourself and put new effort into old things.

  1. Change something else in your life.

Don’t get a new car just to fill the hole of unhappiness. Use this period of “I’m trading off happiness at work for XYZ” as a great motivation to feel fantastic in other areas of your life, like starting a new workout routine, or finally using that headspace app to meditate, or volunteering at that non-profit that matters to you.
All these things have a common theme: change. Change your mind, change your location, change your routine. The moral of the story is you don’t have to make “the big change” (quitting) in order to make a difference in the way you experience your day to day work.

Nora Philbin

Nora is a co-founder of Happy Spectacular, which she still can't really believe, and she's on a lifelong quest for the world's best cheeseburger (applicants accepted).