Surviving a Miserable New Job: Research-Based Tips

Unfortunately, sometimes we realize too late that we may have jumped from the frying pan into the fire when it comes to leaving an old job and taking a new one. What we thought was going to be a “dream job” or vastly improve our quality of life has instead turned out to be a disaster. If we’re not careful, that realization can cultivate chronic misery and resentment that simply makes a bad situation worse. Thankfully, there are a few things we can do to help us survive, and even possibly thrive, until a better opportunity comes along.


1. Choose to take a positive perspective.

While this may feel difficult, it’s important to realize that you have the choice to stew in the situation or to embrace it as an opportunity to learn from the mistake. Rather than viewing yourself as a victim of “bad luck,” take the time to take stock of what you may have learned from the experience.

For example, did you ignore red flags that you shouldn’t have because the salary or the hours seemed so great? Were you too fast to take the leap? Did you have a lack of clarity about what you really want or need from your work life? If so, this is the perfect time for more careful reflection to ensure that the next job you take is a great match for you.


Taking this approach helps to keep you out of a place of feeling like a victim of external forces and puts you more firmly in the driver’s seat of feeling in control of your own life. This is referred to as an internal locus of control. Studies show that people who have a more internal, rather than external locus of control tend to experience less depression and anxiety.

2. Practice finding humor in each day.


Humor has powerful effects on our minds and bodies: Laughter releases dopamine, increases blood flow, strengthens the heart and is a good way to cope.


Rather than brooding about was annoying about your workday, take the time instead to write down three funny things that happened or that were fun or pleasant. This exercise has been shown to reduce depression and improve happiness for up to six months even after just one week of practice:


Take 10 minutes each evening to write down the three funniest things that you saw, heard or experienced. Write out what was funny about the situation or event in as much detail as possible and write about how it made you feel.


3. Don’t Mentally Check Out of the Job.


Even if you think that your new job is a colossal disaster, try to remain open to the possibility that things may improve. It may just be that your job has a big learning curve and you are stressed with all the new information or that the company is going through a temporary change that is causing disruption. Either of these conditions can lead us to what might be a premature conclusion. You may find that in just a few more months things look and feel very different. In the meantime, show up each day with the mindset that things could improve and do your best to contribute to that effort.


Harness Visualization Techniques to Leave Work at Work.


Visualization can be a powerful technique to use to help your mind re-regulate when you have had a particularly bad day at the office. As you walk out of the office at the end of the day, imagine yourself setting down baggage and leaving it behind. Or imagine being washed off by a refreshing spring shower. Sometimes, it’s helpful to literally “shake off” the feelings by shaking the arms and legs and leaving the toxic feelings behind so that you don’t carry them with you into your home and into your family time.

Many of us have made the mistake of taking a job that just isn’t a good fit for us. But if you find that this is more of a pattern, rather than the exception for you, you may want to consider seeking out the services of a qualified career counselor who can help you to identify career occupations that best align with your values and vision for an ideal work life.