If your job is sucking the life out of you but quitting tomorrow isn’t in the cards, here's how to make the best of it while you figure stuff out.

Sometimes work can feel like a bad marriage.

When you find “the one” on jobharmony.com, the thrill is almost overwhelming. You send in a resume and seduce someone into talking to you. You do the dance, sign the paperwork and raise glasses to what should be a beautiful relationship.

Then the honeymoon ends and you start to smell the office coffee — literally.

But sometimes leaving isn’t an option. Maybe you want to stay in your job (or that marriage?) for the money. Or because it’s helping you get where you want to be. Or because you’re not sure where to jump to.

If you hate your job but can’t quit (yet), here are four habits that will help you work through it:

1. Don’t wait for a pat on the back

Most people hate their jobs not because the actual work sucks, but because they don’t feel appreciated. (Especially women. Yes, I’m calling y’all out.)

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel wanted, but managers don’t really get paid to make people feel good — they get paid to produce results. In most organizations, results are measured in dollars and cents, not smiles and camaraderie. If you’re working hard because you’re hoping for a pat on the back somewhere down the line, you’re setting yourself up for disaster when it doesn’t happen.

Bottom line: Never do anything with an expectation to receive compliments.

Work as if you’re working for God himself and if a compliment comes out of that, great! If not, no problem. Cash your paycheck and keep it moving.

2. Take pride in your appearance

If you own your own business and dress casual, it’s called “genius” or “originality” or ”self-expression” or “edge.” But if you work for someone else and you don’t look professional, you’ll likely be seen as, well, frumpy.

When sitting in an office cubicle starts to feel like being in a prison cell, you owe it to yourself to at least look good while you’re serving your sentence. Maybe it’s shallow, but we feel better about ourselves when we look good.

Bottom line: Go out of your way to look good every day. You’ll walk taller, feel better and be less likely to stab someone with a pencil.

3. Get some good lovin’

No, not that kind. I’m referring to getting down to whatever makes you uniquely you — that thing you fall in love with every single time you do it (this still isn’t sounding right; maybe I should include examples).

It could be solo dance parties, knitting, tie and dye, opera or Grey’s Anatomy marathons. It’s tempting to want to spend every waking hour outside of work complaining about work to people on the internet — Don’t do it. Instead, make sure Facebook can’t supply any skank status updates that will eventually turn around to bite you where the sun doesn’t shine.

Bottom line: Balance job hatred with good lovin’ from something you deeply enjoy.

4. Make things happen

Action is much more efficient than hoping someone will notice the value you bring to the table.

Hate the cube? Ask for a new one. Hate that chair? Replace it yourself. Can’t stand your laptop? Buddy up with IT. Ready for a new challenge? Ask for a promotion or transfer.

It’s incredibly frustrating to want something and never get it — especially when it’s something you deserve. A word of caution on this though: make sure you’re actually producing the dollars and cents we talked about in No. 1, and be reasonable when making requests. There’s a mighty fine line between a polite, legitimate request and unearned whining.

Bottom line: If you want something and deserve it, take the necessary steps to make it happen.

It would be nice to just quit, find a new job or even start a business — and if you can make those happen, go for it!

But those options aren’t always as easy as they sound. So if you’re at your wit’s end at a job that’s sucking the life out of you, where quitting tomorrow isn’t in the cards, make the best of it while you figure stuff out.

I’m living proof that in due time, the sun moon and stars eventually line up.

A trilingual native of Lagos, Kola Olaosebikan has been traveling around the world and living independently since the age of nine. Keep a tab on Kola at Beta Motivation or check out a few pictures on her Facebook page.


  1. Whitney Parker

    This is a great article. I will add one more piece of advice that helped me get through a job I was ready to leave.

    Wherever you can, you should identify small victories or accomplishments that you can list on your resume. These aren’t goals that your boss necessarily wants you to do (maybe they are one in the same), but find things that will help to quickly build some bullets for your resume — especially in quantifiable ways. Take a moment to sit back and think want you want your resume to say about this job before you leave, and see if you can check off any more boxes that you wanted to do when you first started.

    It’s a way to make the job work more for you, when you’ve lost interested in working for it. Who knows, it may even revive your interest in the job when you realize that you can do more when you motivate yourself rather than looking for external validation. (Obviously that’s not the problem for everyone, but if it is, that can help!)

    • Kola

      thanks, Whitney! I’m glad you enjoyed reading the post. and i think you’re spot on with your suggestion. so glad you chimed in!

  2. Anonymous

    What is jobharmony.com? I looked it up, and it doesn’t exist. Were you creating a fake URL as a metaphor for something else?

    • Kola

      haha yes, it was part of the metaphor of finding “the one” (playing off of eharmony). now that you mention it, that wont be a terrible name for a job site now would it?

  3. Anonymous

    The more resumes you can get out there, the less stressed you’ll feel as well. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a bad job, other than being stuck in a bad job with no options on the horizon (or something to hope for, at least).

  4. Anonymous

    You make a good point about taking back the control, taking action – it’s really what you make of it. So long as you sit around waiting for praise, or for the right opportunity, you’re going to lack fulfillment in your career. It’s about positioning ourselves for success, and knowing what that means for us as individuals.

  5. Dimitrihouse

    You answer the question of how perfectly but what about the why?
    I agree that it isn’t always easy to quit but aiming to make it easier
    could just lead to more years of procrastinating.


  6. iMark Media

    I like your advice, but I will put it out there that while you feel you may not have a feasible option to leave, you need to do it. Life is short and wasting away at a job you hate ads nothing to your quality of life and can have a negative impact on your health.

    Nice tips though for that interim time while your stuck.

  7. MyOhMy

    There is NO good reason to stay in a job you hate even in these harsh economic times. Polish up that resume, gather the network, save some cash just in case and move on! Granted it’s rough transitioning to a new job, but it is so much more painful to remain in a bad situation.

    • guest

      I disagree, you may have no choice, if you have been at a job and forced into situations beyond your control, and you are close to retirement, and you leave, you risk losing what you have worked so hard to get, benefits. I am in a situation where I am close to retirement but if I were to leave just because I am not happpy anymore, I would lose my penison, but if I stick it out and just do what they expect of me, then I can retire knowing that I did the very best I could do with no regrets.

  8. Greg Miliates

    A bad job is actually GOOD for you, because you can use your negative emotions to propel you toward something better. Keep thinking about your lousy job each day, and you can motivate yourself to take actions every day that move you to a better situation. But taking action is what’s needed, and that doesn’t mean complaining–it means doing things that will move you in the direction you want to be.

    I made the transition from frustrated employee to satisfied business owner. I started a consulting business part-time, and built it into a full-time endeavor which is the sole income for my family of 4. I’ve QUADRUPLED what I used to make at my day job, and have much more flexibility.

    Consulting is a great way to get out of a crappy job, because a consulting business has:
    –>low start-up costs,
    –>flexible hours,
    –>a high hourly pay rate, and
    –>you likely already have the expertise to get started.

    Whether you decide to start your own consulting business as I and lots of others have done, you can use a bad job to propel you toward a better place. You can check out an interview I recently did where I talk about how I made the switch from employee to consultant, and where I talk about some of my initial fears and doubts:

    Greg Miliates

  9. Allyson

    Great tips, but I agree with the fellow below. If you hate your job, you need to find a way out sooner than later. It is bad for your health if you stay too long in a toxic environment. Most jobs are hated because of toxicity and shitty managers that are often unknowingly responsible for creating those environments. Crappy clients, customers and difficult co-workers (who aren’t axed by the leaders) don’t help either. I don’t agree with your first tip though to just accept that people aren’t going to appreciate you and to just get over it. Great leaders know that the best way to make No. 1 results happen is to appreciate their people, especially when they are working their asses off for the No. 1 results and making you, the leader, look good. I don’t know why so many people don’t get such an easy concept. If you’re not appreciated, leave, and go do your own thing or find people that value and appreciate you. Yes, you can do it even in a down economy. Life is short. Be happy.

  10. Jer2743

    Very true guidelines. I have followed them myself and still keeping my head up. I love the company but not the work. Also been trying to relocate to southern states for two years by applying as much as I could.

  11. CJ Johnson Writes

    You number 4 tip is “right on the money”
    Making things happen….is one of the key ways to “get through” a job you hate PLUS its more items of success that you can add to your resume or credentials to lead to a bigger fish (career opp).

  12. sivilce nasıl geçer

    i want to stick out my job pls help

  13. Curious one

    That happened to me many times, it’s so hard to keep a job you hate!!! I’ll try to follow your advices….hope they work for me!!

  14. Venta de Computadoras

    I remember that I had a friend who always said that he did not get off work until he was fired, so far has been 8 years waiting to be fired because he “hates” the job.

  15. The90thatmatters

    I think this touches on a number of good points. I would like to add that finding a venting partner works well. I recently quit my job. Its only been a few days but I am already enjoying it.


  16. Michelle

    Great advice, I remember being in a job a long time ago looking at the clock at 9.15am on a Monday morning and thinking how on earth I was going to get through the week, not good! However, feeling like that the only was is up or rather out!

  17. Jordan Thomas

    I find that in these instances being able to bring who you are and breaking your day up will help energize you and this helps a great deal when doing something you do not enjoy I wrote a post on this recently.

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  19. Steff@get-my-ex-boyfriend-back

    Hi Kola,

    Don’t we all feel trapped in a rut once in a while? It was especially hard for me when I was in my third trimester pregnant with my daughter. I’m so exhausted and is looking forward to the end of the day before it even starts. So I started to break down my work time to stages – morning coffee stage, toilet break stage, lunch break stage, meeting stage. Reaching each stage is easier to swallow and before I knew it, it’s 5 o’clock! Also, eating something you like and having some downtime at lunch is really important to keep one sane.

  20. Jeff Thomas

    It really matters if you have patience in that point of time. Sometimes the very things you love about your job can become the things you hate about it.

    But following these tips will get you through though. Thanks for the great read.

  21. Ginwiz

    You have no idea what you’re talking about. it’s not as simple as you think. You obviously never worked for a bully.

  22. Charlie

    Like my job and coe-workers it’s the managment that has no clue! or appreciation; my job provides financial security for a chain or other off sight workers; who roll in raises, cola’s and we get nothing!

  23. Lydia Dietrich

    I agree with Ginwiz…

    Kola Olaosebikian, you don’t know what it’s like to be trapped in a job you hate so profoundly that all you can think about doing with your free time is job hunting until the wee hours and your head pounds, and your eyes ache so deeply they feel like they’re about to fall out of your sockets. Add to the strain the reality that the job market is dry as hell and there’s no prospect or relief in sight, leaving you no choice BUT to give up whatever free time you have looking for your next ticket out of the place you wish you could watch burn if you knew you could get away with it. I’ve been there, and reading your advice makes me laugh. All you have to offer are “band-aid on a bullet wound” type solutions. There’s a point past past mere hate, it’s a point of no return called “burnout”, where no amout of vacation, “stay-cation” or “solo dance parties” that you suggest will relieve it…Where you’d STILL wish you could say “take this job & shove it” EVEN IF you were offered a raise, EVEN IF you got that “pat on the back” you claim we (especially females) really want, which btw, is BS…

    When you’re trapped in this state of mind, all free time will become is a countdown of time left until you have to go back to that GD place again. It’s a state of mind that imprisons you all through the day, on and OFF the clock. Thank GOD I finally got out, and it sure wasn’t by following advice like yours lol!

  24. Keith Franzen

    I hate my job more each day

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