Four Ways Smart People Get Stuck in Lousy Jobs

Are you smart and capable and yet stuck in a lousy job? If so, we feel very sorry for you, but we’d like to let you know you’re not alone. AND there are effective ways to get you out of this predicament! Firstly, check out the most common ways people get stuck in jobs they hate, then take our advice and get yourself inspired and back on track to a fruitful career.

(1) It didn’t look that bad from the outside

It happens to the best of us… you’re fooled by an unusually high salary, or the promise of a progressive culture, or a charming hiring manager. Maybe the interview process was really easy and fast and you felt like you were doing great. But then maybe you realised that what you thought was a fun, exciting and promising role was really a dead end, painful position that now has you asking “how did I miss this”?

So now you’re in a job you hate or one that really just doesn’t deserve you. Perhaps you’ve ended up in a team that you don’t mesh with or with a manager from hell that everyone complains about. Well, they weren’t really going to promote that aspect of the role in the job description, were they?

Don’t feel bad if you end up in this situation. Sometimes you start a job and you know within a really short time that it just sucks and is totally not for you. Don’t waste your energy hating on your unfriendly co-workers or evil supervisor. They’re just doing their own thing and will probably fade from your memory soon. Your job now is to fire up that job search engine inside of you again and find a new role, this time with a little more experience under your belt that you can use to find a job that will be a much better fit.

(2) You thought there was potential to grow the role, but you were wrong

Ahhh… Another common misperception. Many people have convinced themselves that a job slightly below them or one that is not quite the perfect fit has potential to morph into something more exciting and fulfilling. Maybe this happened to you? You took the job, determined to impress your superiors so much with your new ideas that you could have a real impact?

Didn’t happen? Maybe it was too exhausting, maybe your efforts weren’t acknowledged? Maybe you were up against people or a culture that was resistant to change. You could spend the next 5 years trying to get your manager to see the brilliance in your ideas and recognise your potential, or you could cut your losses and try again in a new role.

If this happens to you, again, it’s not something to worry about. It’s a great learning experience. It probably took guts to step up and show them your vision. If they couldn’t see it then think of it as their loss. Don’t get stuck in the slow lane. Find a job where people appreciate what you have to bring to the table.

(3) You took a lousy job as a temporary way to pay the bills, but then it consumed your life

Another common scenario. For whatever reason, you just really need a job, like right now. You know you’re smart and capable so you plan on taking the first job you can get your hands on and then you’ll look for something better.

But then you start in the lousy job and suddenly it’s taking up all of your time and energy. You’re stressed out. This job wasn’t supposed to be important but now it’s using up all of your brain power and leaving you exhausted. When you get home each day the last thing you want to do is push your brain further by searching for a better job. It just seems easier to drink a glass of wine and try and relax enough to sleep so you can make it in tomorrow.

Don’t get stuck in this trap! You are better than this! So what’s the solution? You need to get excited about the possibility of an awesome job. Then use that enthusiasm to put in the time whenever you can to keep searching for a better job. How do you get your excitement back when you’re totally stressed out and run down? Grab a journal and write down one thing a night. Like what you want from your ideal job, or something valuable you’ve learned through this experience, or about a hurdle you’ve overcome (to build your confidence). You can take 5 minutes a night, right? Let your brain wander and imagine the perfect role. Your current job will be a distant memory one day, so it’s time to get excited.

(4) It met your needs at the time but now it doesn’t

Maybe when you started job searching you were just looking for something that would meet your basic expenses. Or maybe there was a particular yardstick you were aiming for, like a job title or appealing company culture.

So, your needs have been met. Now what? Have you discovered that even though your list of essentials was met back then, the role doesn’t have much else going for it? You might start thinking… well if I could choose another job, what else would I want? A good job needs to meet a range of criteria for you to feel truly happy and fulfilled in it. Plus you need to be able to see a clear path ahead of you for where you hope to eventually end up.

If you’ve found yourself in this situation then take some time and invest some energy in reflecting on what you want for your life. What kind of job would be a better match for that? If a job is simply not right for you anymore then get clear on what you really want to get out of your next one. Take charge of your career and your future.

No matter what the reason, if you are stuck in a job that’s draining the life out of you, there is always a way out. Take what’s happened with a pinch of salt and be grateful for whatever lessons you’ve learnt from the experience. Don’t let yourself get too settled or comfortable in a job that doesn’t light you up or doesn’t have potential. It is your life after all, time to get inspired by what’s possible!

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