Try Me: I Hate My Job, What Do I Do?


Welcome to “Try Me.,” Elite Daily's new advice column that shares the tough love your friends are too afraid to give you. You've got questions and we've got answers.

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Happy New Year…

I have been stuck in a career rut for the past few years. I don't like my job, and I can't get over it using the excuse, “But at least it pays well” because it doesn't. On top of that, I just don't enjoy what I'm doing.

Since I'm strapped for spare cash, I'm not able to pursue the things that make me happy, like traveling, going out and learning new things. I can no longer be happy for my friends because I'm jealous and upset that they're able to do those things I can't.

Every birthday that passes is another reminder that I'm nowhere near where I want to be. I've started avoiding my friends' parties because it's too painful for me.

I've met with career advisors. I have a very good vision of what I want my career and life to look like. I guess I'm just having a hard time finding positions and knowing where to start to achieve these goals.

In the past, I have been very good at getting what I want after hard-work and determination. Now, why, is there this halt? I have an impressive degree and I still can't land a dream job, or at least one that pays well and involves a lot of travel.

Every year that goes by without a step forward chips away at my confidence and self-assurance. I'm ready to throw in the towel and just give up on setting big goals. Maybe that's not for me.

I feel very lost. How can I get back on track?



Dear Unhappy New Year,

In order to make this year a better one, you're going to have to admit to yourself two things: One, that you need to change some things. And two, that up until this point, you haven't been doing a very good job of it.

Searching for a new job is, yes, extremely tough. I've been there. The editor next to me was there three weeks ago. My roommate has been there for six months. It's practically a full-time job in itself. But we'll get to that part later.

I'm a big believer in energies and The Universe. What I want to say first (it also happens to be a personal mantra of my own) is that what you put out in this world, you get back in return.

Right now you are putting out signs of worthlessness and dread, and you are most certainly getting that back. You're spiraling in your misery and now it's become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What would happen if you projected a different image out there? One that looks like relentless hard work, unwavering spirit and a good attitude overall? You might not land your dream world, but you'll definitely feel better about living in it.

You can't change the fact that your life isn't where you want it to be right now, but you don't have to make it worse by indulging in these sucky feelings about yourself.

Because you don't suck, Unhappy New Year. You're just dissatisfied and feeling low. But those feelings are -- stay with me -- good. It means you're open for change.

It means you're tired of being miserable and you're ready to be on the incline again. Remember like any hill, though, coming back up is harder than coming down.

Another piece of advice to help you bounce back: Stop comparing yourself to your friends. Instead of being jealous of their good fortunes, harness their happiness and share in it.

When you're constantly comparing yourself to someone who has bigger, grander things than you -- you are setting yourself up to not match up. I guarantee you feel worse right now, ostracizing yourself and building them up as the enemy in your head, than you would if you surrounded yourself with people whom you enjoy.

In the meantime, find free or cheap things to do that make you happy. You say you like dancing -- go out to a rowdy bar or dance hall where admission is free and let loose.

You like learning new things -- go to YouTube and find a free documentary or tutorial or DIY of your choice, or scour the Internet reading about things you're interested in. You like traveling? Go outside to the dog park or pick a walkable, free destination (like a museum) and take an alternative route with your headphones in to get there.

I'm not sure of the field you want to be in (travel + salary = sales? marketing? events?), but it could be that unlike your friends, who maybe are working in less competitive industries, you just have to work extra harder.

No degree can teach you about the unfairness in life. No degree can teach you how to run your life, either. Stop thinking a piece of paper is all you need. In today's society, it's merely the first step.

You say every birthday that goes by is another painful reminder. Here's another piece of advice I'll share with you that I also tell myself. Stop setting deadlines and start setting due dates. The difference is that the latter forces you to deliver. It forces you to move forward on initiatives.

Climb the stairs. Don't be above the effort. Remember that hill? It's always present no matter what stage in life you're at.

But nobody tells us these things. Nobody tells us how hard it is for some (making it even harder when you look at those who it comes easy for). You're really not alone.

Now let's talk more about your career:

You say you don't know where to start. Don't be afraid to try something different out and then look for something else if it's not right. I had no idea how to become a writer out of college.

So I took a job in finance and got paid while figuring it out. Sometimes you'll take steps that look like they're taking you backward, but in the bigger picture, they moved you forward.

To get to your goals, you have to take detours. It's not one straight path anymore in today's job market. People land jobs in many different ways. (Check out our “I Want Your Job” series.)

It's hard to accept that an impressive degree will only get you so far in this day and age. You are relying on a title you earned years ago to define who you are years later.

You have to start small. Find a job that either pays well or one that involves travel, to at least nail down one aspect that makes you happy. Don't rely on just your degree to get you there.

Rely on what you've learned at your current job, your innate strengths, your street smarts. If you don't believe you are an ideal candidate, no one else will.

Another tip: Put yourself out there instead of holing up and missing your friends' parties. That is where you will meet successful people your age. That is where you make the connections and do the networking. Basically, you need to do the exact opposite of what you're doing.

You're not alone. We actually have. all. been. there. (says with dread). And we can all share the agonizing stories of finding a job.

From this letter, it sounds like you've already given up. Somewhere along the way -- maybe six months, one year, two years into the job search -- you gave up. You got discouraged. It happens.

It's a harsh reality of living in the land of dreams -- sometimes, you have to momentarily suspend the big dreams and work to make the smaller ones happen first.

They'll build on each other to eventually get you there.

I'll say it again, getting a job isn't easy at all. Don't be afraid to start small or take something that is close-but-not-quite-the-best-fit, but has mobility.

There are so many ways to go up the ladder these days that it looks more like a ski mountain -- you take your own turns and curves and your own time getting to home base.

Now let's talk about you and change:

The first thing you need to do is not make your life completely about the things you don't have. Remember you have your health. You have some semblance of a job that is allowing you to live. You have friends, even though you choose not to acknowledge them. That is more than most.

Now use what you have to get what you want.

Don't give up on setting those big goals, make smaller ones to get there. You never know, you may find you really love something else a lot more and then change your sights again. Life is fluid.

Part of that journey on what they call “finding yourself” is getting lost. Embrace it, New Year. Embrace that you have this time to make mistakes and try new things and end up in a place totally different than what you imagined. All those things will make the path you need to go on more clear.

It's easy to say you feel useless and even easier to sit back and do nothing about it. Time doesn't chip away at confidence, the things you say to yourself do.

You have to be your own cheerleader. And in the meantime, know that everyone else in your life (including me) is rooting you on.

Rah-rah with love, LARG

Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is depressed or in need of serious help, please do not hesitate to talk with a professional and find the counsel you need. The following organizations offer support: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, HelpGuide, The Samaritans or see a specialist. Most importantly, remember, you are NOT alone.