There isn’t much that’s more difficult than getting through the week when you’re absolutely, positively unhappy with your job.
And while that’s true for everyone, it’s especially true for lawyers, whose weeks are typically much longer than the average professional’s.
The fact of the matter is, plenty of lawyers are extremely unhappy in their jobs, yet for one reason or another, can’t quit right away. It’s tough to be over-stressed by a heavy workload, challenging clients, and demanding partners while also being seriously unhappy.
So, what can unhappy lawyers do when they’re stuck in a job they hate? It starts with prioritizing self-care. Here are five strategies for coping with a job that makes you miserable before you’re ready to write that resignation letter.
Talk it Out
Don’t underestimate the power of a good venting session with a close friend, family member, or counselor. Rather than keeping your feelings bottled up inside, talking them out with someone you trust can help you gain perspective, remember that you’re not alone, and just feel better overall. Chances are, giving voice to your feelings about being unhappy with your job will take a great deal of weight off your shoulders. It should go without saying, however, that you should never vent on social media or at the office where you risk being overheard.
Take Care of Yourself
Self-care is always important, but it’s especially important for unhappy lawyers who are miserable at work. Remind yourself that your current situation isn’t permanent, but in the meantime, do your best to take care of yourself both mentally and physically. Prioritize making time for the things that make you happy. Spend time with friends, go to the gym, eat well, and do the things that make you feel whole. While you might not be able to fit those things into your actual workday (even happy lawyers are pressed for time), you should make your best effort to find time for them every day.
Treat Yourself During the Workday
You’re probably unable to engage in your absolute favorite activities during the workday, but you can practice self-care in other ways on the job. Consider small things that bring you joy—fresh air, perhaps, or crossword puzzles or cold brew coffee from the shop around the corner. Then, reserve time to treat yourself to those things throughout the day. Punctuating your workday with the little things you love gives you things to look forward to and can help make getting through the day more bearable.
Do Your Best Work (Really!)
Motivation can be hard to come by when you’re unhappy with your job. However, you may be surprised to find the effect a positive outlook and dedication to your work can have on your overall emotional state. Approach each day as a chance to improve your skills or get better at something you want to do more of in the future. You’ll be impressed by how much better you’ll feel than if you take on your morning commute with a sour attitude. Plus, strong work will help you find your next career opportunity—which will help solve your unhappy-at-work problem.
Make a Plan
When your job makes you really, truly unhappy, it can be challenging to push aside feelings of powerlessness. After all, slogging through day after day feeling stuck isn’t good for anybody. This is why it’s critical to take control of your situation in any way you can, starting with making a plan for getting out of the job that’s making you miserable and into something that’s a better fit. Start by making a to-do list of the steps required to achieve a better professional situation. Then, put your plan into action. Regaining a sense of control might not make your current job better, but it will help you feel a little less hopeless as you plan for your next role.
Try to Stay Positive
To the best of your ability, try to reframe your attitude. It isn’t easy, but approaching every day with the most positive attitude you can muster will have a big effect on everything you do. Yes, “stay positive!” is a cliché much easier said than done, but it’s a good first step to improving a tough situation.
If you’re unhappy at work, take the next two weeks to make a plan to find a new position at the same time you’re working on self-care while you’re still at your current job. Start being intentional about small things you enjoy throughout the day, vent to friends while enjoying much-needed social time, and be sure to include movement in most of your days.