I have been in corporate for 14 years now, and been in many different positions-ad account coordinator, program manager, order management, global supply chain, network services packaging, etc. All have their pros and cons as any job does, but sometimes a job’s cons actually start affecting your overall well-being.

That is where I most recently found myself after being employed at the same company for five years. I had taken on more and more responsibility, and the work was becoming so much like digging a hole in the sand at low tide, marveling at the work you did, only to watch it get erased as the tide came back in. This happened hourly, sometimes even within the hour, and I realized the woman I once was was drowning in that hole. Promises kept coming that there would be better opportunities, there would be better pay, they would “take care of me”, the situation could only last until the end of the year (that was 2020), and on and on it went. I am a dutiful person, and I often stay long past the time I knew I should have because loyalty or some crap like that (hey, I am working on it!)

So, what took me so long? I was waiting on the right time, which was literally a scaredy cat excuse as I know perfectly well there is NEVER a right time. There is only NOW, and thus I had to do it. I can’t espouse one thing and live another, so I leapt and I already feel like a different person! I no longer cry on Saturday because I know it’s about to be Sunday which is the precursor to Monday…true story-just ask my husband.

If you’re stuck in a job where you’re under-appreciated, feel like your soul is being sucked out of your body, holding your pee until it hurts because you’re on so many calls/under deadlines, losing the light in your eyes, your bones start aching and cracking because you feel like you can’t leave your chair since you have SO much to do, I wrote this for you to survive until you can make OTHER arrangements.

Please note this is not for long term success, although many of these tactics are great to use anyways, but it’s just to give yourself some breathing space to figure things out so you can make a MOVE to something more suited to your unique abilities. Here we go!

  1. Schedule in time for you to exercise or just BE. I started calling the 30 minute meeting MHM (my health matters) and it was on my calendar exactly like that. I scheduled it every day, and I would use it to walk, meditate, drink a cup of coffee, read a book. Basically ANYTHING but working. Set your phone to Do Not Disturb during this time. Treat it like a meeting with a customer and KEEP it.
  2. Set boundaries with peers and customers. If you didn’t start out doing this, this will likely be hard for you. You might even feel kinda bitchy at first but you will THANK ME later. Start with something small, like an internal meeting that is not really necessary and can be solved in an email. Politely decline OR suggest another convenient time that allows you to prepare. Other people’s emergencies due to lack of planning are not your problem nor are they generally your top priority (unless it’s your direct boss which is a different type of boundary setting scenario-see #3)
  3. Set boundaries with your manager. This one was the hardest for me because I grew up being taught to respect authority almost at all costs but have been bucking that subconscious albatross as I get older. My manager would often throw so many “important” tasks my way and give me same day deadlines I would feel bewildered and tired before 10AM. I learned to force him into telling me which were the most important. I would say something like “My plate is already pretty full with x,y,z for today. Which is the most important one or two I need to complete today?” This was helpful to keeping my work load manageable and the asks reasonable
  4. Learn to be OKAY with your inbox being full of emails that cannot be answered within a 24 hour time frame. There are some jobs where email traffic is minimal, some where it’s manageable, and some where people literally send them out to make it look like they’re busy…sigh.
  5. Make sure you are eating nutrient rich foods and drinking your water. You’re likely going to want to eat completely crap food because A) you’ll feel like you don’t have time to prepare anything healthy, and B) fried chicken, Mac and cheese, etc. will call your name because most people eat their emotions. Coffee will seem like the only saving grace, but you will also need water to combat that hardcore caffeine shake you’ve likely given yourself
  6. If you have a process in place, and people aren’t following it, PUSH BACK. I had people pretending like they didn’t know what our process was after two whole years of it being implemented AND the process was also documented in my email signature (that’s how ridiculous it was). They still played dumb, and I still asked them every time if they followed it….kick that email back over the fence and MAKE them follow the damn process
  7. Keep track of issues you’re experiencing via email to your manager BUT also suggest solutions in the email chain. This way they cannot say you were just a whiner with no intentions of making things better. You want to make sure they’ll miss you when you’re gone…even if you necessarily won’t miss them
  8. Start reaching out to friends, family, former colleagues and let them know you’re looking for something new. Make sure you specify what kind of work you’d really like to do so you don’t end up in a dead end situation again. Maybe nothing will come of it, but maybe something amazing will pop up!

I know leaving can be hard and the reasons why are numerous. You already KNOW if it’s time to leave, and it’s never going to feel just perfect. However, you owe it to yourself to be the best version of you every day. Once your job starts affecting your mental health, it’s time to reframe where you’re headed.

Let me know all about your hellish job in the comments below!