How To Get Rid of Your Lousy Job Without Quitting

Posted by in Career Success, Personal Development | 14 comments

When we find ourselves in a situation doing work out of alignment with who we are it can be an awful experience.

It tends to color everything else in our lives.

Sunlight. Rishi Bandopadhay via Compfight 

However, sometimes the problem isn’t the job.

Sometimes the problem is us.

When I was working in a job that drained me both emotionally and mentally I would come home with, what my mom used to call, a B.A.

I know what you’re thinking.

Why were you carpooling with B.A. Baracus?

Although it would have been cool to ride share with Mr. T, I’m afraid it’s something worse.

A bad attitude.

I knew I had to make a change but I couldn’t figure out what to do or how to do it.

At the time I blamed my dislike for my job on the job. Certainly it was a stressful and emotionally draining job.

However, looking back I realize I was allowing my circumstances to dictate my level of happiness and enjoyment of life.

Since then I’ve gone on to discover, as Dan Miller says, “happiness is very much an inner game.”

When we allow circumstances to control our level of happiness we’re very vulnerable.

If our happiness and contentment is based on the sun being out we’ll find ourselves in trouble on a cloudy day.

When we decide in advance we’re going to be happy we have taken control of our mood and only we can decide if we’re going to be happy or not.

Now I’m not saying we can all just put a smile on our face and everything’s cool.

That seems a bit naive.

What I am saying is that we have control over how we look at our circumstances and where we focus our thinking.

So how do we change our thinking in order to handle the inevitable ups and downs of life?

Ask Better Questions

One of the best things we can do is begin to ask better questions.

A really great question we can ask ourselves when something negative happens is this (hat tip to Michael Hyatt):

“What does this experience make possible?”

Do you see the benefit of this question?

Asking this question moves you from thinking about the past – which you can’t do anything about- to thinking about the future.

Most times there are positive things you would never have experienced if you didn’t have the negative circumstance.

The challenge lies in being able to see those positive benefits even when you’re hurting inside.

Keep A Gratitude Journal

When you start writing down what you’re grateful for it shifts your thinking.

Changing your focus from what you don’t have to what you already have changes everything.

My wife recently wrote a children’s’ book and designed accompanying gratitude journals. As a result my family and I have started keeping a family gratitude journal.

I can tell you since we started this process I have felt more happy than I ever have in my life.

The same can happen for you.

Keep a gratitude journal for 21 days and see if you’re not more happy, productive, and moving closer to your career goals than you were before.

If you’re struggling with being able to enjoy your work it will be a life changing shift to move the problem from “out there” to “in here.”

You may still need to make a move to change careers if you’re work isn’t an authentic fit for you.

However, the good news is when it’s “in here” you’re the one who decides when the sun comes out.


Question: What’s another way we can focus our thinking on the positive?

  • Great question and post Adam – it’s definitely important to begin to change perspective and look at the future opportunities rather than stay mired in the past.

    • Thanks Ann. Yes, it really is astounding how our perspective influences our interpretation of an event or circumstance in our lives. We all create the narrative going on in our heads. When that narrative is trained to focus on positive things it can lead us toward new opportunities.

  • Adam,

    Great post! I love that question, What does this experience make possible?

    It is such a game changer as far as your personal perspective is concerned. Thanks for sharing.

    I also love the gratitude journal idea. Having an attitude of gratitude certainly changes one’s perspective in a positive way.

    Keep Pressing Forward.


    • Thanks so much Mark. Yes, that question is amazing. It really shifts our thinking toward the future possibilities rather than getting stuck on what is. The gratitude journal has really been amazing in my life and has really helped our family to focus on the positive.

  • This post is very timely for me. Over the next few weeks I will plan to keep this question at the forefront of my mind:

    “What does this experience make possible?”

    Recently I’ve been aware of jobs that other people do on a daily basis – things that would be even less of a good fit for me than my current job – this has made me thankful to realize that the grass really isn’t always greener on the other side. To be aware of some of the things other people do day in and day out, make me thankful for where I am now. This is not to say I won’t look for a better fit, but it helps to realize that where I am fits better than other jobs may.

    • It is really a great question Alana. I think it’s healthy to realize how good we have it even if we’re not completely satisfied with our work at the moment. I also think that’s why it’s so important to be investing in all the other areas of life and not just work (even though I think work is pretty important.) I know you are doing just that and are on your way to higher levels of success in all areas of your life.

  • Joe_Stickel


    Great post with some very useful ideas. I really like your suggestion of keeping a gratitude journal. It can be very easy to focus on the negatives in our lives.
    Keeping the journal can help shift our focus to the overlooked positives
    we experience but don’t appreciate because of our attitude.

    I’ve developed the habit of watching my thoughts and letting go of those thoughts that don’t serve me. Sometimes a bad attitude can sneak in when I’m not looking, but once I notice how I’m thinking, I just let it go.


    • That’s so right Joe. When we take a step back and observe our thought life we can take control of what we focus on. Those bad attitudes have a way of sneaking in when we don’t want them around. I love your last line – “I just let it go.” Words of wisdom. Thanks.

  • Great message Adam. I firmly believe that better questions lead to better answers. I think it is also important to reach out and connect with other positive people – a good friend who will provide a realistic, but positive influence – this can be invaluable!

    • Oh man Jonathan – that is huge. Yes, a good friend who is positive but realistic can make all the difference in the world. If you have those people in your life do not let them go. Those are the people who will help you grow and prosper. I pray for more of those kind of people in my life.

  • Great post. I love the ideas. I find that I often let the negative thinking creep in when I am around negative thinkers. I have been noticing this much more recently and try to walk away from the conversations as much as possible to not get sucked in!

    • Really good point Nick. It is hard not to get sucked in to the negativity of others. Walking away is sometimes the only thing we can do. Unfortunately I don’t think many people realize their negativity is impacting their life in a way where they are losing out on valuable relationships.

  • Adam, I enjoyed this post. I am focusing on an attitude of gratitude to change my perspective. It is so easy to allow internal and external negative and pessimistic conversations keep us in funk. I have begun to connect with positive people that have a progressive mindset.

    • That is fantastic Bernard. Spending time with positive people will lift you up quickly. It’s hard to be negative in a room full of positivity. I know you’ll achieve more and be happier in the process.