In a bad job? Here’s how to cope until you find a better one.

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Sooner or later it happens to everyone: you find yourself in what can only be called A Bad Job.

Sometimes you’re misled into accepting a position that’s not what you thought it was. Sometimes a previously decent situation turns sour after a merger or reorganization. Sometimes you accepted a job you knew would be less than ideal, counting on it to be short term, but it hasn’t worked out that way. Whatever the case, you’re suffering.

You may want to just say, “Stuff it,” to your turkey of a job. But even in a strong employment market, it’s a wise idea to have a new position lined up before leaving your old one. Until then, here are some things you can do right now.

    • Identify something, anything, that’s good about your job, write it down, and post it where you can see it every day. Even better, look for ways to enhance that one good thing.
    • Get plenty of sleep, eat healthy food, exercise and spend lots of time with loved ones doing fun activities. Oh, and do step away from your workplace during breaks and lunchtimes.
    • Complaining can be cathartic, but it also keeps your focus on the negative. So set limits to your kvetching. Say, 15 minutes a day.
    • Log your successes. You’ll need this information for your résumé anyway. And listing your positive accomplishments is a good reminder that your time isn’t being wasted.
    • Identify the specific qualities that make your job a bad one and seek ways to resolve them. You won’t be able to fix them all. But even little improvements make a major difference.
    • Refuse to allow yourself to be defined by your place of employment. Yes, work is a big part of our self-identity. But sometimes you need to step back and remind yourself that it’s just a job.
    • Make a plan. Decide on an end date and create a “quitting time line” around it. Every single day, take a concrete action, even a small one, to find a new and better position.
    • Finally, thank your co-workers. These are the people who toil in the trenches alongside you; they deserve your gratitude. It’s Thanksgiving, after all! Plus, turning your attention to others takes your mind off your own misery.
    • Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at