Is there a path out of this job I'm not seeing?
February 8, 2011 7:16 PM   Subscribe

I made a big mistake, and took a job I now realize was an extremely poor fit. I'm having a hard time keeping out of tunnel vision of despair - help me think of more options than I can by myself.

My question is similar to this one except I already left, and they already filled my old position. I feel like I made a big mistake taking the new job, it's getting hard to go there in the morning. Along with being very angry with myself, I need to think of more options than:

1. endure it (there is a specific end date, but it's more than 600 days into the future)
2. quit tomorrow

Either enduring or quitting are options, of course, but what else could I do?

Also, I've been in the job less than three months, is it possible it will get better?

The complication is that I took this particular position as a long-term move to build relationships within the company and as a stepping stone to a bigger more exciting job. I have now learned my lesson about short-term pain for long-term gain, because I suck at it. I would have to assume that any quitting of the job now would be a massive relationship killer, obviously, and I would have to essentially start over (this makes me feel really, really awful). Another complication is that I really do love the company, and would like to stay (I've worked in other positions I loved within the company). I am having the depression, trapped, tunnel vision thinking so I need some help to broaden my idea of options.

I make a good amount of money, which is nice. I do have savings that I could tap into in a worst case scenario. I have lots of amazing awesome things in my personal life, so I could focus there - but I tend to get a bit all consumed by work - so it's just as likely I will ruin my personal life too while I am miserable.

If I had a time machine I would go back three months and tell myself not to do it! Is there anything realistic that I can do?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is talking with HR an option? They might have career coaching available that will help you get over this bump.
posted by Calzephyr at 7:23 PM on February 8, 2011

Is there a reason you need to wait 600 days before trying to get the bigger more exciting job?

If it is too soon for an upward move, can you try to move laterally within the company?

You don't have to quit tomorrow. You can give yourself a deadline of maybe 3 months (or 6 months, or whatever), during which time you look for other opportunities either within the company or outside, while hoping the existing job improves.
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:24 PM on February 8, 2011

What would you like to do with the company? How will your current job lead you there? Focus on building those relationships and contributing to any projects or developing skills/institutional expertise that will pave that path. Once you've been there six months, you may be able to talk to your supervisor about transitioning into that direction. Keep an eye open for openings in the areas you'd like to work. Also, keep looking outside the company--maybe some awesome opportunity will arise elsewhere.

In the meantime, yes, endure. Get good at what you're doing. Learn the company inside and out. Three months isn't necessarily a long took me well into a year before I was working on things that really satisfied me.

I say that assuming the job isn't destroying your soul, stick it out for a year (barring any great opportunities that might arise in the meantime). By then you'll have a better sense of where your job is going and what your prospects for advancement are.

My military friends have a lovely saying that may apply here: "Embrace the suck." It sucks to be in a job you don't like, that doesn't work for you. But if there's no reasonable way out (I'm assuming that quitting and backpacking around Europe isn't in the cards) then hunker down and do your best. And maybe it's a good opportunity to learn how to keep work in perspective and focus more on your wonderful personal life.

Good luck. It's not a happy situation to be in, but you are lucky to have a good job, so find something to be grateful about--it'll make it more bearable. You'll find your way.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:29 PM on February 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

I realize you're anon, but it would help to know what you hate about the new job. Is it the people? The tasks? The level of responsibility? The atmosphere in your new team?

If it's the tasks, it's often possible to make small changes to a job over time in order to eliminate the worst things and add new things that interest you more. It may be trading responsibilities with someone in a similar role, delegating tedious tasks to an underling, or just pushing to be involved in special projects that are more to your liking than your day-to-day job.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:56 PM on February 8, 2011

Two years? That's it?!

Your post makes it sound like you're incarcerated at Guantanamo or something. You're not. You're making good money working for a company you like.

I say just man up and do the very best you can even though you suck at. Actually, I say try really hard to excel at it because you suck at it, and then reap the benefits when you're done.

Your misery is more a result of your mind than your circumstances; since changing your circumstances would have far-reaching and negative repercussions, do the intelligent thing change your mind. The world is as you are.
posted by goblinbox at 8:08 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

In 600 days, will you be wishing you had a time machine so you can get those 600 days back?

If so, quit tomorrow.
posted by zippy at 8:32 PM on February 8, 2011

Also, I've been in the job less than three months, is it possible it will get better?

Absolutely. Jobs are often a struggle near the beginning. You'll learn new tricks and shortcuts that make it easier as you go along.

Nowhere in your post do you give any concrete explanation of what's bad about the job. As goblinbox said, you describe it as working for a company you really like, making good money.

The negative is just subjective: you have trouble getting ready in the morning, etc. That's true of so many jobs; it could be true of your next job. "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" — stick with the job you have, unless there's something specifically horrible about it that you haven't elucidated here.

Zippy's snappy answer is nice in theory, but it might not work out so great In This Economy.
posted by John Cohen at 9:20 PM on February 8, 2011

Mod note: This is a followup from the asker.
"I have now learned my lesson about short-term pain for long-term gain, because I suck at it."

To clarify, I don't suck at the actual job (I don't think I do at least), I suck at taking short-term pain for long-term gain (something I know about myself, but keep trying stupid things anyway).

The things that I do not like (specifically) about my current job are:

- The actual work I am doing day to day (boring and tedious for me)
- the approach to the work doesn't really work for me - my boss is basically an entirely different kind of problem solver than I am, and I have to work very closely with him. For example, he likes to do things at the last minute, with tons of drama, and no planning. This irritates the hell out of me, and I find it stressful. I am very good at dealing with this kind of personality, but I hate working with people like this.
- I can't really elaborate on this, but leaving before the 600 days is not possible without major bridge burning. So, sadly, staying at the company and finding a better job in six months is impossible.

I appreciate the feedback very much. Thank you.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:32 PM on February 8, 2011

If you are working for a large company, are there company committees or whatever that you could join? Stuff like the diversity committee, or community outreach, or even building first responders (the people who run the fire drills)? These usually look good to management, and they can give you something else to do with your time.
posted by cabingirl at 11:15 PM on February 8, 2011

Do you anticipate your boss staying at the job permanently? Because it sounds to me like that is the one major stressor you are dealing with.

(Worst case scenario, you learn to cope with the management style. He's not the first and won't be the last with it. )
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:52 AM on February 9, 2011

When I was in this same situation, I chose to quit after about about eight weeks. I felt pressured to "pull the trigger" rather than wait and see if things would improve because I decided that having a gap between jobs on my resume (by just not listing the job in question) was better than than having my resume say that I only stayed in a job for a few months-- which I was pretty sure was as much as I could take.

In hindsight I think I made the right choice, but it did come at a price. I completely burned bridges with the people who helped me get the job-- that's definitely the part of this I regret the most. The fact that I left also continues to "haunt" me a little... every once in a while my former employer does some work with my current company or with one of my current clients, or someone says, "I remember you... you worked for X. You weren't there for long, huh?"

I decided to leave when someone told me, "You have other options and you're too young to be miserable. There will come a point in your career when people won't forgive you for making mistakes and will expect you to grit through everything, but you're not there yet." Another big factor for me was that I sat down with my supervisor and tried to work out ways to make my job suck less, but nothing really changed. I felt like I did everything I could.

You're kind of in a lose/ lose situation, but if you know that the long-term gain isn't enough to keep you going for the next year or so, you should probably go.
posted by Sifleandollie at 11:21 AM on February 9, 2011

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