I am feeling miserable because of this job that I can't leave. How can I cope?
May 14, 2012 7:12 PM   Subscribe

I accepted a job offer last August that turned out to be completely inadequate for me. I have to live with the consequences of that choice until next December. Help me figure out the best way to cope with this.

Last year accepted a job offer that I knew didn't fit my profile, but I took the plunge anyway. My hiring managers also knew I wasn't a traditional fit and hired me in part because of it - I work on a technology segment that is changing rapidly and they probably wanted to shake things up a bit by introducing new blood. Another reason I decided to join is because my boss and his boss are nice people, well regarded by everybody who worked with them.

So I accepted the job, and I had to relocate, and as part of the relocation agreement I made a commitment to stay with the company for one year (if I leave the company voluntarily before that, I need to reimburse the relocation costs to the company).

However, since I joined this team, several changes in the market and in the company caused the team's role to move even further away from my area of expertise [*]. Now, even though it pays well, I really dislike my job, and I know I could be doing something that I enjoy more. This is taking a heavy toll on me, and my productivity is suffering. My boss is complaining about my time management skills when I have no problem managing my time - sometime there's stuff that I just flat out decide I won't do because I don't care or because doing it will ruin my mood.

I would be actively looking for another job if it wasn't for the relocation reimbursement costs hanging over my head, and I will leave this job as soon as I can (that has been pretty much decided BTW, so no need to try to convince me to stay - I AM leaving this job shortly after December).

So what should I do?

Option 1: Part of me thinks I should just keep winging it until December when my relocation agreement expires. My boss will keep thinking I'm kind of unreliable, but the parts of the work I do well will somewhat compensate for it and I'll keep going through the motions until I can find another job. The risk is that my level of frustration may rise further and the job may become absolutely unbearable from now until the end of the year, which will make me unable to even wing it properly.

Option 2: Another part of me thinks I should go to my boss and tell him my productivity is faltering because I hate my job. Knowing my boss, this is a situation he will try to fix (as I said, he's a good person), and I am not sure I want to (or have the energy to) go through a trial and error process to "fix" my job, knowing full well that (1) this is very likely a futile exercise (there's nothing to "fix", I just don't like the job) and (2) I will leave as soon as possible after my relocation agreement expires.

There are probably other options that I can't think about because I am feeling stuck. Help me Metafilter! I am feeling miserable at this job I can't leave.

[*] Note: I am not the only one affected by these changes - though the rest of the team is more marketing oriented than me, several team members are unhappy that we're doing so much of sales support work and not enough product definition work.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How much are the relocation costs? How much time would you have to repay them? Would they really make you repay them (meaning, is that mentioned in a written contract that you've signed)? How possible would it be for you to get another job that pays almost as much?

It's worth paying a significant amount of money to not be miserable, if you have the means to do so.
posted by anildash at 7:21 PM on May 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

I'm sensing some really strong entitlement coming off of this:

"sometime there's stuff that I just flat out decide I won't do because I don't care or because doing it will ruin my mood."

Have you been in the job market long? As in decades? You sound very very young.

If you lay it out like the above, you can probably get your company to accept you paying back some of your relocation costs to get you out earlier. I can't guarantee a well written letter of recommendation, and honestly if word gets out about your conduct at this job it could seriously ruin chances of you finding another one. Get out asap, or fake it until you can.
posted by Dynex at 7:26 PM on May 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

Option 3: Decide to be professional about your situation and look at this as an opportunity to approach your job each day as a challenge to do your very best in spite of your feelings and your ultimate goal. This way, you will have less friction with your boss, you will be less miserable while you pass the time and you might even get a good recommendation when you leave. As it is, you are setting yourself up to fail in your own eyes, the eyes of your co-workers and the eyes of people who may be the first phone call from your next prospective employer. You are part of the problem that got you here. Admit it and do what you can to reduce the impact of that problem until it is feasible to solve it.
posted by Old Geezer at 7:29 PM on May 14, 2012 [16 favorites]

If you go with Option 1, you'll be miserable for eight more months and have a year-plus-long job that you cannot ever use for references. Your boss may well put out the word that you're unreliable. Is your community so large that it cannot possibly ever come back to haunt you?

If you go with Option 2, what's the worst possible result? You get fired? Avoid eight months of a soul-crushing job? Or maybe he's a fundamentally decent human being who will say, "Oh, thank god. I was afraid you just sucked. You're right -- this isn't working for us, either. Don't worry about the relocation crap."

Also, as Dynex points out, not every job is going to be fun all the time. Regardless of what you choose to do, suck it up and do it.
posted by Etrigan at 7:30 PM on May 14, 2012

Yeah, sometimes you gotta do shit in your job you don't want to do - if you don't want to do it, leave.

My first instinct is to pay back the relocation costs and get out of there.
posted by mleigh at 7:34 PM on May 14, 2012

There are probably other options that I can't think about because I am feeling stuck.

Yeah, the other option is to do your job to the best of your ability until December. No need to repay the relocation costs, you have time to do a proper job search, you keep your income, and you might even get a decent recommendation.

Most people don't like their job. Even if you get a job closer to your interests, there will still be many things you don't like about it. Being able to do the job anyway is a skill you probably want to learn.
posted by spaltavian at 7:37 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Old Geezer has it. Suck it up and do the best possible job you can -- no more "i'm not doing this because I don't want to" baloney.

Pursue stuff in your off time that makes you really, really happy. Maybe learn to meditate, or stress reduction techniques. Deal with it all until December and then resign, knowing you've done the proper, professional thing -- a quality which will serve you very well going forward.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:37 PM on May 14, 2012

I'm surprised by the pile-on. Lots of people dislike their jobs, and that's why so many people are really bad at their jobs. Disliking your job isn't a moral failing, it's a common occurrence when there's a mismatch in skills or interest. And if you dislike something then being bad at it is a natural consequence of that. I have increasingly structured my jobs to avoid work I hate and do work I like, and my productivity has soared, so what's good for me is good for my employer. So I don't think you are acting entitled or are a miscreant, I think you have wisely identified that there's a problem and you want to figure out a way to deal with it instead of sticking your head in the sand.

Now for my answer. I'm nthing anildash - is repaying the relocation costs really that much of an expense? I've had 5 jobs and I've never been offered a relocation package so amazing that it would keep me past the 3-month mark. Think about it this way - the sooner you get a job that's more in line with you interests, the sooner you start on your real career path. That trajectory often includes increased responsibilities and increased compensation. So if you can get into a job that allows you to grow instead of just suffering through it, there's a good chance you'll make back that $1,000 (or whatever) that you lose now, and even if you don't it might be a reasonable price to pay for peace of mind.

2 years ago I took a new job because I didn't like my old one. This career trajectory involved 2 moves over the next two years and 2 months of unemployment* as well as enrolling in grad school. Despite the moves, time off, losing company stock, and paying out-of-pocket for grad school, I'm still at least $15k richer than I would have been at the old job (that's assuming they gave me very generous raises, too). Now, my path is an unusual one, but the idea still applies - if you can get a job that puts you in a better position, then taking a one-time hit is potentially worth it.

A couple more things. First, you don't know when you'll actually get a new job. If you start applying now, that better job might come around in a month, in which case awesome! Or it might not come around until November or December, in which case you might be able to start in the new year anyway. You might have to go on a few interviews before you really perfect your delivery. Regardless, it's worthwhile to start early. Second, you may find that job searching is empowering. I certainly did. Your currently-miserable job might get a bit more bearable when you are focused on your career and your next steps, and can treat the current job as a stepping stone. It might even be motivational - "doing well here is the best path to getting out of here!"

Anyway, in summary: go ahead and start applying. Save up the funds you'd need to move on. There's very little downside to applying to jobs once you get over that relocation issue. Your current employer might not even ask for the money back - one of mine didn't when I left a month early (YMMV).

*Really, time off taken on purpose because I could do it. My case was a very rare case. DO NOT quit your job without another one lined up!!!
posted by Tehhund at 8:01 PM on May 14, 2012 [7 favorites]

You say: sometime there's stuff that I just flat out decide I won't do because I don't care or because doing it will ruin my mood.
It sucks to have people like that on your team especially if things are far from ideal for everyone. You are probably making someone's life more difficult and contributing to a negative environment.

If leaving your job is not an option, then you have to at the very least stop refusing to do things because you don't feel like it.

Only take option 2 if you can assume responsibility for your actions. By which I mean describing your behaviour, explaining where it comes from, saying what you will do to fix it and only then asking for feedback towards fixing things.

I think option 1 is misconstrued: Part of me thinks I should just keep winging it until December when my relocation agreement expires. My boss will keep thinking I'm kind of unreliable, but the parts of the work I do well will somewhat compensate for it and I'll keep going through the motions until I can find another job.

If your boss thinks you're being unreliable and already finds fault with your time management, you are not winging it. And in my experience, people can always tell who's unreliable and self-entitled and it doesn't go down well even if they do some bits really well (unless, it's some extremely important bit done amazingly well).
posted by mkdirusername at 10:47 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Option 4: look for a new job and negotiate a signing bonus that will allow you to repay relocation costs.
posted by bq at 8:00 AM on May 15, 2012

If your boss is, as you say, a good person, I think it is a good idea to sit down and be honest with him. People are often too afraid to have honest conversations with each other, but they are very happy they did when it's over. This is particularly true when it comes to the workplace.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 9:08 AM on May 15, 2012

On one hand, I know how you feel. I too once accepted a job that turned out to be a terrible fit.

So you're half-way through your one year mark. That gives you 6 and a half months to find a new job. So start getting that going.

As for the whole, "I don't do the boring part of my job." My friend, that's EVERY job you will ever have.

My mother, a complex and intelligent woman once said to me, "The problem with work is that it's every day." How right she was. The simple fact is that you were offered a job with these tasks associated with it, and they expect you to do them. That paycheck you cash? That's the reason your should do the other tasks.

Also, when you become petulent, it reflects badly on your boss, and do you really want to make him or her pay for your bad decision?

So suck it up, and start planning your escape. It couldn't hurt to find out how much the re-lo repayment will be. Will they pro-rate it for time served?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:35 AM on May 15, 2012

I can't remember where I first read the analogy, but it compared teams to two different kinds of armies: occupying and conquering. You signed up to be in the conquering army, blazing new trails, and now you're stuck in garrison duty. It's not a surprise that you're unhappy, since it's a bit of a bait-and-switch.

You have a couple of options: quit and reimburse them for the moving expenses, or stick it out and suffer. There's also a different option, which I would recommend. Since it's likely that this job is going to be on your resume for a while, it would be good to have some sort of skill or accomplishment that you can point to as a takeaway. Because no future manager is going to be excited if they hear "I didn't learn or do anything worthwhile at Position X" when they ask you about it.

There has to be something about this that you can turn around and spin into something you can walk away with. "Increased efficiency in user support by Y% in three months," that sort of thing. Make a game of it, something that might motivate you. All work is crazy crap we do to put food on our families, but it does help if it doesn't drive us to drink while it happens.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:16 PM on May 15, 2012

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