How to Survive a Job Beneath You

My dream workplace.

My dream workplace.

It was a few months ago. I was doing a “j-o-b”, day after day after day. I needed the money.
Trapped. Bored. Anxious.

I wrote down the title of this post, and I listed all the things I was doing to help myself survive the dread.

Lots of us are in this “in between” place

We are working towards our “dream”, but we have to carry on doing things we don’t want to do.
Like what Marie Forleo calls “Bridge Job”.

“Waiting for things to get better” can be excruciatingly painful. You are desperate, lost, confused, hurting like Hell, and you have absolutely no idea what to do, because you want to escape your situation “yesterday”.

Here’s a list of coping strategies and concepts for you to play with. Whenever you feel ready. Choose what speaks to you. Adapt as necessary.

“Acknowledge & Allow”

You can find the technique here, and in my free e-book “Working with your Stuff”.

The basic idea is to fully acknowledge how upset you’re feeling about this job and let all the feelings be legitimate.

Hold that thought, because you’ll see me actually practice this further down.

List “Now is not Then”

This is a technique I got from Havi. (Of course)

See, when we’re in a situation like “doing a job beneath us”, the present pain is reminding us of past pain. So it’s not so much the present situation that sucks, but the reminder of the past one.

Listing all the ways in which “now is not then” helps to separate you from the past and bring you into the present.

Example: “now I have a business plan”, “now I have business cards with my name on them”, “now I have a website with an owl”.

Give yourself support throughout the day / job shift. And make it conscious

You can drink a glass of water while saying to yourself: “this is me, giving myself support in the form of drinking a glass of water“.

You can put your hand on your back while saying to yourself “this is me giving my self support, literally”.

You can take a deep breath while saying to yourself “this is me giving myself support in the form of a much needed calming breath

Don’t judge the job

I know, this will sound controversial. But trust me, you want to separate between the personal and the political here, because fighting against the job with your sound political arguments won’t get you anywhere. (I should know… I only did it for 5 years)

You want to get to the point where you say kindly and calmly “this job is just not for me. It can’t be for me because I’m not happy here. I’m not saying this job is bad, or good, I’m just pointing out that it’s not for me“.

Think about your “Back Up Story”

Remember the “Back Up Story“?

This step is really challenging. It is also necessary.

The question you want to engage with is this: “what if nothing changed and we found ourselves 10 years from now in the exact same place?

Does it make your skin crawl? Yeah. I know.

See, that question is already rattling inside your head. It just takes different forms. Most of the time it’s a really scary, borderline abusive nagging.

So it’s best to “deal with it in the open”. And make yourself promises you can keep, such as “we will keep working with our stuff and grow wiser and kinder“.

Have an “escape route”

So you don’t want to be in this job forever. You want to be in a much better place. I hear you. Let’s try to get you there.

The goal is to work towards your new place while you are still in the old place.

How? By slowly growing into the person who will be in this new, better place. You want to “become” this tomorrow version of you who will be in a better place.

So, having small reminders of this person you want to be helps a lot.

You can focus on the qualities. What are the qualities that define this future you?

For me they are: confident, calm, powerful, connected, present.

Then you can try to bring in those qualities throughout the day.

How would this tomorrow version of me, the calm and confident me, drink her cup of tea? Or interact with a stranger? Or stand up in the queue?

And now… A real life example

Yes, this is precisely what I said to myself the other day before my… “Bridge Job”.


“I am acknowledging my anxiety. I’m acknowledging just how much I don’t want to do this, how much my body resists this. How much fear I have about “getting it wrong”, and worse, the fact that this affects me in such a deep level.

I don’t like the work and I can’t stand the modality, the way I’m treated, how much I’m paid. I am acknowledging all this horribleness.

I am also acknowledging my fear that after doing this “gig” I will be so broken I will not be able to give my best for tomorrow’s workshop. And that would break my heart.

I am reminding myself that I am trying my best to leave this world of surviving, that I do have a plan for living outside the conventional rules of “work” and “earning money”. That experiencing the pain of conventional employment is part and parcel of me wanting to escape it.

I am getting ready to accept that this form of work is bad for my heart and my body and my soul. That I really need to leave if I want to be healthy.

I am also acknowledging my guilt for all the people who are trapped in these jobs which suck. And I’m acknowledging my desire to help them all, and I am acknowledging my inability to help them all at this very moment.

I am acknowledging this “guilt” for wanting to “escape” because “what about all these people I’m leaving behind”.

My plan for today: wish other people the very best. Wish myself the very best. Wish that this madness was over already, but do so without getting caught up in how rotten this system is.

Breath in kindness for myself.

Bonus technique!

Write a little note to your future self, explaining how you are trying to make things easier and more comfortable for her.

Like this:

Message to future me: I’m about to do something I really don’t want to do. But I’m doing it because I want to make YOUR life easier. Because it’s my belief that it will be easier if we have that teeny tiny bit of money. So. I’m trying. I hope it helps. Love, Me.

 DividerThat’s it for today!

Keep in mind that this is a difficult situation, and this practice is challenging. I’d bookmark this post and try something new every now and then.

I’m wishing you and me an easy transition to a better “place”.

Re: the title.

I know the title of the post is not very “politically correct”, but I went with it because this is how it came to me when I was in a difficult situation. I don’t want to get into “what constitutes a job beneath you”; take it to mean a job that triggers the thoughts “I was put on this Earth for more than this”.

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