What’s not hate about the workplace with its festering toxic environment, twisted work cultures and narcissistic bosses?  The ugly truth is that more than half of the employed population hate their jobs but are afraid to quit so they hold on to an extent where their lives are in danger.

After forcing himself to stay on a job he hated, a former colleague one day went to the office and all of a sudden he  could not breathe. He tried to force himself to work but everything on his computer became blurred. He persisted until the afternoon. One minute he was in a meeting with the bosses, the next minute he was in his car driving out of the gate. “It was if I was in a trance, I heard my voice say excuse me, I saw myself pick my car keys and drive out of the gate.” He related to me.  Three years later he has never stepped in that place to pick up his personal items and every time he hears that company mentioned he feels nauseous.  I have since heard worse horror stories!

When you can’t stand your job yet you can’t live without it, you have two options. You can either quit and hope for the best or change your perception to make it more tolerable. Here is how:

Adjust your attitude

Instead of feeling resentful at what you do; just do the best you can.  Remember how you do anything is how you do everything.  If you’re not doing your best work, for whatever reason, it’s likely that other areas of your life aren’t getting your best work either. Good habits are formed in the things we don’t like to do, but do anyway because that’s how you become a reliable person. When you start trying your hardest to do the best work you can, you may come to enjoy your work more, because it’s almost certain that you’ll feel better about yourself and more fulfilled in what you’re doing.

Negotiate better

Before you can find a solution, you have to know what the problem is. And so you must honestly ask yourself: What exactly is it about your job you dislike? Are you overworked? Underutilized?  Underpaid?   Once you get to the source of your trouble, set up a meeting with your boss or supervisor and just be honest about how you feel in a professional and civil manner. Maybe you’re just bored at work because you aren’t being challenged enough, so you are on Facebook half the day. Ask for some more responsibility. Or maybe you have too much responsibility.  Be honest about the amount of work that you can handle.

Start Your Dream Job

Just because you don’t like your current job doesn’t mean you can’t start making progress on your escape plan. It is said that to do what you love, you must first love what you do, so start on the none fun aspects of your dream job like research, contacts etc. Working on a passion project on the side can do amazing things not only for your confidence and excitement, but also for how you experience your regular work day.

Reward yourself

Allow yourself some small reward just for going through the day.  Most Ugandans prefer to have a drink after work, or watch TV, whatever works for you, do it. Some small reward can make the worst of tasks manageable.

Make a friend

A toxic work place can blind you to fellow colleagues yet a friend can help make things better.  You might hate your job, but do take the time to cultivate relationships with the people you like at your workplace. You don’t have to be best friends, but having a confidant is important.  At least you will have someone you can vent to when you feel like you can’t take any more.

Add personal touches to your desk

Add something pleasant that will lift your spirits every time you look at it. It could be a framed family portrait, a picture of your dream car or a house plant.

Treat yourself well

Everything else we do affects our work. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you’ll be extra cranky for that morning meeting. If you aren’t eating well and aren’t exercising, you’ll feel sluggish all day, which makes anything worse, let alone a full workday you already don’t enjoy.

Give yourself breaks

Take a 15-minute break in the morning and afternoon. Take your full lunch break when you can; sometimes you won’t be able to, but you can even take charge of that every once in a while. Instead of sitting at your desk with your lunch, where you can be asked to work on something, take a walk outside for 30 minutes.   Physically getting away (and being active) will refresh your brain for another few hours of work.

Acquire exceptional skills 

We hate most of our jobs because we are bad at them, so you can say the feeling is mutual. To do what you love, one must first love what they do and there is nothing more fun than being excellent at what you do. Not only will your boss be impressed, but you’ll also feel much better about how you spend your hours, and you’ll become more marketable for when you finally decide to quit.  Pick something in line with your strengths and get specific. Maybe you decide to be the best presenter, salesman, relationship builder, analyst, product usability guru or number cruncher. Pick one and start running. People will start to notice. The better you are, the more you’re valued and the stronger your leverage. Let your natural strengths and talents lead the way.

Be someone’s ray of sunshine

If you can’t be happy, try and lessen someone else’s misery. Complement a co-work on their efforts, looks or whatever. Buy lunch for a broke colleague, give someone a ride, anything that will brighten a person’s day.  No matter how small, find something. Changing the state of those around you is one of the most powerful ways to impact the world and make yourself feel better.

Keep a gratitude journal

If you’re thankful for the truly important things in life  your health, your family, your home, the fact that you have a job at all  you’re more likely to see a crappy workday in a better light. Being more thankful all around will ensure that the things you don’t enjoy don’t take over your life.