top of page

How to Move Forward When You're Stuck In A Job That's Draining You

Clawing your way out, one step at a time.

Feeling stuck a job you dislike is horrible isn't it? Some people might quibble with this and say:

  • "It's just a job"

  • "Work isn't supposed to be enjoyable"

  • "Just compartmentalise it and enjoy your life"

With all due respect, no. No on every level.

Not only is work not supposed to completely suck, but when you're in a job that's draining you, you CAN'T compartmentalise it.

Try and put a container around a job you hate and see how far you get.

That container will leak - into your commute home, your personal life, the energy you have to give to your kids in the evening, the fun you have on the weekends, your mental health, and your sleep.

It poisons the well.

So what to do? Let's unpack how you can navigate this tricky time.

A woman sits at her desk looking upset because of the job that's draining her

Get Unstuck Tip #1: Find The Source

When it feels rubbish, everything can blend together into a toxic soup of despair. It's hard to see where one feeling ends and the next begins.

Try to detangle this mess of feelings, and get really clear on what specifically is causing these feelings.

Grab a piece of paper and draw two columns. For a week, write down the things that Gave you energy each day, and the things that Drained your energy each day.

Analyse what you see. Which days have the worst results of maximum energy drainage? Why? What were you doing on those days? Who were you working with? Is there a commonality - perhaps a project, a stakeholder, a location?

Let's say it's a project that you hate. Get curious again. What about it is making you feel this way? Maybe it's too hard and really you need more help. Maybe you are bored by this topic, having done it for the past 7 years. Maybe you can't bear how you're being treated by the customer. Figure out where the discomfort sits.

You're playing detective, trying to wade through this mess of emotions to figure out what specifically is making you feel this way.

Get Unstuck Tip #2: Consider Your Boundaries

I really believe that everyone has agency and choice in the way they want their careers to play out. We can so easily feel trapped and helpless, but you always have a choice. It really just boils down to 3 core questions:

  • What are you no longer willing to tolerate?

  • What feels rubbish but you will decide to put up with?

  • What is tolerable, if you can make some tweaks and changes?

An important piece to consider in all this is how permanent this thing is. If it's a 6 month project that's driving you nuts, perhaps it's not worth leaving when you know it will end soon. If, however, your job seems to be a cycle of 6 month projects which you've really disliked for the past 5 years, maybe it's time to move on.

This is about getting clear on where your red lines are.

Get Unstuck Tip #3: Make a Plan

You now have 4 choices in front of you:

  • Stay and just accept that it is what it is, relieve yourself of the burden of caring about this anymore (do not recommend but everyone's situation is different)

  • Stay and negotiate fundamental changes to your role

  • Leave and make a small tweak (e.g. similar role but different department/industry)

  • Leave and make a more substantial career change

This is about how you want your life to look.

What you want your day to day to be filled with? This is about the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that makes up "Me When Energised At Work".

A thought experiment that can help with these moments is what I call the Deathbed Test.

Sounds morbid I know, sorry about that.

Essentially, it's this:

Imagine you're at the end of your life, and you're longing to go back to a time when you were X years old. What do you think you will be wishing, shouting, hoping that your younger self does at this moment?

Will you be shouting "LEAVE! It's not worth it!"? Or something else?

Now come back to your present self. You have been magically given this time back. What do you want to do?

And I know, it can feel overwhelming when faced with these big life choices. To break this down, just think in baby-steps.

What is the one small decision you can make today, or this week, or this month, to get closer to a choice on this?

It might be to read a book on career change. It might be, the next week, to start to speak to your spouse about this. The following week, maybe you might ask your friends if they know anyone in X industry that can put you in touch with.

You're not doing it all at once, it's just one step at a time.

Get Unstuck Tip #4: Get Support

Remember, you're not alone. Research by London Business School found that 47% of people want to change their careers. Partly this was brought on by COVID, which caused 22% of UK workers realise that their role wasn't right for them anymore.

The capacity to make changes to our careers has never been greater. People are pivoting multiple times over the course of their lives, sometimes well into their 60s.

Nonetheless, these abstract figures do little to help you in your actual transition. So get some help. There are so many websites, books, podcasts and career coaches (oh, hi) out there who specialise in supporting people through this type of shift.

You don't have to do it alone.

Start Here

If you need more help and aren't sure where to start, grab my freebie What to Do if You Hate Your Job! and why not reach out and book a call to explore how my 1:1 coaching can support you!

Always on your side,

CEO and Founder, Clarity Coaching with Louise


bottom of page