Ring In the New Year With a New Attitude

Every job includes some task or responsibility that isn’t enjoyable. However, when you feel stuck in a job that is legitimately terrible for you, it’s hard to keep a positive attitude by focusing on the silver lining. Instead, you watch in horror as your attitude, your energy and possibly your work ethic crumbles under the pressure of working a job that is a poor fit for you.

Fortunately, your mind can have power over your circumstances. If you choose to reframe your crummy job as a temporary stepping point as you look for a new job, you can salvage your time, your network and your attitude before you leave. Not only will this set you up for a smooth transition out of your current workplace, but it will help you develop the professional skills you need to navigate tough situations in the future.

Of course, if you’re in a truly toxic or dangerous workplace, you might decide that it’s not in your best interest to stick it out. However, if you’re unhappy but tolerably well treated, these tips can help you start the New Year off with a new attitude until you can transition out:

Find one thing to be grateful for every day.

In a bad situation, it is easy to let the big problems take up the focus. However, bad things happening don’t have to detract from good things happening. The two kinds of events can exist together and often go hand in hand with each other. The only thing that prevents us from seeing the partnership is when we choose to focus only on negative things.

For example, you might find yourself at odds with your coworkers, clients and schedule for most of the week. However, the income you receive for putting up with these downsides has allowed you to get out of debt several years earlier than you would have working somewhere else. Instead of feeling taken advantage of, you can choose to appreciate the fact that now that you’re out of debt you truly can work anywhere you want. This job — as bad an experience as it might have been — helped you earn your freedom.

Take time every day to reframe your terrible experience with one positive thing. Showing gratitude every day won’t change the facts about your job, but it will change your internal environment and allow you to feel more satisfied and peaceful about your situation.

Force yourself to think of a way in which this experience might benefit you.

Sometimes it might seem like a situation or behavior is absolutely 100% bad. However, that’s rarely the truth of the matter. In fact, most negative situations in the workplace can work for your good by giving you valuable experience that makes you better off in the end, or that trains you to avoid even worse situations in the future.

For example, for about two years, I commuted three days a week for ninety minutes each way in traffic. After the first year, the commute really began to bother me. Ultimately I let that negative factor overwhelm the rest of my job and became bitter when the company wouldn’t let me go full-time work from home.

At the time I chose to be upset. However, now I can see that this was a valuable lesson that let me know I prefer a work-from-home environment and that privacy and quiet in the workplace are very important to me. This self-knowledge allows me to avoid job offers and situations that I know will make me uncomfortable on a day-to-day basis.

If you have difficulty thinking of how an experience might benefit you, work with a close friend to reframe the situation for you. Describe the situation from your point of view, then ask, “How do you think this experience might benefit me in the long run?” You  may be surprised by the insights your friend can offer.

Screen your work friends for bad attitudes.

Unfortunately, a bad attitude is catching. If you fall into the wrong crowd at work, you can easily get swept up into sarcasm, bitterness and general lack of excitement for the work you do.

If you feel that your bad attitude is something you’ve acquired from someone else, you need to make some changes. Try to catch yourself from engaging with negative behavior and talk and re-direct the conversation in more positive ways. Then try to get an influx of new energy by making new friends. Say hello or interact with someone new in your office every day. Go out to lunch with a different crowd, or invite a new person to go to lunch with your regular friends. You don’t have to abandon your current work friends, but diluting a bad attitude with positivity goes a long way toward fixing it.

If you’re unhappy where you work, you’re likely already looking for a new job. However, there’s a chance that poor attitude will seep out in your cover letter, resume and interview. Even worse, it’s going to have a negative effect on your day-to-day mood. Use these tips to improve your attitude and teach yourself that you can learn valuable things from any situation.