How To Survive When a Job Grinds You Down
January 2, 2019

It was the fall of of 2013 and I had been in my job for about six months too long. I had never found the job exciting, but now I found it downright unbearable. Every morning I’d walk in to 30+ overdue proposal requests and a red blinking light on my phone which meant I had angry voicemails to return.

There was no catching up. We were short staffed and I had made the mistake of proving to be reliable while my co-workers texted and shopped on Amazon. My boss loved me on her team, but apparently not enough to help me get promoted. I had built my own trap.


That summer I had spent countless hours studying for the Series 7 exam, which in the finance world was supposed to be my ticket out of this menial job and into sales. I passed on my first try but the sales managers hardly took notice. When I approached one of them about my readiness for sales she told me that I “didn’t have enough phone experience.” Apparently she didn’t know about the angry voicemails I was about to walk back to.

Over the next month I proceeded to meet with each sales managers in my department to share my progress and inquire about a spot on their team. Each one of them told me a similar story. I wasn’t ready for sales. One of them even told me that the best thing I could do for myself was to escape my current role. I couldn’t agree more. I saw two of my teammates get promoted before me while I slipped into a downward spiral.


One night after the office had cleared out I shut off my monitor and buried my head in my keyboard. I felt my mind start to spin.

How much of this could I take? What was I doing here? How could I make them change their minds?

I lifted my head, rubbed my eyes and stood up in my cube. I could see the Boston skyline glowing in the distance. I took a breath and thought back to the last question that lingered in my mind.

How could I make them change their minds?


In that moment I had a flicker of clarity. Maybe I couldn’t make them change their minds. After all, I could not control them. Maybe the best I could do was come to grips with my situation. If I couldn’t change their minds, at least I could change mine.

I took another breath, deeper this time. What would it feel like to be OK with this situation? The answer came quickly. It would feel a hell of a lot better than it did now. That much was certain. I knew that this job was not permanent. I’d find a way out eventually, but for now I had to accept.

I had to accept the fact that I was in a job I hated and that I was looked over for promotion after promotion. I had to accept their decision. In this acceptance I could find peace now. 


I packed up my backpack and checked my phone. It was already 8:30. In twelve short hours I’d be back. I walked over to the elevator, took it down five flights, said goodnight to the security guard and stepped out into the crisp October air.

Nothing had fundamentally changed that day, yet I felt like a new chapter was starting for me. I walked over to the Silver Line and waited for the bus. As the SL4 approached from the distance one more thought occurred to me.

I can’t control everything that happens to me in this world. I can only control my reaction to it.

The empty bus pulled up and I got on. I rode home feeling ready for what tomorrow would bring.




View More Posts

Win the Morning, Win the Day

(Originally posted in 2019) What do you do each morning before work? You might grab coffee and a quick breakfast. Maybe you check Instagram. Hopefully, you shower. These are the basic habits we all fall into as our day begins. And then, before we know it, it's 7:00 AM...

read more
Join Brendan's "Fired Up Friday" Weekly Newsletter

Join Brendan's "Fired Up Friday" Weekly Newsletter

Get life hacks, career tips and inspirational content to help you find purpose in your work and fulfillment in your life.

You have Successfully Subscribed!