It seemed like almost everyone in the office was blaming and gossiping non-stop. And that included my boss who played favorites and liked to place blame constantly.
It was completely draining and although I wanted out, I had zero energy by the end of the day to craft my escape plan.
I just wanted a glass of wine.
Until one fateful day, I got blamed for a non-existent mistake in front of my biggest client.
I was done.
But I couldn’t just quit.
I had student loans, credit card debt, and minimal savings.
The work environment wasn’t healthy, but I also knew it wasn’t good for my financial health to quit a good job with no plan.
I had my eye on the door, but I knew I had to find ways to bring peace to my current situation until I was able to leave.
I had to create some relief so I could craft my escape plan.
I recognized that my job was impacting my finances in multiple ways. Being miserable all day was likely impacting my performance and my earning potential. And I was overspending on shopping, travel, and happy hour to try to spend my way to happy outside of working hours.
From a practical standpoint, I needed to get the money stuff together as fast as possible. But from an emotional standpoint, I knew I needed to shift my mindset out of the negativity.
Abundance is everywhere and negativity is everywhere.
You get to choose how you show up in the world.
I just had to remember a different way.
I started by infusing my day with reminders of the mindset I wanted to cultivate for myself. These shifts created some mental space for me to start working on solutions to finding a new job. I needed both the practical plan and the mindset shifts to make big changes in my finances and my career.
Here are the 7 specific steps I took to escape my toxic work environment:
1. Change your hours (if you can)
I started minimizing my over-lap time with my boss (the main issue) at the office by getting to the office much earlier. My friend made the same shift and those early morning hours turned out to be productive and fun.
2. Insert inspiration everywhere you can
I had a cubicle, but I made sure the calendar I chose for the wall was beautiful and inspiring. I changed my passwords to inspirational sayings. I brought my favorite coffee mug from home to use at work. I updated the pictures on my desk to my favorite wedding photos. I bought a gorgeous notebook for meetings. I infused my day with beauty and inspiration.
3. Take breaks
I left the office to eat lunch every day and would find small zen pockets of the city to hang out in. I also would sneak out for quick afternoon walks to regroup and reset.
4. Remember it’s not about you
The negativity in a toxic work environment is not about you. Misplaced anger and gossiping is not about you. Getting blamed for something you had nothing it do with, is not about you. It is not about you.
5. Start your escape plan
Steps #1-4 are meant to be temporary. Eventually, you have to find a work environment that you enjoy. It’s important to earn with intention. That means getting paid what you deserve to do work you enjoy. If you don’t know where to begin, start with research. Ask everyone you meet where they work and if they like it. Research companies you hear about. Polish your resume. Research other industries.
6. Get your money stuff together
I decreased my expenses and started paying off debt so I would be prepared to take a lower salary or start over in a new industry. I knew, in the long run, a salary cut could be worth it if it was the right opportunity.
At first, I was afraid to tell anyone I had my eye on the door, but the more people I told the more I realized that most people were more than willing to share a job posting they heard about, make a connection, or offer other ideas to help my search.
My network eventually was the key to me getting an endorsement for the job I ended up accepting. It was a pay cut, but it didn’t matter, because I had shifted my lifestyle to accommodate the change. I was prepared. And, the risk of taking a step back was worth it.
I surpassed my old salary within 15 months at my new company because my contributions were valued and I thrived in that environment.
So if you are in a toxic work environment, first try to find some peace. Then start to craft your escape plan and get out of there! Because no amount of money is worth the stress of working in a toxic workplace.