A Story About Paying Off Debt and the Obstacles Along the Way


Coping With My Job While I'm Searching For My Unicorn

Not much has changed on the job front since I first wrote about my work woes back in September. To be completely honest, I'm dealing with the exact same issues three months later. It's stressful, frustrating, and sometimes exhausting. It is an exercise in endurance.

Endurance is hard.

I'm in the process of exploring other employment opportunities. I've even had a couple of preliminary interviews. Unfortunately, many of the openings I'm seeing on the job boards would involve a significant pay cut, and while I'm not totally opposed to a salary reduction, I'm willing to go that route only if it's a gig I'm truly excited about. I'm hesitant to scale back our debt repayment plans to take a lower-paying job that doesn't make me want to jump out of bed in the morning. 

I want that debt-free life bad. Real, real bad.

So I'm being picky. Really, really picky. As I told my writer/Twitter friend Lisa Munro, I feel like I'm searching for a unicorn.

To save my sanity while I'm out unicorn hunting, I'm busting out every coping mechanism I can reasonably sustain, including:

  • meditating at least 10 minutes a day (inspired by my friend Frugalish Physician)
  • working out daily
  • taking frequent work breaks (I aim for every 15 minutes or so)
  • setting three non-work goals every day 
  • reading the job discussion boards on Reddit if I feel like I need some commiseration and understanding
  • avoiding unnecessary meetings (or, if it's a phone meeting, muting parts of the call)
  • taking at least one mental health day every few weeks - that way, I always have a break to look forward to
  • spending more time with friends outside of work and making my non-work life as big as possible 
  • incessantly reminding myself of the benefits of my job: paycheck, insurance, paid time off. Paycheck, insurance, paid time off. PAID TIME OFF. PAID TIME OFF.

I'm also finding that my work life is easier if I don't think too far out into the future. Can I deal until the end of January? Sure. Can I deal for another year? Cue panic attack. So I don't focus on a year from now. I focus on getting through the next few weeks. I focus on making it to the next break or vacation.

Lastly, I do not allow myself to fall into the "I'm wasting my life away" rabbit hole. It's a very unhealthy and dangerous line of self-talk - especially for someone with chronic depression - so when my mind veers in that direction, I immediately try to put up a mental roadblock and stop that thought in its tracks. I am not wasting my life. Ultimately, as not-thrilled as I am with this job, it is benefitting me and my family in myriad ways and therefore is not a waste of my time or energy.

I know I'm not the only one dealing with this challenge, so tell me: have you ever been in a similar situation with your work? What are your strategies for coping with a job that seems generally unsustainable?


  1. I can totally relate to the "unicorn" aspect of finding a job that pays what you need to live comfortably AND keeps your interest. I've only been on my job for a few months but I still find myself needing to implement some habits to help me cope on the days when I'm not feeling it.

    As you mentioned, meditation seems to be helpful, as well as thinking short-term over long-term. I also get anxious if I think too far out, so life seems less dreadful if I focus on one or two months ahead max. Good luck to you with coping (and finding your unicorn)! :)

    1. Thank you! I appreciate that. Meditation is new for me. I've tried it before but I've never stuck with it. This time, I'm determined to keep it up for the forseeable future. I'm curious to see whether it really makes a difference.

  2. I'm glad I've inspired you to meditate! It is the only thing getting me through to Christmas right now.

    1. SAAAAAME. I'm counting down the days. Five workdays to go!

  3. I love this post, it rings so true with me too! I will try some of your coping skills to see if it helps.

    1. Oh good! I hope you find some that make work a little more tolerable. :-) This is really just a big experiment for me to see what works and what doesn't. Meditation does seem to help quite a bit. So do frequent mental health days. I will say that my employer never gives me a hard time about taking a day off here or there, which is nice.

  4. I feel like all of these mechanisms are great for any part of life that you have to deal with for a certain amount of time that you’d rather not. So perhaps your general coping skills will be pro level by the time you leave this job? ;)