Twenty-first century folk hero Steven Slater  had fed-up employees everywhere cheering when he left the job he hated in a theatrical flourish. After a few choice words over the intercom to a problematic JetBlue passenger, ex-flight attendant Slater grabbed a couple of brewskies and slid down the plane’s emergency slide.
Why did Slater become such an instant smash across Facebook and the the rest of the internet? The answer is quite obvious: there are plenty of people out there who simply can’t stand their job. Living vicariously through Slater, they wish that they, too, could leap out of their current job, albeit with bridges burning behind them.
It’s the Economy
Given the recession, however, many people are staying in jobs or whole careers that they just don’t like because they’re afraid they won’t be able to find a new job if they quit. Even for underpaid workers, the thought of finding a good paying job  just seems unrealistic in this job market. Many workers have come to an unfortunate conclusion about their current job that they don’t like: hey, at least it’s a job.
Nevertheless, even if you’re stuck for the time being in a job you don’t like, you can still learn from your experience. Here are five tips to help you make the most out of a difficult situation at work.
1. Figure Out What You Want
If you’re in a career or a job that you don’t like, the first thing you need to do is stop spending so much time complaining about it and figure out what you don’t like about it. Once you know what it is you don’t like about your job, you’ll be one step closer to understanding what you are looking for.
Start by asking yourself some questions. For example, is it the people you don’t like, the work itself you don’t like, the rate of pay, or something else? Answering these questions honestly will help you to zero in on what it is that you’re really looking for in a career.
2. Expand Your Skill Set
While you’re stuck in the job you don’t like, instead of coming home each day, collapsing on the couch, and complaining about work to whoever will listen, use your time wisely. Start thinking how you can expand your skill set and make yourself more marketable, so that when the black cloud of the recession finally lifts, you’ll find it easy to get a new job.
Enroll in a community college course or a continuing education course at a local university. Your proactive attitude towards furthering your education will look good on the new resume you hand your next potential employer.
3. Find a Coach
Even highly talented Olympic athletes rely upon coaches who help them push their limits and reach their highest potential. If it’s good enough for Olympic athletes, isn’t it good enough for you? These days, personal and professional coaches are a popular way to help you clarify what direction you want your life to take, along with what steps you need to get there. Ask around amongst your friends to find out if anyone has worked with a competent career coach.
4. Don’t Be “That Guy”
What goes around, comes around – right? One thing you can learn from the co-workers you currently can’t stand is to not turn out like them. If a big part of why you don’t like your job is the people you’re working with, don’t just complain about them, learn from them. What is it you don’t like – their short temper? Their patronizing attitude? Their non-stop yakking about themselves?
The truth is that we all have character flaws. Learn from the character flaws you see in your co-workers, and start working on those flaws within yourself. This strategy gives you a way to channel your frustration into an opportunity for self-improvement. Who knows – as you work on identifying and improving your own negative attitudes, you just might start to see the people around you in a different light.
5. At Least Do Something
The bottom line is that you don’t want to stay in a job that you can’t stand forever. Don’t get to the point that you turn into the next Steven Slater. Facebook folk hero or not, Slater now faces very real criminal charges and a complicated, messy aftermath to dramatically acting out.
Don’t wait until you’re about to pop to do something. Even if you’re not sure exactly what direction you want to take, start taking steps in some direction so that when the time is right, you’ll be able to get out of the job you don’t like, and find a truly satisfying line of work instead.
What tips do you have for those working a job they hate?