How to Stay Motivated in a Job You Don't Love
Wouldn’t the world be a wonderful place if we all immediately landed in positions and careers that fulfilled every wish and desire we had detailed on our “dream job” checklist? Sounds nice, right?
But, unfortunately, reality doesn’t always align with our fantasies—meaning that many of us need to tough it out through jobs that make us feel more than a little exhausted and drained. It can be challenging, but it’s all a part of the process. As discouraging as it may seem, you need those not-so-great jobs in order to identify what you’re truly looking for and continue climbing that ladder toward a gig you really want.
While that idea might be a little more uplifting, it also means that—in the meantime—you need to continue doing your best work in a position that you don’t necessarily love. There’s no doubt that staying focused and motivated when your job doesn’t make you giddily jump for joy can be trying at best. So, here are a few tips to keep trucking along in a job that you think is mediocre.
Fake It ‘Til You Make It
This is likely a sentiment you’ve heard before. And, when it comes to sticking it out in your career, it definitely holds some water.
What exactly does it mean? Well, quite simply, you need to keep your chin up and do your best—even if you’re screaming on the inside. The absolute worst thing you can do when you dislike your job is to act like you dislike your job.
The absolute worst thing you can do when you dislike your job is to act like you dislike your job.
Even if you’re stuck in the most soul-sucking, terrible position on the planet, you should still make sure that you put your best effort in. If this job truly is a stepping stone in your overall career path, then you want to ensure that you’re starting to build a positive professional reputation as a dedicated, helpful employee—not that crabby, standoffish person who skates by doing the bare minimum.
Plus, putting your all into every project—even if it makes you want to grit your teeth and cringe at first—will likely help to improve your attitude and outlook about all of your work. Think of the last time you were having a bad day. If you spent all of your time just dwelling on how awful things were going, I’m willing to bet your mood only continued to spiral downward. But, if you pasted on a smile and did your best to keep moving forward? Well, I’m sure it helped to turn things around.
Explore Other Opportunities
When you’re working a job that you don’t love, it’s all too easy to feel unchallenged and uninspired. After all, when you don’t really enjoy what you’re working on, it’s tough to feel fulfilled and accomplished when the clock strikes five every evening.
Oftentimes, it’s up to you to take matters into your own hands and identify other ways that you can feel satisfied at the end of your workday. And, exploring new opportunities is a great way to do this.
Start within your own office. Have a conversation with your boss to see if there are any new projects or assignments you could tackle on your own. Or, if you have any ideas that you’ve been churning on for a while that you think could benefit your entire company, go ahead and pitch them! You might just wind up with a new task that you can actually feel invested in.
If you think opportunities within your own workplace are limited, don’t hesitate to look outside the four walls of your office too. Is there a cause you could volunteer with that would make you feel fulfilled? Can you join a board or professional organization that will both challenge you and benefit from your skills and expertise?
Your job isn’t the be-all and end-all. And, while it can be frustrating to not get exactly what you want out of your full-time position, there’s no rule saying you can’t get that from other sources. So, head out there, explore, and see what you can find!
There’s no denying that your job is a huge part of your everyday life. But, you simply can’t spend your time obsessing over how much you feel is lacking from your current position—it will only serve to make you feel more frustrated and exasperated.
Even if you've had a particularly tough day in the office, make sure that you leave it all behind you when it's time to wrap up your workday.
So, even if you’ve had a particularly tough day in the office, make sure that you leave it all behind you when it’s time to wrap up your workday. Don’t take that aggravation home with you and allow it to continue to fester. It usually means you’ll turn mountains into molehills, and it’ll make it even harder to head into the office with a positive attitude and a newfound sense of motivation tomorrow.
Make a List
Here it is—the cliché advice that you knew had to be coming. I know, it sounds a little cheesy and predictable, but staying positive is crucial for making it through a job that seems disheartening at times.
How can you keep your chin up? This strategy has really worked well for me in previous positions: Jot down all of the things that you actually like about your job. Whether it’s your awesome co-workers, your boss’ management style, or the fact that you have free reign over your company’s social media accounts—list out every positive attribute you can think of.
Keep that list somewhere convenient (either in a drawer of your desk or as a list on your phone), and then take a quick look at it on those days when you’re feeling particularly frustrated and discouraged. It’ll remind you of those bright sides of your current job (even if they’re few and far between), and help to take the majority of your focus off of those negatives.
If you’re currently working in a position that you don’t necessarily love and adore, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone—nearly everybody has had to tough it out through one of those jobs. Believe me, I’ve been there.
However, it’s important that you still do your best in the office, no matter how challenging and draining it can seem at times. Every position contributes to your professional reputation and overall career history—and you want that all to be positive. So, keep these tips in the back of your mind, continue pushing forward, and you’re one step closer to that dream job at the end of the tunnel!