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“The key to happiness is to find a job doing what you love.”
Great in theory, but it doesn’t always pan out in practice. The truth is, sometimes you end up locked in a job you don’t love because it’s economically beneficial. That doesn’t mean you have to be miserable! Today, I’m going to share 3 ways to cope with a job you don’t love, and even be happy in spite of it!
Focus on the carrot, not the stick
Sometimes when you don’t love your work, it can be difficult to find anything positive about it. However, if you can’t quit your job in search of a different position, there has to be something good that your current job provides – a good income, health insurance, a flexible schedule.
Rather than focusing on what your current position costs you (the stick), focus on what you get in return (the carrot). Instead of, “I can’t quit this position I hate because…,” think, “This position gives me access to…”
Next, take it a step further and tie that carrot to your goals. Then, define how you and your family will benefit from reaching those goals.
For example, “This job gives me access to more income so I can save for a down payment on a house. Once we have our house, my kids will have their own rooms, and I’ll have more space for entertaining.”
Finally, turn that sentence into a little mantra to remind yourself why you bother to show up on your toughest days at the office. Write something like, “I’m here for the down payment” and keep it on your desk. When things get stressful, take a deep breath and say it to yourself.
Look past your less-than ideal job and focus on the goals behind it. As a result, you’ll be future-oriented. Your current, icky job will become nothing more than a means to the end of reaching your goals.
Pursue your passions outside of work
For most of the year, I work 6 days a week, 60 hours a week at the same job. When people hear that, their eyes kind of bug out. “What?? How can you stand that? You must really love what you do!”
“No, I don’t love it,” I reply. “…But I don’t mind it. It allows me to do what I love outside of work.”
I realized a long time ago that I had two choices regarding my career. I could either:
- Find a job doing something I love, or
- Find a job that would support my ability to do what I love outside of work
I chose the latter. Why?
Because I discovered that I can balance an economically rewarding, yet unfulfilling job by leading a robust life away from the office.
Balance an economically rewarding, yet unfulfilling job by leading a robust life away from the office.
It’s a lot easier to head to a less-than-ideal job each day knowing you have upcoming plans to do something you love. Schedule time every week to do something that brings you joy. Big adventures or little breaks, it doesn’t matter. Mix it up!
If you love tennis, create a standing date with a friend to hit the court once a week. Love reading? Schedule yourself time to read that new book by your favorite author. If you’re passionate about camping, make plans to check out new gear at your local sporting goods store, and schedule a season’s worth of camping trips with friends ahead of time. Even the simplest of passions, like soaking in a hot bath or getting a massage, can relieve work-related stress and positively impact your mood.
It’s even easier to tolerate a less-than-ideal job when it provides you with the means to pursue your passions. That could be in the form of:
- Extra income to support a hobby
- A generous vacation policy to allow time off to pursue an interest, or
- A flexible schedule to fit favorite activities into your day
A job which supports your ability to pursue your passions is another great opportunity for a carrot mantra! For example, “I’m here to pay for my riding lessons.” (Guilty…)
Create a job escape plan
If you truly dislike your job but can’t walk away due to economic reasons, create an escape plan. Not one that involves placing your boss’s belongings in Jell-O or crawling through the air vents. I’m talking about something a little more strategic. A plan that will get the ball rolling toward the next stage – and career change – in your life.
You can start by answering these questions:
- Why don’t I like my current job?
- What would I like to do instead?
- Which steps do I need to take to get there?
- How can my current job help me achieve that goal?
Don’t be afraid to be specific. In fact, be very specific! Spell out exactly what you want. Give yourself step-by-step instructions. Add each one to your calendar or to-do list. Then, set a deadline.
Check in with yourself monthly or even weekly to ensure you’re on track, and that you’re taking action regularly toward your career change. Keep a list of everything you’ve done to reach your goal of getting a new job. Finally, let supportive family and friends know that you’re preparing to make a career change, and ask them to hold you accountable.
By giving yourself a plan to move on from your current job, you’ll flip the switch on the light at the end of the tunnel. The more progress you make on the path toward a career change, the less unhappy you’ll feel about your current job.
The whole point is…
It’s not always possible to make money doing what you love. Many people find economic security in a job that they don’t particularly enjoy. And that’s okay. However, it is possible to cope with a job that is less than ideal:
Focus on the carrot, not the stick by identifying the economic benefit you gain from the job. Next, tie that benefit into your life goals. Then, define how you and your family will benefit from reaching those goals. Finally, create a mantra which states exactly why you show up to work every day.
Pursue your passions outside of work to increase feelings of happiness and fulfillment. Schedule time to do things you enjoy so you have something outside of work to look forward to. Bonus points if that job you love to hate supports your ability to pursue the things you love to do!
Create an escape plan by identifying your preferred job, and developing an action plan to get there. Set a deadline for your career change. Hold yourself accountable for achieving it, and recruit others to hold you accountable, too.
Have you ever had a job you didn’t love? How did you cope with it? Were you able to move on to a new stage in your career? Tell me in the comments below!