How To Stay Motivated At A Job You Hate

Did you just land your dream job or make a ‘great career move’, only to find that a few months in you dread heading into work each morning? Or maybe you just busted one in university, landed your first job in the industry, and realize that you actually HATE it? Perhaps you think you made the wrong career choice and find yourself panicking about what the heck to do next?

Trust me—you’re not the only one.

Actually, this is one of the most common struggles facing Millennials and Gen Z’ers. And in a time where literally anything is possible, you shouldn’t have to settle for a job that doesn’t bring you happiness—so don’t worry; you aren’t stuck at that desk forever.

That being said, as great as it would be to send your resignation email in now, most people can’t afford to do this without another means of income lined up. So, how do you stay motivated at a job you hate until you find your true calling? Read on…

Improve Your Mornings

Believe it or not, having some me time each morning can really set you up for a more positive day at work. Instead of rolling out of bed in the dark and immediately heading out for that dreaded morning commute, you’ll find that even spending 20 minutes doing something for you will help you get out of bed easier and improve your overall happiness. Best of all, you’ll find that it will help you stay motivated at a job you hate!

You can try: making a nice breakfast, watching an episode of your favourite TV show, exercising or meditating, reading, writing poetry or working on that path to career happiness!

I always start my morning with meditation- it’s a great way to get out of bed instead of hitting snooze a dozen times. There are several apps you can try for free before committing, including: Calm, Headspace and The Mindfulness App. You can also find PLENTY of guided meditation on Youtube, which you could build a playlist out of for ease each morning.

Figure Out Why You’re Feeling This Way

Is it the company, the role or the actual career path? What do you need to be happy at work? The answer may not come quick or easy, and will require some serious soul searching beyond answering a few simple questions.

Hiring a career coach or signing up for a ‘find your passion’ course online might be worth it if you truly don’t know why you’re miserable at work. If you have an idea of what it might be, try making a list that considers the following:

  • What you love doing
  • What you’re good at doing.
  • Is there another role within your chosen career that would intrigue you more? Sometimes we feel pressured to find a job and stick with it for several years because it’s a ‘good’ job—but this isn’t always right. It’s OK to switch jobs every few months until you find the right role, and the right company, for you.
  • Role models: people living the future you want – what about their lives do you love?
  • Are there other careers that intrigue you? Would you consider going back to school? If so, try shadowing someone in a role that you are interested in- this will help you gauge if this new career path is right for you

There are a lot of blogs dedicated to helping people like you find their passion- put aside a weekend to do some research and write down what resonates with you.

Check on Your Health

Have you considered your mental health? Whether this is new territory for you or something that you’ve struggled with before, it might be worth visiting your GP and discussing how you feel. Sometimes, feelings of being trapped in life can creep up on us and make us suffer from mental distress. I did another post on what you can do about those feelings, here.

Depression and anxiety contribute tremendously to our daily motivation and can make even the most exciting things seem dull—finding a way to manage these symptoms might help you figure out your next steps to career happiness.

Set Daily Task Goals

Even if it’s a small task, feeling like you’ve accomplished something at work each day can spark motivation and inspiration. I find that a visual reminder is always best, so you can cross it off at the end of each day!

You can try: Download the Google Chrome plugin Momentum—it changes your Internet homepage to a different scenic photo and inspirational quote each day, and lets you keep track of your “daily goal.” Once the goal is completed, you’re able to joyously cross it off on-screen.

Look forward to something; short-term and long-term

Having something to look forward to is essential. Join an activity or sport after work that gives you something to channel your energy into, or connect with friends more regularly. Giving yourself something to work towards in a few months time—book a flight, treat yourself to a new gadget or buy tickets to see your favourite musician. This will help you stay motivated at a job you hate!

You can try: I find hot yoga to be the perfect activity for dealing with stress. It’s relaxing, yet active, and really allows you to open up from within. There is something nice about sweating out all of those emotions and having time to connect with yourself. Most studios offer a reduced price ‘intro month’ so not much commitment is required, either.

Do your best

Nothing is worse than falling behind at work and having that pressure from your boss add on to your stress. When you’re at work, try to do your best to at least appear like you’re enjoying yourself. This will help you hold down what pays the bills, keep your boss off your back, and give you as much time as you need to make the right decision for you.

Most importantly… remember that this feeling isn’t forever. It’s ok to sulk or have a tough day when you need to—you’re human. To stay motivated at a job you hate means to make room mentally for all the great things you are on your way to achieving.  Take it one day at a time, and I promise, you will get there.


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