A couple of years ago, I hit a wall with my job. And by a wall, I mean I was so burnt out that the thought of spending 8 hours a day at my desk exhausted me.
I didn’t hate my job, mind you, I just found it horribly unfulfilling. The spark was gone. And being in my mid-30s the thought of doing this kind of work until retirement left me throwing up in my mouth.
I spent a weekend doing a bit of navel-gazing self-reflection and was able to change my mindset about my job. And let’s be real for a minute: most people are not working their dream job and many jobs are not anyone’s dream.
It took me the better part of a year to work through all of this on my own. Here is how I did it, so you don’t have to spend that much time spinning your wheels.
Remember why you work there in the first place.
Unless you work in the seventh ring of hell (and you might), your job probably has a few redeeming qualities. Maybe it is the excellent benefits. Or it could be that it is within walking distance of your apartment. Perhaps your manager is delightful. Or the job is super flexible so you have more time with your kids or can take weeks off at a time.
Keep these things in mind as you go through your workday; it may help you realize that your job is not all bad.
Do some soul searching.
Set aside some quiet time with a beverage of your choice, some paper, and your favorite pen and think about what you love to do. Write down the hobbies that you lose yourself in, anything skills you would like to develop or have a knack for, and the parts of your job that you do love.
Take the parts of your job that you do enjoy and lean in.
Hopefully, you were able to find some parts of your job that you do enjoy. Spend some time focusing on these parts of your career and develop your skills in these areas.
Make the boring parts of your job more fun.
There are parts of my job that are mindless, repetitive work. That is when I pull out my headphones and turn on an audiobook or podcasts. Audiobooks might not be your jam, but there are ways to jazz things up a bit. Chat with coworkers while you do inventory or make a game out of stuffing envelopes.
Develop relationships with coworkers.
Like it or not, you will spend just as much (if not more) time with your coworkers than you will with your partner or family. Your work life will be much easier if you make a few work-friends. Work-friends give you a good escape when you need to get away from your desk, someone to vent to about the crabby customer you just talked to, and a buddy to take a quick lunchbreak walk you.
Make an exit strategy.
Some jobs are not particularly fulfilling. If that is a dealbreaker for you and you find yourself in one of those jobs, it is time to come up with an exit strategy.
Maybe you can transition to a different position within your company that is more within your skillset. Or you can start a side business and think of your day job as your first investor. The same goes for going back to school: take classes online and think of your work as a means to an end.
Working at an unfulfilling job is a pretty gross situation to be in, but with a few mindset shifts (and an exit plan) you can stop the drift and focus on something that you do love.
Do you have a lack-luster job? How are you dealing with it?
One more quick note: You might very well find out after doing all of the soul-searching that your current job, while not something that is going to light your fire, is still the right solution for you. That is great! And don’t let anyone tell you that you need to change.