How do people stay happy working a job they don’t love?
How do people stay happy in a job they don’t love for 20 years? Maybe the cynical will ask Why do people stay in a job they don’t love at all?
These are important questions because by the time you retire, you have invested more time at work than any other aspect of your life. I am curious about the questions because I think that we hear a lot of messages that are untrue and unhealthy:
- “Do what you love and you will never work another day of your life.” -What we don’t hear about is the sleeplessness, stress and impacts to wellness that many entrepreneurs face.
- “Sell outs stay” – There is dignity in paying your bills, taking care of your health and your future. Some people need to leave, some people should leave and many more people decide to stay. Not everyone who stays is selling out. We only sell out if we give up on our dreams.
- “Follow your dream” – Why can’t we work a job AND hold onto our dreams? Why do we have to accept the idea that a job antithetical to having dreams. The very act of holding onto our dreams will give us energy and increase our creativity. Trust me, your boss wants you to keep your dreams.
Over the past two months I have interviewed people from across the country and the interviews have confirmed to me that for many people, staying is their best decision. Some of them have dreams to start their own business, and a few of them did just that, but later realized they were better off working in a job.
What is below is the collected wisdom from my interviews so far.
The 13 Ways to love yourself and stay in a job you don’t really love
1.Treat your job like a marriage. Don’t marry your work, because your work is just work. Put your heart into your relationships there and don’t take your work personally. Good relationships make for good work. The people make the shitty work processes and policies bearable.
2.Make a list of the benefits to you. List it all: Cash, insurance, retirement, educational, exposure, experience, mentoring… whatever you can think of.
3.Have other dreams, outside passions, hobbies and yes, even a side-hustle.
4.Find ways, each day, to bring value to the people and the workplace. Make it just a little better. If you do that, you are exercising your independence and that one factor may be the key to enlarging your heart.
5.Practice spirituality. See your work as a way to give back to others and to serve others, even by making their day brighter.
6.Find an ally, a mentor. Could be at work, at home, or in your personal life. Everything is better when you talk with someone who understands.
7.Don’t listen to your co-workers. Choose to invest yourself, grow and dream of more even when “lifers” put you down. Don’t waste your time with them.
8.Take care of yourself. It is not selfish to take care of yourself. Be aware of what you eat and exercise. Be mindful that willpower fatigue may leave you emotionally worn out because it takes a great deal of energy remaining in a job that you may not like.
9.Choose to be better rather than bitter.
10.Let your job fuel your motivations. Stay engaged at work during your 9-5, but don’t let go of your dreams for the rest of your time. You have a life outside of work. Make the most of it.
11.Work for change in your job, but realize that change will be slow and may not be what you want. Take the actions that you can and find a way to accept the results.
12.Hold onto the aspects of your job that you first loved. Memory will fade unless you actively remind yourself of your reasons for taking the job.
13.Create playlists that help you to hold onto positive feelings and your dreams.
This article is part of my ongoing series about what I call a “Creative Stayer,” someone who remains in a job that they may not love, for their own reasons. You can see my previous articles by clicking, Choose Yourself: Freedom is Found in Hard Work and Love Your Work and it Will Love You Back.
If you would like to be interviewed as part of my ongoing research, email me at [email protected] Three questions, ten minutes, one goal: what helps you to be a Creative Stayer, what reasons motivate you to stay in a job you may not love?
Photo by Rym DeCoster