Inside: Learn how to love your job when it’s not the job you want. Strategies to make the best of the situation and prepare yourself to take on a new role when the time is right.
As a career coach I talk a lot about job search strategies because when people come to a career coach, that’s what’s on their mind. Figuring out what they want to do next and then navigating their job search.
But what happens when switching jobs isn’t an option for you right now? Like, for instance, during a recession when companies are freezing hiring or when your family obligations require a lot of stability that your current role provides.
This isn’t to say you can’t job search right now. You absolutely can and there are jobs out there! Not all companies are freezing hiring and it’s important if you are in a job search that you do your research and utilize these steps to keep your remote job search moving right along.
However, if you are lucky enough to have steady employment right now, but you really don’t love your job, there are other things you can do in the meantime to help you find joy and fulfillment in your current role.
7 Strategies to Help You Learn How to Love Your Job
Ready to get started? We’ll break this down into 7 strategies that will help you learn how to love your job, even if you really want to quit.
(Oh and I included some Space Jam gifs because my kids are I obsessed with it, I loved this movie as a 90s kid, and the gifs are actually highly relevant. As always, we’re making this fun up in here!)
1. Pinpoint the Problems
I don’t like to start negative, but you’re here because you don’t like your job so let’s start where you’re head’s at.
But instead of thinking “I hate this job!” think specifically about what you don’t like. Write down a list. Are you not challenged by the work? Working too many hours? Physically taxed? Too many meetings? Difficult manager or coworkers? These are all legitimate reasons to not love your job but I want you to go through this exercise of pinpointing so that you see exactly what the problems are.
Then go back and think about which of these problems might be fixable in the short term. For example, a toxic relationship with a colleague may seem impossible to get past, but have you had a talk with them about your working relationship and how it could be improved? Sometimes people honestly don’t know how they are frustrating others and you need to have a direct conversation.
Not every problem is short-term fixable. But getting specific about what is bugging you will help you determine the criteria by which you are judging future opportunities and ensure you don’t land in the same spot.
2. Find the Good
Now onto the good stuff. There are some parts of your job that are good, even if they seem hard to find at first.
Studies have shown that actively being grateful for the people/things in your life is good for your mental and physical health and can help cultivate a positive mindset. That’s why gratefulness journals have been all the rage. But if journaling is not your jam, you can reap some similar rewards just by spending five minutes on this total.
Get your pen and paper back out and write down the good things that come with your job. For example, a steady paycheck, benefits, co-workers you like, flexibility, certain projects you enjoy, or autonomy.
Try doing this with a five-minute timer so you’re forcing yourself into sitting with it and not just writing down “paycheck” and walking away. If you dig in, there can be more good to focus on that can help you truly appreciate, and maybe even like, your current job.
3. Focus on Flow
Focusing on flow is different than focusing on the good stuff. Flow is best described as being “in the zone.” You’re doing work that you enjoy doing, you’re doing it well, and you’re so focused that you lose track of time. Flow is basically the opposite of watching the clock.
So think about your current job and when you get into flow. Is there a specific project that you get sucked into and makes you feel really productive? Can you take on more projects like that?
Or, if you don’t feel like you get into flow at work, where do you get into flow outside of work? Can you bring any of those interests or experiences into your work? Think creatively about this and try to maximize the amount of time you feel super productive and happy, even if this isn’t your dream job.
4. Build Your Skills
You have great skills. Loads of skills! And if you are questioning that, check out this post on transferable skills then give yourself a nice pat on the back for being so awesome.
There are always opportunities to learn more new skills though. Talk to people who work in your ideal work function or industry. What skills are most valued in those roles? Could you build up some new knowledge by taking a free online class after the kids go to bed? Or could you volunteer to contribute to a project at work that will require you to take on a leadership role or dive deeper into Excel/Photoshop/Social Media Marketing?
When your brain is in learner mode, you’ll feel more energized and inspired by your work. You may even learn to love your job because you’re trying something new that totally clicks with you!
5. Side Hustle
The idea of adding more work to your plate right now might seem bonkers, or it could be exactly what you need to feel excited about work again.
In so many of my conversations with coaching clients the idea of starting their own business comes up. It may be a passing comment, or a seed of an idea, but it’s there. The problem is that most people feel like that the dream is out of reach, or that they don’t have the time or resources to even really think about it.
Now sure, if you want to open up your own concert venue maybe now isn’t the right time. But an online service-based business? A blog? An Etsy shop? Absolutely! These are all things that you can do on the side that will help you stay inspired each day, build new skills, and take you one step closer to making your business your full-time gig or meeting new people who could help you land a new role.
6. Help Someone
Mr. Rogers told us to “look for the helpers” when things got tough for good reason. Helpers are the ones charging in to save the day, lifting people up, or making others feels safe and secure. Helpers are amazing!
You can be a helper too, no matter what your job is. There may be a less experienced colleague who could use your guidance or a listening ear. Or perhaps a new college grad wants to know how to break into your industry. Maybe your skills could be useful in a different department and you could jump in on a brainstorm, website project, or customer interviews.
When you find ways to help someone else by doing what you do best, you get a rush of positive vibes and the warm fuzzy feeling of making someone else’s day better. That feeling sticks around and can make you feel more positive about other aspects of your job that are less appealing. Helping also broadens your network and you know how I feel about networking!
7. Talk It Out
In my upcoming book, When Mommy Grows Up, I have an entire chapter called “Use Your Words.” It’s about how we teach our kids to use their words instead of moping in the corner or lashing out with their fists because words have power, and we need to be reminded of that as adults too.
Your boss might have no idea that you’re drowning in work and need some help. Or she might not know that you have another amazing skill that could be utilized in the office.
I’ll happily use myself as an example here. I didn’t tell my manager (whom I have been reporting to for nine years) I was a writer until a few years ago, and I didn’t even really tell her. She saw some of my writing on LinkedIn. This is someone I trust, respect, and consider a friend. What was I being so weird about?
When my manager found out I had this skill set it quickly spread throughout my office that I could write well and wanted to write more. Now I spend about a third of my time writing in my day job. That’s huge and my happiness at work soared!
I’m not suggesting you go marching into your boss’s virtual office space and telling her that you hate your job. Not at all! You might not even hate it, just be feeling an itch for something new. Instead, open up a conversation about how you would like to find ways to use your creativity, analytical skills, research ability, or relationship-building skills in new ways and suggest a project you could work on, or ask for her input. Your manager is not a mind reader, my friend. You have to use your words!
Can’t be with the one you love? Try to find ways to love the one you’re with and you’re going to reap the benefits. You’ll be happier in the short term AND more prepared in the long term. That’s a double win!
Ready to kickstart a search for a new role while actively trying to love your job? You can do both. Try out these job search sites, including FlexJobs, The Mom Project, and LinkedIn.
And if you need some support along the way, I’ll be right here!