How to Stay Motivated in a Job you Don’t Like
You’re in a job you don’t like, possibly feeling bored, unmotivated and uninspired, yet right now you have no choice but to be there. You know you need to get the work done and you don’t want people to think badly of you, BUT…you just can’t be bothered, or it all feels “meh”.
Jobs are hard enough even when you like what you’re doing, so it’s no surprise you’re lacking motivation. Whether you’re on a graduate scheme, waiting for a professional qualification, on a working visa, trying to find a new job or anything else, I feel your pain!
Very often in these situations your productivity might be low and things may take twice as long. Maybe you procrastinate, avoid the hard tasks at all costs or get distracted by something more interesting – (planning your house renovation or shopping maybe!?
Mixed into all of this can be guilt, because deep down you know you can do better but…you just don’t want to!
So the question is, what can you do? I’ve got eight steps for you to help
1. Know that this dip is normal
Know that your struggle to keep focused and motivated is 100% normal, it’s something a lot of people experience. It makes sense that if you’re unhappy or if the work doesn’t interest you then you’re not working your best. You can’t take all the blame here as often there’s multiple factors. You may have a bad boss, the culture of the company may be terrible, you may not have been given opportunities, your priorities have changed or you’re just in the wrong role.
2. Accept what is inside and outside of your control
If you’re feeling guilty or bad about your lack of motivation then you need to get 100% clear on what’s inside and outside of your control. You might find it helpful to write a list of everything that is wrong, then from this list highlight what you can and cannot control. The only things you can focus on is what you CAN control or influence. Anything else is a waste of your energy.
3. Take back control
If you’re feeling stuck then you may feel there isn’t anything you can do and you’re powerless. This then leads to you wallowing in your unhappiness. But this belief isn’t true. You DO have choices. You ARE in control. You can CHOOSE to stay. They are not forcing you to stay, you have the freedom of choice to walk away. YOU are the one in control. You can CHOOSE to do something about your situation whether try and improve your circumstances, get help or simply leave. Either way you do have a choice.
4. Make the decision to Accept, Change or Leave
When you’re clear on what you can and cannot control and you’ve looked at your situation clearly then make a decision. Either accept the situation, try and change it or leave. There’s nothing you can do beyond this. For example, if you don’t like the culture of the company, you can either stay and accept it, try and change it in someway (such as get involved in company networks or try switching departments) or you can leave.
5. Trust yourself
When you’ve made your choice it can take time for anything to happen. This can be frustrating and boring. If you’ve chosen to leave then you still need to find a job and if you’ve chosen to change your situation you still need to jump through hoops. This is where trusting yourself is vital. If you have made a decision whether to accept, change or leave and you are taking ACTION, then trust yourself. Trust that the action you’re taking will lead you forward. It’s easy for self-doubt to creep in which will drag you down and take you back into your misery. So watch out for that.
6. Get clear on your WHY
Regardless of whether you’ve chosen to accept, change or leave, get clear on your WHY. Why have you chosen to stay and accept. Why do you want to change things. Is there any deeper reason to why the work you do is important. Your job might feel boring but put it in the wider context of the company and the world. Are you helping anyone indirectly? Can you visualise someone who will benefit from your work? Often the work you do may feel boring but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. You may be contributing to a project that saves lives, keeps people warm, provides food, or something else entirely. When you connect with WHY your job is important from a bigger perspective it brings more meaning into your work. Instead of thinking about yourself, think about the old granny who’s getting heating, or the guys & gals working offshore, or the people who can start a new exciting project. Your work is bigger than you, and when you identify the purpose behind it you’ll see your job from a completely different perspective. And if you can’t connect to anything deeper then think of the money!!Get clear on how you can get the most out of your job – Once you’ve looked at the WHY behind your job you can also think about HOW you can use it. Change your mindset from “I don’t like what I’m doing and feel stuck here” to “How do I squeeze every bit of benefit from this job – because I KNOW i’ll leave at some point”. Make a list of all the benefits you can get from your current job, such as…
- Money – This is pretty basic but fundamental. Having a job for the sake of money has little meaning, HOWEVER it can still be very crucial.
- Training – Does the company offer training or anything similar that you can take advantage of before you leave?
- Experience – Does what you do now or the company you’re in crossover at all with what you want to do, and can you try and get more experience in that area, even if it’s a tiny amount?
- People – Is there anyone in your company doing a job similar to what you want to do? Can you speak to them and get as much info out of them as possible? These people may also be friends with people in other companies
- Transferable skills – Will you need to use ANY of the skills you have in your current job for where you want to go? Such as communicating, management, calculations, anything. You can think about the sort of questions you might get asked in interviews. So then instead of doing your work now for the sake of work, you’re doing it to help you with interviews down the line.
- Gaps in skills – have you looked at what skills you need in what you want to do and where you may have gaps or weaknesses? Can you use your current employer to help you plug some of those gaps?
7. Treat yourself!
If you’re finding it hard to stay motivated because times are hard right now then celebrate your wins and treat yourself! Be proud of yourself for getting through your work even if you were “slow”. You can’t expect to be perfect when you’re unhappy, and you’re certainly not going to be productive if you’re beating yourself up and feeling guilty! Use a positive reward system to motivate yourself instead. Allow yourself a slightly longer lunch break if you finish some work, watch an episode of your fav show with a cuppa if you get through a spreadsheet. Treat yourself!
Read more about my Fearless Careers coaching program here.