Having an unfulfilling day job completely sucks, but only if you let it.
I’m not saying that you need to trick yourself into loving your a job that you know ‘isn’t for you’ or that you should never leave. No, I’m a BIG believer in chasing your dreams.
But if you think about it, that job you’re hating on is probably someone else’s ideal job (no matter what job you’re in). Which means that it’s not necessarily the job that’s the problem, it’s the way you’re thinking about it.
All I’m saying is that if you’re going to be staying in your unfulfilling day job for at least a few more months, you may as well figure out how you can make the most of it!
Here are some ways you can get the most out of a job you ‘hate’:
1. Learn the skills you’ll need for your dream job
So you have a completely unfulfilling day job – check. You feel like you do the same old shit day in and day out – check. You would way rather be doing something else (even if you have NO idea what that actually is) – check!
But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a hell of a lot you can learn from your current day job, even if you absolutely hate it.
I’ve had A LOT of unfulfilling day jobs, but I feel like I’ve managed to make the most of them by seeing them as an opportunity to learn the skills I want later in my career.
I tried to ask myself questions like:
- How can I do [insert mundane task] in a shorter time with better results?
- What can I do to help my manager with her job that isn’t expected of me?
- Is there a system I could put in place that would make this job easier?
- Was the way I taught to do [insert mundane task] really the best way? Is there another way that would work better?
- What would make this customer’s experience even better?
- What words and phrases can I use to make the email I’m writing as succinct as possible? What can I cut out?
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not perfect. While I did ask myself these questions, there were a lot of times that I didn’t too.
But I really do believe that I learned SO many of the skills I have today from my unfulfilling day jobs. There are so many opportunities to learn, we just have to look for them.
2. Constantly practice your networking skills
We all know that it’s ‘who you know’ not ‘what you know’ that matters. And if it’s who you know that matters, then it’s pretty damn important that we have what it takes to put ourselves out there and meet other people.
An unfulfilling day job is the perfect place to hone your networking skills. Whether you’re a lawyer or a check-out chick, you have the opportunity to practice networking with people every single time you go to work.
So does this apply to you if you’re in a completely unfulfilling day job that is in a totally different industry to the one you want to end up in? Fuck yes it does, because you’re just trying to develop the skills.
Here’s what you should do:
Practice starting conversations with people outside of your regular work circle. Practice asking interesting questions. Practice keeping the focus on what the other person is saying, rather than replying with a sentence starting with ‘I’. And practice these skills with everyone you can – from the CEO to the janitor, the customers you see on a daily basis to the customers you know you will never see again.
It might seem like this is a pointless exercise if you want to change industries but it’s definitely not (remember it’s the skill you’re trying to develop here, not the connections).
If you’re not using your unfulfilling day job to practice your networking skills you’re missing an amazing opportunity!
3. Use it to support your side hustle
There’s actually some good news about having an unfulfilling day job – it means you have a day job. And that means that you have an income.
And if you have an income, that means you have funding to support a side hustle.
Maybe you want to build an empire. Maybe you want to design clothes. Maybe you want to be a freelance writer. Maybe you want to create apps. Maybe you want to change industries. Maybe you want to be a Broadway star. Maybe you want to be a doctor. Maybe you want to start a blog. Maybe you want to design websites. Maybe you want to be a teacher. Maybe you want to be an artist. Maybe you want to create and sell a 12 week exercise program. Maybe you want to write a book.
It doesn’t really matter what your side hustle is, having an income means that you don’t need to rely on your side hustle to pay your bills. And that frees up a whole lot of creativity and creates a lot less stress.
You might think that having an unfulfilling day job means you don’t have time to spend on your side hustle but in almost all cases that isn’t true – it’s called a side hustle for a reason.
If you really want it you have to make time for it. You might have to get up earlier or go to bed later than you want to. You might have to miss some parties. You might have to say no to things you want to say yes to.
And if you’re not prepared to do those things then maybe you don’t really want it, and that’s ok too.
4. Use it as motivation to chase your dreams
As I mentioned at the top of this post, I’m a big believer that we should chase our dreams.
I believe it’s possible to love your day job. I believe you can get whatever it is you want (if you’re prepared to work damn hard over the course of many years and/or decades). I believe you don’t have to settle for an unfulfilling day job.
But that’s what I believe. What do you believe?
Do you believe it’s possible to love your day job, to get whatever you want, to leave your unfulfilling day job? And if you do, what are you going to do about it?! You don’t need to have a clear action plan but you need to make a decision.
You need to decide you’re not going to settle.
There’s a high chance you don’t even know what your dream is. Or that deep down you know what it is, but you’re too scared to admit it to yourself (because holy shit what if you don’t get it?!).
Deciding that you’re worthy of having a day job that you love, of getting what you want and of leaving your unfulfilling day job can be super scary. It’s going to bring up a lot of fear, a lot of doubt and a lot of probing questions from your family and friends requiring you to defend your decision.
You don’t need to know what your dream job is.
Just decide that you’re worth it. Decide that you will leave your unfulfilling day job, whether it’s this week, this year or in 10 year’s time. Decide that it will happen.
5. Realise you actually want to go to your day job
Ok hear me out on this one – you go to your unfulfilling day job because you want to go to it, not because you have to.
We often say that we have to go to work because we have to pay the bills, but that’s not actually true. You don’t have to pay any bills. Actually, thousands of people choose not to pay their bills. And thousands more choose not to work.
But not you.
You want to go to work because you want to pay the bills. You don’t want the consequences that come with not paying for things. You don’t want debt collectors down your throat, you don’t want to be financially stressed, you don’t want to go bankrupt.
And you want to go to work because you want to buy pretty things and incredible experiences. You want to have money for new clothes and going out to nice dinners and travelling. You want to have money to buy gifts for other people and to go to Sephora. You want to have money, period.
So even if you hate your crappy, unfulfilling day job understand that you do have a choice. It’s a small mindset shift to make but it can be absolutely huge in terms of its effect on your attitude. Knowing that you’re at work because you want to be makes it so much better. Even if it’s not a fulfilling job, even if you would rather be somewhere else.
You’re there because you want to be and that makes all the difference.
Do you have an unfulfilling day job?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments – do you have an unfulfilling day job? And if so, how are you going to make the most of it?
Such a good post, especially the first tip. I enjoy learning and always looking for ways to learn more. This is why I enjoy MOOCs such as Coursera.org and Edx.org for free online learning (I talk about this a lot on my science blog). I always like to say if you want to learn something just learn it. There are so many resources available these days.
I LOVE this Sam. I’m teaching English abroad and quickly realized it’s not my thing! There are plenty of things I don’t like about my job and it can be tough sometimes to get through it, but I started doing some things to make it better. Just last week I realized I could focus my attention on what I do like, it’s not all bad I’m mean holy cow I get paid to live in another country! I also started listening to uplifting podcasts or audiobooks on my commute. It took my mind off the job and I started showing up with a better attitude. My contract is almost up, so I’m trying to get the most out of the time I have left!
I will not say I have an unfulling day job, however, I am demotivated to go to work, plenty times. I definitely apply these tips daily and see how it turns out.
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Thank you for this post. I have been dealing with insatisfaction with my jobs for a few months now. I have left a job that was in the right field for me, but I had to quit because of conflicts with a boss. I changed jobs and it is not working out at all. I am a little discouraged right now and reading this helped me see that my focus has been wrong. I will try to apply some of those tips, especially the one about wanting to go to work. Thanks!
Thanks for this! xx
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