How to stay motivated when you hate your job

Published on September 12, 2023

If you’ve decided to stay in a job that doesn’t work for you anymore, chances are you’ve done so for a reason that makes complete sense to you right now. But if you’re feeling rather negative about it and you’re looking for ways to make this work for you, here are a few ideas that will work.

1. Own the decision

You may feel like you have no choice but to stay in this job. Consider that we always have a choice and that it is actually quite powerful to decide to stay in a job you hate.

You could always look for another job, or completely ignore the situation that requires you to stay in the job, or borrow money, etc. Not saying you should, I am just pointing out there are always choices.

However, you are choosing to stay. It’s not that you don’t have a choice- because feeling that kind of sucks, it’s constraining and frustrating and will make you feel resentful. And although the choices available to you might also suck, they are choices nevertheless. So you’re choosing to stay, for a very good reason. 

Whatever that reason is, get very clear on it. Remind yourself of it everytime you feel down. I am doing it for this reason. Think of the goal ahead that needs you to stay in the job.

2. Set a timeframe

You also don’t have to do it forever. Let’s say you’re doing it because your mortgage rate is up soon and you want to make sure you’re employed when you apply for the next one. Or maybe you want to start a business and you need some savings to bridge the gap. 

How long do you need? Set a timeline so you know there is an end in sight.

Knowing WHY and setting a timeline will help you feel more in control. This is not happening to you, you’re making it work for you.

3. Create more reasons to be motivated

Firstly, let’s not pretend it will always be fun, because it won’t. But a trick to doing the things you don’t love is to combine them with activities you enjoy. 

For instance, create those slides while listening to some music you love.

The meetings that bring you down? Create a coffee date routine before those meetings with your favourite colleagues.

But the more powerful move is to create even more reasons to feel motivated by bringing more of what you like into the job. 

A client of mine recently came up with a list of things they could do to make the job more inspiring and impactful and some examples were:

- Going to more industry specific events
- Organising a fun away day for the team
- Focus more on developing their team and supporting them

Create a similar list for yourself. 

4.  Build relationships

Having to be in a role you don’t enjoy can feel quite lonely so spend more time making friends at work and building those relationships. The idea here is not to spend more time whining about work with more people. That will simply drain you. 

Instead, actively seek out people who seem to enjoy the work or the company and find out what is driving them. What do they do? What do they do when their motivation is low?

You also don’t always have to focus on work when it comes to building these relationships - in fact, you might find it more fun not to. Maybe seek out people who share your hobbies and interests. 

Consider networking as well, especially if you’ve decided to stay put for now. Most people only network when they need a job but if you do it now, you will find it less icky because you don’t need a job. 

You might want one, yes, but you don’t need it. So you’ll be more likely to speak to people without an agenda, just building relationships. Time spent building relationships will always pay off eventually.

5. Use your time outside of work well

It may feel tempting to wallow in self-pity but mindset is almost everything when it comes to staying motivated in a job that sucks. 

Your wellbeing is crucial also. Outside work, find ways to re-energise yourself. If you’re staying in the job for the sake of the house or the kids, then find ways to enjoy the house and time with your kids.

Find other ways to look after yourself,  pursue your hobbies and your interests. 

Being intentional about staying motivated requires a lot of mental and emotional effort, so look after yourself in any way you can.

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