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Last Updated on January 14, 2021

How to Stay Motivated If You Don’t Really Like Your Job

How to Stay Motivated If You Don’t Really Like Your Job

Most people have had jobs that didn’t excite or interest them. You might even be in a job right now that makes you feel completely unmotivated. However, for whatever reason, you need to stick with it. In that case, it’s important to learn how to stay motivated, even in less-than-perfect conditions.

Work is a huge part of our lives, so it’s important that we make it meaningful and aim it toward our passion and purpose. Even if you’re in a job that you don’t really like, it’s possible to find ways to keep improving.

Here are 10 ways to stay motivated at a job you don’t love.

1. Figure out Why You Aren’t Motivated

Do you know exactly why you are not motivated? This should be the first thing that you do. Figuring out why you aren’t motivated will give you insight into exactly what you don’t like about your job.

You may find that you like your job but don’t like working for your critical boss. Or perhaps your interests have changed over time and you don’t like the area you’re in anymore. Or maybe you love to socialize, but you’re working in a cubicle where you rarely interact with your coworkers.

Whatever the situation, try to pinpoint exactly what it is that’s bringing down your energy levels. This will help you as you learn how to stay motivated and reach your goals in the long-term.

2. Leave Your Stress at Work

This can mean multiple things. Do not bring work home if you don’t need to. If your work is what is causing you stress, then you should try to leave it completely at work at all costs, if possible.

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This also means that you shouldn’t let a bad day at work make you feel miserable at home, as well. Try to keep work and home completely separate so that you can enjoy your free time.

This may mean creating a routine for when you get home to help you disconnect from the work day you just had. Maybe you go for a short walk, sit outside and eat a snack, or read a chapter of that new book you just bought. Whatever it is, it needs to be something that pulls your mind into the present moment and away from what happened during the day.

This will help you create a work-life balance that will help up your motivation in life in general.

3. Stay Positive

If you have a negative attitude about your job, then it will probably make it difficult to learn how to stay motivated. You need to try to think as positively as you can, and have a good outlook about the tasks that you are doing.

This will, of course, require a shift in thinking. Try to challenge each negative thought you have about a task. For example, if your boss just gave you a huge project that you’re dreading, instead of saying “This is going to be awful,” try telling yourself, “This is going to be a challenge, but it’ll be a great opportunity to learn something.”

If positive thinking is particularly difficult for you, try developing a daily meditation practice. This will help you create space to take in and analyze the negative thoughts you have throughout the day.

4. Lay out an Action Plan

If you don’t plan on staying at the job that you don’t really like, then you should come up with a way to find a better job or at least work on skills that will help you get one. You can start thinking about what your next job will be, how you will get that job, whether you will need schooling, and so on.

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Once you have an idea of what this future goal looks like, enroll in some free online courses, read books from the area, or start browsing job sites to see what’s available. The simple prospect of being able to find work you enjoy more will likely do wonders in lifting your motivation levels.

5. Find Hobbies You Enjoy Outside of Work

Having something that you enjoy outside of work can really make work more enjoyable. Hobbies will allow you to take your mind off of work and truly relax.

Not only is this a great stress reliever after work, but it can help you have something to look forward to throughout the day.

6. Be a Great Worker

Even if you do not like your job, try to do the best you can with the job you have. Focus as best you can on the task at hand. If your boss appreciates your work and praises you, then you will be more likely to feel motivated on a daily basis.

You can also try to help out your coworkers. Feeling altruistic will give you a positivity boost that will help you feel good about what you’re doing.

7. Take a Break When You Need to

Now, this doesn’t mean you should stop being an efficient worker, but you should take a break when you need to. If you have been skipping your lunch break for the past ten years, you’re just hurting yourself. You should take breaks so that you can feel refreshed when you go back to work.

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When you want to know how to stay motivated at work, use your vacation days!

    Also, a recent study showed that “more than half of Americans (55%) are still not using all their paid time off”[1]. If you’ve earned vacation days, use them! That free time with your family (or alone) will give you the necessary space to relax and unwind. You’ll also be able to look forward to these blocks of time[2] throughout the year, which should do something to boost your motivation.

    8. Look Forward to Something

    I’m sure there is some reason why you can’t leave your current job. You need to think about your end goal and why you currently are where you are. Maybe you are working in this current position so that you can possibly one day get a promotion.

    Maybe you are working this less-than-motivating position because you need to pay for your college degree. In that case, you need to think about how great it will feel when you finally graduate from college.

    Whatever the reason, keep a written reminder in sight at all times to help you remember why you’re doing the job you’re doing. With that visual, you can learn how to stay motivated and set goals, even when the work is less-than-ideal.

    9. Ask for New Responsibilities

    If you’re bored with the monotony of doing the same tasks each day, go to your boss and ask if there are any new responsibilities they would be willing to give you. Perhaps they’re looking for help on a project in an area that interests you. You won’t know if you don’t ask!

    Alternatively, you can ask your boss to inform you if any other positions come up within the company. With time, you may come across an opportunity to move into something you enjoy more.

    10. Dress Like You Are Still Motivated

    It can be easy to start “letting go” and not caring about your appearance when you feel unmotivated. However, don’t adopt this mindset. Make sure that you are still dressing the part and that you still feel confident with the way that you present yourself.

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    One study, described by The New York Times, explained that “If you wear a white coat that you believe belongs to a doctor, your ability to pay attention increases sharply. But if you wear the same white coat believing it belongs to a painter, you will show no such improvement”[3].

    These results belong to a field known as embodied cognition, which says that the way we think and process information is directly related to our physical appearance. So why is this important for your job?

    If you dress well and feel confident with the clothes you wear, you’re more likely to perform better, feel better, and achieve your goals.

    Final Thoughts

    Everyone experiences days at work when they feel unmotivated, but if it’s happening every day, it’s time to take a good look at your work life. It’s possible to learn how to stay motivated, even at a job you don’t really like.

    If you find that these things still aren’t working and that you are only growing more resentful of your job, it may be time to take the required steps to find a job that will make you happier.

    More on How to Stay Motivated at Work

    Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] U.S. Travel Association: PAID TIME OFF TRENDS IN THE U.S.
    [2] The Balance Careers: Vacation Time and Pay For Employees
    [3] The New York Times: Mind Games: Sometimes a White Coat Isn’t Just a White Coat

    More by this author

    Michelle Schroeder

    Michelle is a personal finance expert. She earns $1 million per year while sailing.

    How to Stay Motivated If You Don’t Really Like Your Job 10 Ways To Always Be Yourself And Live Happily 6 Things Highly Effective Leaders Do Differently 30 Things You Need to Try at Least Once While You’re in Your 20s 10 Things Successful People Do Differently To Reach Their Dreams

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    Last Updated on March 2, 2021

    10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When Feeling Stuck

    10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When Feeling Stuck

    We have all felt stuck at some point in our lives. Perhaps you feel stuck right now. When that happens, it can feel impossible to keep moving forward toward your goals and dreams. 

    Maybe you’re feeling a little stuck working on a creative project, like writing an article or painting a piece of art. Perhaps you started a new business, took on a major project at work, or began a new health or fitness regimen. Your initial excitement has worn off, and you’re now feeling stuck, confused, or overwhelmed by how to keep progressing forward.

    Maybe you’re really stuck. You feel trapped in a job you hate, a relationship that isn’t working, a boatload of debt, or a life that has little resemblance to the one you imagined.

    Sometimes we just want to throw in the towel and give up, but don’t give up just yet.

    Whether you feel just a little stuck or like you’re stuck in dry concrete, trying to make a small or big decision or wondering what you’re doing with your life, these 10 strategies can help you keep moving forward.

    1. Take a Step Back

    Your first step forward when you feel stuck is to take a step back. Often, we try to get unstuck by pushing forward with sheer force or just trying harder. But as Einstein said,

    “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

    Access a different level of thinking by assessing your current situation from a new viewpoint. Whenever I’m working with clients who feel stuck, this is the first thing I ask them to do.

    I have them think about where they are, what got them here, and what they really want. When you step back from your life, career, and challenges and look from a bit of a distance, you see things from a different perspective.

    Your Turn:

    Imagine you are lost in the woods. You could keep moving forward, looking for your way out. You could panic and go in circles. You could head back the way you came. 

    Imagine instead that you could stop, take a deep breath, and zoom out from your situation. Imagine you could fly above it all as if you were in a helicopter and look down at yourself among the trees.

    What could you see or notice differently from this perspective – a different route, people there to support you, the way out is closer than you thought?

    Another way to zoom out is to look at your situation as a neutral observer. Imagine you’re a fly on the wall watching your life. What insights or advice would you give yourself?[1]

    2. Get Specific

    It’s hard to move forward until you fully understand why you are stuck. You have to get specific and identify what’s really going on. You must name it to tame it.

    A great mentor of mine once said,

    “A well-defined problem presents its own solution.”

    For example, there are big differences between, “I feel stuck” and “I feel stuck because I’m overwhelmed with the details” or “I feel stuck because I’m worried what people are going to think of me.” Once you name it, you are more likely to be able to tame it and keep moving forward.

    One of the most important questions I ask clients is, “What’s getting in the way?” When they answer, the next question is always, “What else?” We continue along this route until we feel we’ve gotten to the real, underlying issue(s).

    Your Turn:

    Seek to uncover the underlying issues that are getting in your way and stopping you from progressing. You can do this by journaling, talking to someone who knows you well, or simply taking the time to ask yourself these questions.

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    Once you name it, perhaps the solution will then present and tame itself.

    3. Reconnect to Your Why

    Feeling stuck is often because you’ve lost sight of the bigger picture and what’s important. You’ve lost your why.

    Why did you start this in the first place? What reasons, values, or passions drove you to make this change in your life? What picture do you have for yourself, your business, and your life? 

    By reminding yourself of your original intention and purpose, it gives you the intrinsic motivation to get back on track and move ahead.

    Connecting to your deeper ‘why’ will be the fuel that keeps you going, even through tough times and roadblocks.

    Your Turn:

    Whatever you’re stuck on right now, grab a journal and ask yourself: Why is this important to me? Why did I start this in the first place? What am I trying to achieve here, and why is that important to me?

    Join the Fast-Track Class – Activate Your Motivation and the free focused-session will guide you to figure out this “why” and help you build your motivation drive and always stay motivated. Join the free class now!

    4. Brainstorm Your Options

    We often feel stuck because we don’t see any way out from our current situation — we feel we don’t have what it takes to start opening up new doors and further our personal development.

    By brainstorming ideas and possibilities, you expand your mind and open your thinking to finding a new solution. When you can see potential options, you won’t feel so trapped anymore. 

    This is not about deciding the one thing or making the right choice, it’s about allowing your creative mind to expand and see all the potential possibilities. We often dive straight into finding the right one and eliminate anything that doesn’t feel perfect.

    That’s why so many people feel stuck. They are attempting to find the next right career, the best way to handle a situation, or the one perfect idea. This can lead to a lot of stress and analysis paralysis.

    If you hate your career, what new potential careers are on your mind? List them all out — even the ones that seem unrealistic or silly.

    If you’re unhappy in your relationship, what can you do? There are likely a lot more options than you’ve considered. What are they?

    Your Turn:

    Make a list of options for your current situation – as crazy or “out there” as they might be.

    When you think you’ve thought of everything, ask yourself, “What other options are there?” This allows you to dig deeper and see ideas you might not have otherwise explored.

    Then, and only then, can you start to identify the way forward.

    5. Take a Brain Break

    Full disclosure, I’m stealing this strategy from my 7-year-old daughter’s second-grade teacher.

    The other night I was helping my daughter with homework. She was getting super frustrated and wasn’t sure what to write in a letter to her big buddy. She was on the verge of tears when she looked up and asked, “Mom, can I take a brain break?”

    She got up from the table, walked downstairs to her room, and played with her stuffed animals. When she came upstairs a short time later, she was as happy as could be and jumped right into her writing.

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    We could all use a brain break when we’re stuck. Shifting focus gives our brains a chance for quiet; it takes the pressure off so we can come back with a fresh mind and new perspective.

    When we take a brain break, it refreshes our thinking and helps us discover another solution to a problem or see a situation through a different lens. The brain break actually helps to incubate and process new information.[2]

    A great brain break is to do something physical that gets you in flow. Take a hike, a run, a walk around the block. Another well-known brain break is meditation — which has so many proven benefits I can’t even begin to name them all. 

    Your Turn:

    What kind of brain breaks can you give yourself? Which would be most helpful?  It’s not just for second graders anymore.

    Here’re some ideas for you: 21 Counter-Intuitive Brain Break Ideas to Boost Your Productivity

    6. Let Go of What’s Not Working

    Have you ever walked through the mud and had your boot get stuck and your foot fly out? When this happens, you usually have two choices: either put your boot back on and keep plodding through, repeating the frustration as it continually gets stuck, or you can take off that boot and move forward.

    The same is true in life. When we get stuck, we often stay in the mud and try to drag our boot along. We keep doing what’s clearly not working. The boot represents limiting beliefs, old habits, or stories you’re telling yourself.

    Remember in the movie “Up” when Mr. Fredricksen is trying to get his house to fly? It was too heavy. He had to dump out his belongings until the house was light enough to lift off.

    The same is true here; you’ve got to get rid of the emotional baggage you’re carrying so you can move forward with small steps and achieve your goals.

    Take my client *Lucy for example. She was having trouble finding a job she was interested in. Through our work together, we uncovered that Lucy had an interesting belief: that having a job and being happy were mutually exclusive.

    This meant she was either going to be jobless and joyful or employed and miserable. In order to move forward in her career search, she needed to take off this “boot” and believe she could find a job where she could, in fact, be happy.

    Your Turn:

    What’s holding you back — an old habit, limiting belief, or story you are telling yourself? How can you reframe your thinking in order to change the direction you are headed?

    Use this Worksheet For Instant Motivation Boost to help you figure out all the answers. Get your free worksheet here.

    7. Know What You Need to Get Unstuck

    We all have a way in which we operate that is unique to us. When you understand how you’re wired, you can understand more specifically what you need to get unstuck. 

    For me, I need a crystal-clear picture of what I’m trying to achieve and a big, tangible goal to reach for.  When I don’t have a clear picture of the end result or challenging target I’m trying to hit, I feel stuck and unmotivated. 

    Here are some common needs: 

    A step-by-step plan, to understand why something is important, deadlines and impending pressure, unconditional encouragement and support, to think things through, connecting to a deeper meaning, freedom, and flexibility, and certainty.

    Do you relate to any of these?

    Your Turn:

    What do you need to get unstuck? Think about what will help you be your best self and work through your problems. Maybe it’s a step-by-step plan, deadlines, a support system, or connection to a deeper meaning.

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    8. Shift Your State

    Instead of placing all your focus and energy on the problem, shift your focus and energy to another part of life. Go do something that brings you joy; spend time with someone you love.

    Do anything to shift your state and mood. This will switch your downward cycle of doom and gloom into an upward cycle of hope and possibility.

    A great way to shift your state away from negative emotions is to practice gratitude. So, you hate your job. Practice gratitude for other areas of your life. Does it support your family or allow you to work remotely?

    Keep moving forward by practicing gratitude

      I’m not saying you should stay in a job you hate; I’m just recommending that you get perspective. A state shift brings energy, hope, and positivity into your mindset…keys to getting out of that dreaded stuck cycle.

      Your Turn:

      What always puts you in a good mood? What brings you joy, happiness or fulfillment? Do it, and make sure to practice gratitude. Try this: each morning for the next week, write down three things you are grateful for.

      9. Take Action

      Getting into action is critical to getting unstuck. There’s no substitute for momentum. Action enables further action, while inactivity creates inertia, self-doubt, and confusion.

      Successful people know this, which is why they continuously push out of their comfort zone.

      I love this quote from Simon Sinek:

      “If we think of everything we have to do, we feel overwhelmed. If we do the one thing we need to do, we make progress.”

      My client Marcus (not his real name) had just made a career move and was setting out to start his own wellness business. The biggest problem getting in his way? Inertia.

      The more he thought about what he was going to do, the bigger the endeavor began to feel. The more he explored the risks, challenges, and his extensive to-do list, the more he felt overwhelmed. He was stuck. 

      However, once he took action, starting with quick wins, he gained momentum and was able to move forward and tackle bigger and more challenging steps. Once he broke through his inaction, he was on a roll.

      My grandfather always told us: a path leads to a path. We can’t know what the future holds and trying to figure out everything before we start is a recipe for disaster.

      Know that a path will start leading us down new paths, but you have to start walking first.

      Your Turn:

      What’s the next step you can take to move forward? Where is there a quick win?

      When you think about your first (or next) step, keep it small and achievable to get the momentum going.

      10. Reach out for Help

      We can all use a little help when we’re stuck. This might be talking to a good friend who knows and understands you or reaching out to get advice from someone who’s been in a similar situation to yours.

      Maybe it’s hiring a coach who will ask powerful questions to help you see things from a different angle, a therapist who can uncover hidden roadblocks, or a consultant to share opinions and experiences.

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      When you’re on your own, it can feel hopeless, overwhelming, and just plain impossible. But, a little push or pull from someone can quickly change your trajectory.

      While this may seem like one of the easiest strategies, it is actually one of the hardest to do. Why? Even though we are biologically wired to help each other, many of us find it challenging to reach out.

      There’s a reason for this:[3]

      “Asking for help exposes us to numerous possible social threats, which is why it’s so uncomfortable. It can feel like a tacit admission of weakness, which lowers our status, and can be an invitation for scorn. It creates uncertainty, and invites the possibility of rejection.”

      Your Turn:

      Could you benefit from asking for help in this situation? Who can you reach out to ask for help right now?

      Not ready to reach out to someone just yet? Maybe you can try asking the universe. Some call this prayer, others spiritual guidance, others faith.  Whatever you call it, reach out.

      Afraid to ask for help? Here’s how to change your outlook to aim high!

      Bonus: When All Else Fails, Be Patient

      Sometimes when we’re stuck, we just need to practice patience. Patience that you’ve done all that you can and now, it’s time to wait and see what comes back to you.

      I’m not suggesting you wait for months or years; but sometimes we expect things to change quickly, yet things take time. This is especially true for big life decisions and transitions or when there are others involved, like your relationships or job.

      I love the line from Max Ehrmann’s’ Desiderata:

      “…whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”  

      Trust the unfolding, and know that sometimes it may take a little longer than you’d like.

      There’s usually a good reason, even if you can’t see it. Maybe it’s not time to move forward or make changes just yet. Maybe you don’t have all the information you need, and when you do, you’ll quickly make progress. Maybe you’re actually stuck where you need to be right now.

      When I was in my most recent major career transition, feeling stuck and wondering if I would ever figure out my next step, this quote from Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu was exactly what I needed:

      “Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?”

      Stay strong. Be patient. The more stuck you are, the greater the freedom will feel.

      Final Thoughts

      Which of these strategies feel like they will work best for you and your current stuck situation?

      You don’t have to use all of them; it just takes one to help you keep moving forward.

      Remember, any movement, momentum or shift will help get you unstuck and move forward with your life. Besides, it’s never too late to start things over!

      More to Help You Get Unstuck

      Featured photo credit: Michał Parzuchowski via unsplash.com

      Reference

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