Think big. Don’t settle. Find your passion. Get your dream job. Follow your bliss.
For many of us, those messages are thrown at us from a young age. We’re made to believe that we can do great things and that we shouldn’t settle for anything less. And then we’re saddled with tens of thousands in student loan debt and a worldwide economic crisis and dismal job prospects and expected to be grateful if we can even find a job.
Kind of mixed messages, hmm?
The reality for most people is that you can’t jump straight into your dream job. Whether it’s starting at the bottom rung of your dream industry or working wherever it takes just to make ends meet, the majority of people are spending 8 hours of their day in their non-ideal job. In a 2009 Salary.com survey, 65% of respondents admitted that they were “looking around” and only 15% stated that they were “extremely satisfied” in their job. In the current job climate, there’s even more pressure to stick with something if it pays decently and gives you benefits, even if it’s not exactly enriching to your spirit. There has to be a way to make it enjoyable until you get that Dream Job, right?
Now, we’re not talking about terrible job situations where you’re being harassed and dreading going to work every day and making yourself psychosomatically ill. That’s a whole different can of worms. Some of these tips might help, but if your job situation is really abusive, the only thing that can help is putting your all into getting yourself out of there as quickly as possible. What I’m talking about is the day-to-day drag of the menial. Jobs that are perfectly adequate, but aren’t your passion. Jobs that you are truly happy just to have, but which wear you down, day in and day out. Jobs like customer service and retail, where even the most Pollyana-ish person can get worn down by the monotony and ordinariness. How do you stay positive when the daily grind is getting you down?
- Focus on the little blessings. Do you have a window? Easy commute? Good food options? Good benefits? Nice coworkers? Laid back boss? Ability to check Facebook on the clock? Relaxed dress code? Look for the little things that make your job a decent place to be and relish them.
- Remind yourself that it’s not forever. If this really is just a stepping stone to the next place for you, just remind yourself of that as much as you need it.
- Keep working toward your dreams. Are you in the industry you want to be, just not where? Focus on building up your resume and experience. In a completely different field? Find ways to bring your passions into your job: join committees, volunteer for interesting projects. One of my friends works in a retail setting and is trying to get a photography business started. She asked her boss if she could hang a few things in the shop, and as a result, she gets exposure and inquiries.
- Relish the small victories. If you’re going to be writing form letter after form letter, well goshdarnit, push yourself to write the best damn form letter there is. Make it a game for yourself, especially when you have really monotonous tasks: stuff 30 envelopes, watch a funny YouTube video; get all your pending emails replied to, treat yourself to dessert with lunch.
- Throw yourself into your hobbies, especially if they’re related to your passion. Sometimes, there’s just no way to make your day job more fun or enriching or fulfilling. Find that enrichment in hobbies. Volunteer with a local organization you’re passionate about. Make your evening walk your “Me” time. Set up an Etsy store to sell all the neat things you make. Stretch your writing muscles again with SlayBelle’s Sunday Writing Challenge. You never know – your hobby might just lead you down a new career path.
This Week’s Challenge
For the not-Dream Job employed: In those moments when you get annoyed or frustrated or dejected with the job you’re currently in, stop for a second and think about why you’re feeling the way you are. Are you frustrated because you’re bored with what you’re doing? Feeling stagnant? Feeling underutilized? Use the suggestions above to brainstorm ways you can expand your opportunities or re-frame your daily challenges.
For those in-between opportunities, I’ll get you next week with an article on Staying Positive While Job Searching. For a jump start, though, tackle Unfuck Your Habitat’s Job Search Challenge.
This Week’s Mantra
To help you remember that your job is just a job, a wordy mantra commonly attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson: Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
If you want a reminder of your mantra for the next week, feel free to click the image above to download a wallpaper-sized version. Special thanks to Poppy Thomas-Hill for her amazing free stock photos, available under a Creative Commons license.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or mental health expert, and there are problems that positivity cannot overcome, so please do not take this advice in lieu of a doctor’s care.
Not all challenges will be relevant to everyone, so I welcome you to come and go as you please and take from each challenge what works for you! Please make sure to share your thoughts in the comments!