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How to Stay Motivated in a Job You Don’t Love

The world would be a magical place if we all landed jobs and careers that fulfilled every desire we have on our “dream job” checklist. Sounds wonderful, right?


Unfortunately, reality doesn’t always align with our fantasies—meaning that many of us need to suck it up and get through jobs that make us feel exhausted and drained. It can be challenging, but it’s part of the process. You need those not-so-great jobs in order to identify what you’re truly looking for and continue climbing that ladder toward a gig you really want. Also, you have bills to pay.


So, in the meantime, you must continue doing your best work in a position that you don’t necessarily love. Staying focused and motivated when your job doesn’t make you jump for joy can be trying. Here are a few tips to keep you trucking along in a job that doesn’t quite fit in with your life goals.


Fake It ‘Til You Make It

This is a sentiment you’ve heard before. When it comes to sticking it out in your career, it definitely holds true.


It simply means you must keep your chin up and do your best—even if you’re screaming on the inside. The worst thing you can do when you dislike your job is to act like you dislike your job. Even if you’re stuck in the most soul-sucking, terrible job on the planet, you should still put your best effort in. If this job is a stepping stone in your overall career path, then you want to ensure that you’re building a positive professional reputation as a dedicated, helpful employee—not a crabby complainer who skates by doing the bare minimum.


Plus, putting your all into every project—even if it makes you want to grit your teeth and cringe at first—can help to improve your attitude and outlook about your work.

cat typing on comptuer


Explore New Opportunities

When you’re working a job that you don’t love, it’s easy to feel demotivated and uninspired. It’s tough to feel fulfilled and accomplished when you cannot wait until the clock strikes five every day. It’s up to you to take matters into your own hands and identify other ways you can feel satisfied at the end of your workday. Exploring new opportunities is a great way to do this.


Talk to your boss to see if there are new projects or assignments you could tackle. If you have ideas you’ve been churning on for a while that you think could benefit your entire company, go ahead and pitch them!


If you think opportunities within your own workplace are limited, don’t hesitate to look outside the four walls of your office too.While it can be frustrating to not get exactly what you want out of your full-time position, there’s no rule that says you can’t get it from other sources. So, head out there, explore, and see what you can find!

the hobbit adventure



Your job is a huge part of your everyday life. But you can’t spend all of your time obsessing over what is lacking from your current position. It will only serve to make you feel more frustrated.


Even if you’ve had a particularly tough day in the office, don’t take the aggravation home with you and allow it to fester. You’ll turn molehills into mountains, and it’ll make it even harder to head into the office with a positive attitude tomorrow.


taylor swift shake it off


Make a List

I know, it sounds cheesy, but staying positive is crucial for making it through a job that seems disheartening at times.


This strategy has worked well for me in previous positions: Jot down all of the things that you like about your job. Whether it’s your awesome co-workers, your supervisor’s management style, or that you have free reign over and fun with your company’s social media accounts—list out every positive attribute you can think of.


Keep this list somewhere convenient (in a drawer of your desk or as a list on your phone), and take a look at it on days when you’re feeling particularly discouraged. It will remind you of the bright side of your current job and help to take  your focus off of the negatives.


It’s important to remember that you’re not alone—nearly everybody has had to tough it out through one (or a few) of those jobs. Believe me, I’ve been there.

aladdin list


In the end, it’s important to remember that every position contributes to your professional reputation and your resume—and you want that all to be positive. So keep these tips in the back of your mind, continue pushing forward, and you’re one step closer to that dream job!

emma stone pocket of sunshine


Last Updated: May 16, 2016
About the author

    Alexandra Hoeflicker

    Alex is a Tucson-raised, Austin-based brunch aficionado. She enjoys a solid cup of coffee and browsing used record stores.