Staying interested at workWhoever said, “Do what you love and the money will come,” probably didn’t have a family to support or kids to get through college during one of the worst economic downturns in history. Hey, we’re all for being happy at work, but since jobs have dried up faster than my contact lenses on a windy day, some people are forced to stay in less-than-fulfilling posts until the economy decides to do an about-face.

That’s not to say you have to rot in cubicle hell until the employment fairy comes along and raps you between the eyes with her magic stapler. Self-pity and passive attitudes seldom get you where you want to be. So to help you make it through your lackluster day without the help of meds or a three-martini lunch (both of which can be expensive, by the way), we offer six ideas to jumpstart your brain into thinking up new and creative ways to stay motivated in a job that doesn’t thrill you.

1. Focus on the Positives

Yeah, I know it sounds cliché, but you have to avoid getting sucked into a negative vortex. When you don’t like your job, it’s easy to pick it apart until there’s nothing left but a carcass of meaningless tasks. Not only does this not serve your emotional well-being, it turns you into the biggest workplace ass this side of Judas.

Make a list of all the things you do at work. Find the top three you enjoy most (or dislike the least) and focus on those. If possible, makes those your priorities and see if you can somehow either limit or even get rid of (delegate?) the tasks you truly despise. If you can’t think of even one job responsibility you like then…

2. Create New Tasks for Yourself

If you really dislike whatever it is you do at work, then figure out what you CAN do that sparks your interest. Go to your boss and propose you change your duties to include new and interesting projects. Be careful, however, about taking on more than you can handle. If your new duties are too time-consuming, then you also need to convince your boss to take something off your plate. Prepare your case ahead of time, giving good reasons (usually related to saving money) why you should get your way.

If your boss won’t budge and you’re still stuck without an emotional life raft, then…

3. Go Back to School

If you can’t be mentally stimulated at work, then give your brain a workout at school. There are so many choices now for night classes, college online, trade schools, etc., you’d be hard press NOT to find an educational program that fits your desire, schedule and budget. Plus, going back to school is a great way to network so when you do get that new degree or credential, you’ve conveniently met a lot of people who can help you find work.

And speaking of switching careers, going back to school doesn’t mean you have to leave your company to find a new job. Switching departments is also an option, so you might want to…

4. Get to Know New People at Work

If you work in accounting, for example, but you’d like to try your hand at marketing, then go schmooze with the fun kids in the marketing department. Getting to know people in other departments gives you insight into new jobs available within your company. Ask your new friends what it takes to break into a new department and work toward that (by possibly going back to school). NOW you have a goal that really gives you something to look forward to.

And if you STILL can’t find anything at work that lights your fire, then…

5. Get Involved with a Nonprofit or Charity

Nothing feels better than doing a good deed for someone else. Join a nonprofit board. Volunteer regularly for a cause that’s near and dear to your heart. And if your cause is nonpartisan, bring it to work. For example, with the holidays coming, start a Toys-for-Tots drive at the office. Get co-workers to join you in delivering Meals on Wheels. Or simply start an office fundraiser for a nonprofit group that everyone can get behind. This gives you something positive to focus on and makes you forget that your regular job is a snooze.

And if NONE of this helps, then…

6. Work Out as Often as Possible

Exercise produces endorphins, which in turn improves attitude. Join a gym and get on a schedule you can live with. If you’re a weenie about exercise, enlist a buddy to go with you (preferably one that won’t wimp out). If you already exercise then change it up. Join a tennis ladder, a softball team, or a bowling league. Exercise doesn’t mean you have to become a gym rat.

Until the economy gets back on track you may be forced to stay in a job you find so dull you worry your brain might turn to pudding. If this is the case, figure out your own ways to stay interested. Necessity was not only the mother of invention she was also the second cousin to ingenuity – a branch quite often overlooked on the (career) family tree.

So what are your secrets to staying interested in less-than-thrilling jobs? Tell us in the comments below!

One comment on “6 Ways to Stay Motivated in A Job that Doesn’t Thrill You

  • Don’t forget the one about GRATITUDE for getting a paycheck to put food on the table and shoes on the kids.

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