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Just the thought of going to work tomorrow fills you with dread and misery. And when you think about working for the rest of your life, you want to throw in the towel now.
There’s got to be a better way to make a living than this, right? This can’t be all there is to life, can it?
After working so hard to get through school, applying to a bunch of lower-paying jobs to kick start your career, giving the whole 9-5 lifestyle your best shot, you’ve painfully realized that this is not the life for you.
You don’t want to work for the rest of your life.
Like so many people, you’ve tried your best to ignore your feelings of discontent and unhappiness for many years. After all, hating your job is what being an adult is all about.
You may have even discussed what you’re going through with family members or friends, only to be told that “no one likes their job” or “that’s how life is.” So you suck it up and quit complaining, hoping you get used to it.
The problem, you tell yourself, must be with you. After all, you should be grateful you have a job, right?
Except these feelings aren’t going away. You live for the weekend and dread Mondays. You don’t know what to do or where to turn. All you know is that this is not what you want to do for the rest of your life.
If you’ve ever wondered if there’s more to life than this as you battle early morning rush hour on your way to work, you are not alone. According to The World’s Broken Workplace by Gallup, Inc., only 15% of the world’s full-time employees are engaged at work. A survey of 5,000 households by the Conference Board found that 52.3% of Americans are unhappy at work.
The good news is you don’t have to spend your entire career being miserable. Below are tips for overcoming the burden of your 9 to 5 job.
1. Check your mindset.
Unless you have a trust fund that you’re banking on or have plans to marry into money, making a living will probably be a large part of your life. But just because you want to be a contributing member of society doesn’t mean you have to be miserable while earning a living.
Whether you work for someone or work for yourself, it won’t always be a bed of roses. There will always be aspects of the job you don’t enjoy. But those things you don’t enjoy should not overshadow the parts you do.
Check your mindset to make sure you’re not allowing the negative to conceal the positive. Do you really hate your job or are you letting your dislike of a long commute affect your mood? Is your boss that big of a jerk or are you sensitive to the negative feedback they give you?
A positive mindset can change how one perceives the direst situations. It can even help you like your annoying cubicle neighbor. If you work 40 hours a week, from the age of 20 to 65, you will work 90,360 hours. That’s a lot of time spent being miserable.
If you are one of the 99% of the population that needs to work for a living, having a positive mindset is one of the easiest ways to enjoy the work you do.
Here are two ways that you can think more positively about your job or work in general:
See it as an investment.
An investment involves putting something in with the expectation that you get something out at a later date. That’s easy to see when it’s interest on your savings or returns on shares you own. But the same thinking can be applied to your working life.
What you put in is time and effort. What you get out is a salary. But look beyond that salary to what it can do for you beyond the basics of keeping a roof over your head or putting food on your table. Think of that salary as the means with which you can pursue you passions, fund great experiences, or create shared memories with others.
Recognize the value in your work.
Society is one big machine with billions of moving parts. When one part stops working, it risks the whole thing grinding to a halt.
You are one of those parts. Your job is a part of the process, a part of the machine that keeps human life as we know it ticking over. You may not see it, but it’s true.
And the wages people get paid don’t always reflect the importance of the job they do. A street cleaner gets paid pittance compared to a hedge fund manager, but people would likely notice a lot sooner if the street cleaner wasn’t doing their job.
So if you struggle with the idea of working for the rest of your life because you see most work as meaningless, try to notice all the jobs you are exposed to on a daily basis and how your life would be much harder or less enjoyable if those jobs didn’t exist. The coffee shop worker, the bus driver, the grocery store clerk, the pizza delivery person – these are important roles that touch the lives of almost everyone at some point. Don’t diminish the importance of your job or of any job you might have in the future.
2. Identify the problem.
Try to figure out what, in particular, is causing your feelings of discontent.
Drill down from your general feelings of misery to identify what exactly the issue is with your job and/or career.
Are you having issues with the work itself? Do you hate the job but like the people you work with? Perhaps you love the job but hate the people you work with?
When you figure out the particular issue behind your emotions, it’ll be easier to find a solution. The solution could be for you to change your job if it’s your colleagues that you hate. Or changing your career path, if it’s the job itself that is driving you crazy.
You don’t have to spend years in a job that makes you unhappy. But you do need to be able to identify what exactly is making you unhappy about the job.
3. Find the intersection between work and passion.
What are you passionate about (or even good at) that people would pay to have you do? We often overlook our passions and talents, assuming that just because we love it or are good at doing a particular thing, everyone must as well.
For example, you may find cleaning soothing. It’s something that calms you because it feeds your need to organize and put things in place. You actually look forward to doing it. It would be wrong to assume that others find the same enjoyment out of cleaning that you do.
For many people, cleaning is the last thing they would want to spend an afternoon doing. They may enjoy having a clean environment and would pay good money to have and maintain one. Turn your passion for cleaning into a successful business where you get paid to clean and organize other people’s homes. Both you and the client win.
If you have a hard time identifying what you’re passionate about or good at, try the following:
- Write down how you spend your days for a week.
- Review and identify how many hours you spend on different activities.
- Which activities did you do with ease?
- Which activities did you enjoy doing?
- Which activities were you upset about missing (if you could not do it on a particular day)?
- Which activities did you regularly get compliments on because of your speed or efficiency or quality of work?
- Which activities regularly get delegated to you?
After going through all of those questions, if you’re still unsure, ask a close friend or colleague what things they feel you’re good at. Their responses may surprise you and lead you on the right path.
Try to think of ways you could turn the activities or skills you’ve identified into a service you could provide for the people who need it, or even a product you could sell.
Don’t be quick to throw out an idea as being too ridiculous. It’ll surprise you what some people get paid to do.
4. Change how you work.
Maybe you’ve realized that what you crave is more autonomy over your work. Perhaps it is the monotony of doing the same work, day in and day out, that you are struggling with. You want to be able to pick and choose what work you will do, when, and where.
If the lack of control over your work drives you crazy, consider changing the way you work. Doing a desk job from 9 to 5 is no longer the only option available.
With the growth of the gig economy, you have more options as to how you earn a living. In fact, according to a report by Mastercard and Kaiser Associates, titled The Global Gig Economy: Capitalizing on a ~500B Opportunity, the global gig economy was generating $204B in gross volume as of 2019. It is projected to increase to $455B by 2023.
As the gig economy grows by leaps and bounds, you have the freedom to work as a freelancer or consultant. Whether you’re a morning or afternoon person, you can schedule your work for when you’re the most alert. The important thing is to make sure you get the job done.
Some additional benefits to taking advantage of the gig economy include the following:
- You often have the flexibility to work when you want and for as long as you want.
- You can create a better work-life balance for yourself.
- You are your own boss.
- Online opportunities mean you can get paid for working from home, or anywhere.
Another option is discussing with your supervisor the possibility of performing your role remotely, either fully or partially. This benefits your organization because your productivity will increase. There will also be a reduction in the cost of keeping/maintaining an office for you. Depending on the work you do, there will be many more benefits to you and the organization.
If you’re not ready to be your own boss, partial or fully remote work allows you to get the best of both worlds, in that you keep the stability of full-time work, but have the flexibility to work from home or a co-working space or even a coffee shop, if you desire.
Before you throw this idea out, make certain your organization would never go for it. The world of work is changing and many companies now realize that not all employees need to work in the office to be effective. Reduction of overheads is just one of many benefits that organizations aim to gain with a remote workforce. Think of a few more that apply to your industry, organization, and specific role and make your case to your boss.
5. Change where you work.
Wouldn’t it be lovely to work in an exotic location? Do you have visions of living in Mexico, Vietnam, or Bali? If your major complaint about your job is having to come in to the safe office every day when you want to travel and see the world, maybe a fully remote job would be the answer.
Many companies are looking to hire employees to work fully remotely. These companies don’t want to pay for office space and have put in place tools for their workforce to be productive while working remotely. All you need is access to Wi-Fi that is strong and secure and often, a VPN. You are free to do the work from anywhere in the world.
But before you quit your job and jump on the remote work bandwagon, present the suggestion to your supervisor. See if they would be willing to change the terms of your role to allow you to work from where ever you want.
6. Check the toxicity level of your job.
The problem might not even be you. You might work in a toxic office or with a toxic boss or have a toxic colleague. But because you’ve been gaslit for so long, you think something is wrong with you. You have been convinced that everything that’s going wrong in the office is all you. If you could just work harder or better, everything will be resolved.
The thing with working in a toxic environment is that it slowly erodes your confidence. It’s such a slow and relentless assault on your psyche, trashing your skills or capabilities that you don’t even notice it. But you eventually find yourself unable to leave the environment because you don’t believe you can. You’re miserable most days.
Prolonged exposure to a toxic workplace can lead to PTSD, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. If any of this resonates with you, for the sake of your mental health, you cannot continue working in such an environment. You owe it to yourself to leave. Accept that this is not your fault. Work on building yourself back up, preferably with the help of a licensed therapist.
7. Try an alternative way of making an income.
It would surprise you just how many ways there are to make a living. We’ve been conditioned to gravitate to the security of a full-time job, but options abound to those who are ready to be creative. A social media influencer, who shall remain nameless, is actually earning a living by selling her farts (I kid you not). The worst part is that people are buying it. This article is not advocating such a business model, but this example serves to show the limitless opportunities that are available.
Life really doesn’t have to be difficult to make a living. But we often get trapped by our fears, unable to step out of our comfort zones to try something new.
Even on a part-time basis, you can start something that you enjoy, which brings value to others. Your craft hobby that you spend hours working on and end up giving away for free? Start attaching a price to it. If you have talent, there’s no limit to your earning potential if you are willing and are innovative.
If you feel you don’t have a special talent or skill, that still doesn’t mean you’re forever relegated to suffer through your career. You could try:
Building up passive income.
Passive income refers to money you make without too much effort on your part. After you’ve created the source of the income (a book, for example), you don’t have to work on it every day. There are many ways to build up passive income, such as affiliate marketing, digital products, online training, real estate, and more.
Once you’ve done the hard work to set it up, it keeps earning money, even while you sleep.
Don’t spend all of your income. Build up your savings. But you don’t have to keep all of your savings in the bank either. Consider investing some of your money so that it can make more money for you.
We’ve all heard stories of people who have invested their money, buying the stock of a little-known company, only for the company to blow up a short while later, making everyone who took the plunge a millionaire. This is essentially how Warren Buffett became one of the richest men in the world.
If you find the stock market too risky, try investing in real estate. There are many options for you to invest in.
8. Improve your work/life balance.
You may love your job and your boss is a dream to work for. Your colleagues may be some of your best friends. But you just struggle to get out of bed each morning to head out to work.
You may be on the verge of burnout. You could be overworked and physically and mentally exhausted.
When was the last time you went on vacation? Do you work long hours? Is there anything resembling work/life balance in your career?
Sometimes, due to work pressure, we forget to take time to rest. Or the pressure of work is so much that we have a difficult time switching off and relaxing when we’re supposed to. We forget we work so we can live. We do not live just to work. Your work is supposed to provide you with income to help you live a full life.
You need to find a balance that helps you replenish and feed other aspects of your life. A refreshed mind will only help you perform better because you’re coming with fresh ideas and renewed energy.
Working for a living is a reality that many of us cannot escape. However, it doesn’t have to be
one that we dread. We can enjoy the work we do either by changing our mindset, our job, the way we work, or where we work.
Still not sure how you’ll ever be able to make peace with working for the rest of your life? Speak to a life coach today who can walk you through the process. Simply click here to connect with one.
You may also like:
- How To Beat The Sunday Night Blues (a.k.a. Sunday Scaries)
- 8 Ways To Stop Feeling Trapped By Life
- What Is The Purpose And Point Of Life? (It’s Not What You Think)
- 8 Good Reasons To Stop Chasing Success (+ What To Do Instead)
- What Should We Aspire To Most In Life?