5 Tips for Practicing Contentment in a Job You Don’t Love

When we were kids, people always seemed to be asking us what we wanted to be when we grew up. As we get older, we realize there are more jobs out there than the ten we knew about, and also that we might not find our dream job. These are some of the ways we can practice intentional contentment and grow throughout our lives even while working a job that doesn’t feel fulfilling.

Why Do We Believe in Dream Jobs?

This is one of those questions I ask myself some days, and it might sound a little pessimistic, but I sort of stopped believing in “dream jobs.”  I know as a child, I imagined my dream job being one that was fun and left me plenty of time to be with my friends. In fact, in my dream job I made the big bucks, all my coworkers were my friends, and we all got along all the time. Sounds a little too dreamy for the realist that I am these days.

I view the search for a “dream job” the same way that I view searching for “The One.” Of course, there are examples of people out there who have found a job that makes them happy and people who have found love with a truly committed partner. However, at the foundation of every dream-come-true scenario, you’ll find hard work and diligence. No dream job is acquired without making a series of important decisions and sacrifices, and no loving relationship is sustained without intentional communication and humility.

Aspiring to a “dream job” isn’t a bad thing if your dream is to work really hard.

When we build the idea of a “dream job” around it being something that you fall into by chance, similarly to the way our culture views love, we take away from the hard work and dedication that goes into achieving either of those things. We also decrease our chances of finding and keeping them.

5 Ways to Practice Being Content in Your Current Job

“Work is work, ” — something my dad always said to me when I complained about a job I didn’t like. It’s something that has stuck with me through the years. There are some really tough jobs out there, and incredible people who work hard at them. These five tips are for those of us who sometimes need to remember that “work is work,” even if you have great job.  I’ve also included some ways we can practice being content with what we’re doing right now.

Evaluate What’s Motivating You

When we feel we deserve more from our job, money, praise, or fulfillment, it’s important for us to consider what’s motivating that feeling. If we see fear, jealousy, pride, or anger at the root of our reasons for why we deserve “more,” the issue with contentment at work is likely tied to an unhealthy mindset and goals. Consider starting by reading through my other post on 7 Ways to Refocus Your Goals.

However, some motivation for wanting a different or more fulfilling job comes from a positive place. Being content doesn’t mean giving up on moving up, it just requires a change in mindset. Instead of imagining every day at work as something we have to get through, we start thinking about what’s motivating us to move up or out, and use the opportunities we have to learn as much as we can along the way. In other words: make the most out of the situation.

Consider Your “Always in Process” Goals

“Always in process” goals are the bigger overarching life goals we make to give us direction when we’re making decisions. These goals are explained more fully in the 7 Ways to Refocus Your Goals  post I mentioned above.

When we’re trying to practice intentional contentment in a job we don’t love, it is also helpful to try and find ways that our current job is helping us to move along the process of achieving some of our bigger life goals. Even if we aren’t in a job that feels important, earning some money, learning skills, and interacting with people are great ways to help us along the path to growing as a person and working on those “always in process” goals.

Stand Up and Stand Out

If we have the right motivation and we’re focusing on getting the most growth as possible out of our current job, then there is no reason to be afraid of taking a step outside our comfort zone. This might mean taking on more challenging projects or speaking with your boss about how you can grow and become more useful.

Putting in more effort and standing out as a person who is willing to help others, learn new skills, and take on a challenge is beneficial and a healthy way to find more fulfillment in any job. Doing this consistently increases the chance that we’ll be offered more opportunities to advance. Doing this also serves as a way to be a better worker, which may result in advancement or a foot in the door at a different job.

Be Prepared for Your Opportunity to Jump

This goes along with losing the fear to step outside the comfort zone. If we are taking every opportunity to grow and learn in our current not-so-dreamy job, there’s no reason to be afraid to try something new after a while. Once we’ve changed our mindset towards thinking of a job as a way to help us grow as a person and work towards big, “always in process” goals, the fear of trying something new diminishes. We become more agile and more willing to set aside our pride and comfort. We find ourselves willing to take more risks in order to achieve goals in a positive way.  

Instead of focusing on the fear of starting over, we can focus on the chance to experience new things. The next job we find may be one step closer to where we’d really like to be, and it might end up being a step away from where we want to end up. At the end of the day we’re all in process and there are opportunities to learn from every position we work in. Don’t let the fear of change keep you from taking a leap in a new direction. If you’re doing everything you can to grow and move up, you’ll be given a chance to jump (either a change in position or a new job entirely) and you don’t want to miss it!

Learn From People Around You

One of the best ways I have practiced intentional contentment in the midst of challenging circumstances is by taking some time to listen and learn from the people around me. This is especially applicable at work because we know less about coworkers than we know about our friends and family. When I make an effort to ask more questions and learn more about the people with whom I spend over 40 hours a week, I not only feel more positive about coming to work, but I discover ways that I can serve the people around me. If one thing makes me feel fulfilled it’s working to be a genuine benefit to others.

Practicing intentional contentment by serving others is one of my absolute favorite things to do. Work is work, but people are there and my fulfillment can be boosted by taking some time to make their lives a little brighter.

Know Where You Find Fulfillment

Knowing yourself is the key to practicing contentment and finding fulfillment wherever you are in life. We’re all works in progress. 

Having a dream job would be great, and even though I don’t really believe in the ideal “dream job,” I know that there are people out there who live and love to work. I only know myself, and I know that my job serves to help me provide for my family and to grow as a person. My fulfillment comes from my faith, the people in my life, and my goals.  I strive to live with intention; to become a more creative, positive, cozy person every day.

Do you have any tips or stories about growing as a person while working at a not-so-dreamy job? Share with me in the comments!

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