5 Tips to Feel Happier in a Job You Don’t Love

Growing up, people asked us all the time what we wanted to be. There was a time I wanted to be a dentist (just because I thought pulling teeth sounded like fun). The truth is that as we get older, we realize that there’s a lot of work that needs to get done. We all need a job, and we probably won’t be handed our dream job as soon as we turn 18.

So what do we do when we’re working for years before we get the chance to really settle into our career? I’ve come up with a list of great ways we can find happiness doing any job. Even one we hate.

Do Dream Jobs Really Exist?

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.”  As a kid I thought a dream job was one where you woke up every day excited to get there. My friends were there. I made tons of money doing things I loved.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are DEFINITELY examples of people out there who have found a job that makes them happy.

However, at the foundation of every dream-come-true scenario, you’ll find hard work and diligence. A dream job is acquired by making a series of important decisions and sacrifices.

At the end of the day, looking for 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, we take away from the hard work and dedication that goes into achieving it. We take away from the stories of discipline and courage that we hear from people who love what they do.

5 Ways to Try and Feel Happier at Work

So, for the rest of us who wake up every day to go to work (you know, the job before the dream job):

I’ve put together a short of ways we can be intentional with what we’re doing right now. These five tips are for those of us who sometimes need to remember that everything we do has an impact on our future.

1. Evaluate What’s Motivating Your Unhappiness

If we find ourselves saying, “I deserve MORE than this” every day at work, we should take a look at what’s making us feel that way. Is there really a problem with pride, jealousy, fear, or anger that is keeping us from being happy at work? Unhealthy motivation is usually a sign of a mindset issue—it might be time to examine our long-term life goals.

However, motivation for wanting a different or more fulfilling job can come from a positive place. Being content doesn’t mean giving up on moving up the ladder or making more money.

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. We can 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.)

2. Consider How You Can Grow as a Person

Being happy at work can be really tough, but we can use it as an opportunity to work towards some of our big life goals. Even if our job feels unimportant, even demeaning, there are skills to be learned and there’s money to be earned. Every day we show up to work, we have the opportunity to make steps towards a future with a job that we like more.

If we arrive with the intention to grow as a person, even in a job we don’t want, we may just find that we are happier while we’re at work.

3. Stand Out by Asking to Learn More

If our motivation comes from a positive place and we’re focused on growth, there’s no reason to fear stepping outside our comfort zone. Speak with your superiors and coworkers about how you’d like to become more useful as a team member.

It might mean taking on more challenging projects, or spending time shadowing other departments, but the effort can improve your chances of being noticed in a positive way.

Putting in more effort and standing out as an employee 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.

4. Be Prepared for New Job Opportunities

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, we’re less afraid to try new things. We become more willing to set aside our pride and comfort. We may even 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 (maybe better?) things. The next job we find may be one step closer to where we’d really like to be.

At the end of the day we’re always changing and growing. 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 we’re doing everything we can to grow and move up, we’ll be given a chance to try something new (either a change in position or a new job entirely) and we won’t want to miss it!

5. 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 helps us to 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.

Happiness at Work is Part of a Cozy Life

Knowing yourself is key to feeling cozy about your life and finding fulfillment wherever you are. 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. 

Do you have any tips or stories about how you changed as a person while working at a not-so-dreamy job?

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