At some point or another, many of us have experienced working in jobs that were perhaps not at the top of our career aspirations list. While being stuck in an unpleasant point on the ladder may cause you to feel restless and at times even despondent over your seemingly grim professional prospects, the reality is that there are steps you can take that will help you learn to love your job, and foster growth and career progression as a result.
Whether you’ve just initiated your career path or have found yourself caught in the transition period of a career switch or restructure process, we show you our top 6 steps towards learning to love your job, even if you may not like it at first.
Step 1 - Set realistic goals and stick to them
Be realistic about your personal situation and what is necessary for moving forward. The job you dislike right now might be a necessity for what lies ahead, but it’s important to ensure that you’re not taking shortcuts. Instead of trying to 'wow' your boss with tough promises to keep, stick to working hard and accomplishing what’s in your power to perform. Doing this consistently is vastly more impressive.
Step 2 - Innovate and invest in continuous improvement
If there is something that you feel could be improved or fixed at work, come up with the solutions yourself, or better still, present them to your boss. Demonstrating a proactive approach to problem-solving is a great way to make real changes to a work environment that might not be ideal. That being said, it’s important to be diplomatic, polite and respectful when presenting your opinions.
Step 3 - Focus on your professional development
Boredom is one of the primary reasons why people dislike their jobs, so look for ways to challenge yourself and enhance your professional development. Look for ways in which you can develop your skills to be utilised in a variety of different roles, and invest in continuous learning – whether it be through the company you are working for, or in your own time. For example, if you are working in telesales but are aspiring to teach English as a foreign language, then capitalise on the communication skills you already have whilst increasing your skill set using educational resources such as online courses, webinars or workshops.
Step 4 - Consistently show up early and take initiative
While this advice may seem counter-intuitive, and may beg the question, ‘Why would I want to spend more time in a place I don’t like?’, the reality is that this habit will set a good pace for your shift and give you momentum for the rest of the day. Not to mention, it’s one of the easiest ways for you to stand out in the eyes of your superiors – which leads to the next point, take initiative! Look for ways to keep busy even if you’ve completed a task or are waiting on your next assignment because your proactivity is likely to be noticed, and may lead to possible promotion opportunities.
Step 5 - Be kind to your colleagues - especially the newbies
Kindness is magic, and it should go without saying that showing care and compassion for others will make you (and them) happier. Look for ways in which you can be kind to your colleagues, whether it be through bringing them a batch of home-baked treats to enjoy during tea breaks, offering them a remedy from your desk-draw stash if they seem to be fading or under the weather, or offering to help someone grab a file from the cabinet that may be beyond their reach. In being selfless, remember not to overlook the newbies in the office. You’ll probably remember how confusing and disorienting it was to start a new job you knew nothing about, so pay it forward by helping new co-workers find their place and learn. This is a great way for you to feel good about the job you have and what you’ve learned there so far.
Step 6 - Start a journal
You don’t have to show this to anyone, but it’s good to keep a record of the positive memories and milestones you’ve made at your job. It’s even therapeutic to jot down the somewhat negative aspects of your job, as challenges often drive us to learn, grow, re-evaluate and become more self-aware and assertive about what we want out of our professional lives.
And finally, if you have tried all of the above, but still find that your feelings towards your job haven't changed, it may be time to spruce up your CV and jump ship!