How to Like Your Job (When You Don’t Do What You Like)

Do what you love.

Isn’t that a great thought?  

In an ideal world, we would all be doing work we love and feel passionate about. In an ideal world, there would be jobs like puzzle creator, reality TV show critic, maybe even professional bread eater (with butter).  Let’s face it, some of us love doing things that don’t translate into actual jobs that will pay the light bill.

Maryanne Walker, LPC Kingwood Counselor

 

Three years ago, my friend, Katie, was working as a freelance writer, eking out a meager existence writing copy for businesses. While she loved writing itself, her real passion was fiction.  So she set out to write something wonderful, beautiful, and, hopefully, profitable.  

 

It was at that point in her life, unfortunately, that reality intervened. Her husband lost his job just as their kids were in need of braces and one was about to start driving.

“I could continue to write, and it might possibly pay off down the road, or I could do something that was a sure thing to help with the family finances,” Katie told me at the time.      

 

She now works as a realtor and writes on a part time basis. “Writing is my true passion and I’ll definitely return to doing it full time at some point.  Right now, though, I have learned to enjoy being a realtor, especially the benefits the job brings to our family.”

What happens, however, if you can’t see the proverbial forest beyond the trees as Katie was able to do?  What if you hate your current job and curse the universe for not letting you pursue your passion?  What do you do whenever you are passionate about one career, but “stuck” in another?

  • List the benefits to your job

Do you have job security?  Medical insurance?  A guaranteed paycheck? Those perks might seem small, but they are huge whenever you don’t have them. 

Would pursuing your passion afford you those opportunities?  It may pay off big, or not at all. While Katie is working to get to a place where finances don’t dictate what she does for work, she’s appreciating the fact that for now, she’s got money coming in to help support the family financially.

 
  • Who you know

I’ve mentioned before that I use to work at a psychiatric hospital.  I wasn’t really in love with my job, but I had a few co-workers who made coming to work not quite as painful as it could have been.  I would often think of these people whenever I was having a tough time getting myself to the hospital on Monday mornings.  These were the folks who put a smile on my face or made me laugh. 

And you don’t have to be BFFs with your co-workers to benefit from seeing them either.  One of my favorites at the hospital was one of the maintenance guys who would come by every morning and empty my trash.  We would talk about football or the latest movies we had seen.  Just seeing his smiling face and spending a few minutes talking with him would brighten up my mornings.  

 
  • Check your attitude

Whether you’re running your own business or picking up garbage, your attitude toward your job (and life in general) can dictate whether you’re happy or miserable.  

Right after I graduated from college, I got a job that wasn’t interesting to me.  The pay was decent and it was close to my house, but all I could focus on was how much I hated what I was doing.  At the time I couldn’t quit, so one day I decided to focus more on the positives and less on what I didn’t like.  

What a difference that decision made!  Nothing about the job really changed except that Ichose not to dwell on all the things I didn’t like. That freed me to focus on the aspects I did like.  

 
  • Get real

Many years ago, Oprah devoted numerous episodes to the idea of envisioning the life you want to lead in order to find happiness.  I love Oprah and I like the idea of envisioning my ideal life.  I also love being grounded enough to live in reality. 

The fact is, sometimes what we love is not what we’re able to pursue in the moment.  That doesn’t mean we can’t plan for a future where we do pursue our passion.  But if you’re in a situation were you can’t realize your dream today, don’t put off being happy for tomorrow.  If you’re not content or at peace with what you have today, you might not be happy when you get what you think you do want. 

That’s because happiness is a temporary state of mind.  Find your passion in everyday life, not only in what you want to do for a career.

 

Do you struggle with liking or loving your job?  I would love to hear about what you think about liking what you do when you can’t do what you love.