It's 9 p.m. on a Friday night. Instead of going out to relax and grab drinks with friends, I'm sitting at my home office doing stacks of paperwork left over from a job I started at 9 a.m. The job description and salary are calculated off of 40 hours a week of work, but somehow I am expected to do 50 to 60 hours.
It's exhausting and mind numbing to the point where I'd just like to throw my paperwork in the air like those "It's Friday" memes. Instead, I'll exercise what better judgment I have and turn up the gangster rap music that I'm listening to.
I'm a single guy who grinds at two jobs. During the day I work as a psychotherapist intern. The official title, for legal purposes, is Registered Marriage & Family Therapist Intern #91687, and I'm employed by Victor Community Support Services. I help my clients identify and modify their behavior. At night, I release digital marketing campaigns and persuade consumers to buy products they'll love.
Here's the problem:
As much as I enjoy helping all my clients live richer lives, I'm working a seemingly suffocating schedule and find myself drowning in routines. I could probably change careers, or figure out how to make more income, but that's not up for analyzing in this article.
If you're like me, your goal is to have more time to do the things you enjoy most. For you, it might be making memories with your children, traveling to all the spots on your bucket list, exercising and focusing more on your health or simply watching sports with friends.
I think it's safe to say that often what we want is better than what we currently have. That middle ground of this struggle is where all of us find our coping strategies. In other words, the way we deal with all the crap seemingly holding us back from our dreams and even how we maintain a positive outlook -- that temporary equilibrium of frustration mixed with hope is the key.
In this article I'm going to share ways for you to love the job you hate. For some it's nearly impossible, but latching on to just a few of these tips can help you when the times are tough and when you want to quit.
While you work towards better opportunities here's what to consider on the job:
1. What are you working for?
Besides the cash-flow to pay bills, you're most likely doing this for someone you care about or to invest in an entrepreneurial dream. The purpose for your grind has to be as clear as possible. It has to be so clear that you have pictures or inspirational words of your ideal outcome. These things need be close enough to nudge you away from giving up. Some people have pictures of their cute kids on their desks, while I keep quotes by Steve Jobs, 2Pac and David Ogilvy on my cell phone.
2. Can you get in the zone?
The zone, also known as "flow", is a mystical state of mind where you're able to stay focused, get goals accomplished, feel exhilarated and speed the day up so you can go home. As an extrovert, I get in the zone by talking to others or chugging tall monster energy drinks to build momentum. Figure out what activity you can do while at work to reach this mood.
For some, it can be positive self-talk phrases which they can scream out loud inside their cars. I recommend trying: "I can handle this. I am confident!" As silly as this may seem, you'll notice your feelings and behaviors transform around the idea of work no longer being tough, but being manageable.
3. What's good about your job besides the money?
Money is important because it buys freedom. There is no argument with that, but you need more reasons to decrease the chances of feeling miserable. It doesn't have to be a passion, because passion doesn't always make you money either.
I was discussing with a good college buddy of mine, Justin Ponce, how much control we have over how positively or negatively we feel about our work. The more upset you become at the circumstances you face on the job, the easier it becomes to reinforce that. Justin thinks it goes both ways, too.
His Web design and hosting agency in San Jose, Calif. forces him out of his comfort zone regularly, and he's noticed that "the universe" seems to throw more of whatever he's focusing on the most. His personal solution is to focus on what he does, and how it benefits him and the people around him on a daily basis.
When you focus on what you already like about your job, you are given clarity on how to improve the aspects you might not like as much, as well as the will power to tolerate them.
If you have trouble finding something you enjoy off the top of your head, add in something new to make it fun. Because Justin also works while traveling throughout Southeast Asia, his detox involves checking out new coffee spots and meeting new people.
If Justin had staff, he would be able to find some fun by socializing with them. If you have coworkers, you can participate in bingo, potlucks, fantasy football, team building activities or celebrate happy hour by venting about frustrating clients or managers.
You can also try rewarding yourself on the job as you accomplish tasks. A short break to stretch your legs or listening to music can promote a positive mood.
4. What are you currently grateful for?
Reframing the situation is one way people cope. Plus, focusing on the negatives isn't going to take you any closer to where you want to go. Instead, it'll just make you feel like crap.
As entrepreneurs, we are notorious for challenging the status quo, but we're never short on reasons to appreciate what we already have. Someone working at a gas station with dreams to start her own clothing line can appreciate that she has income. She can notice that she's healthy, has shelter, able to feed herself, clothing and isn't homeless unlike so many others around the world.
It could always be worse, right?
These are just some of the ways you can find love in a less enjoyable job as the entrepreneur in you looks toward the next move. Though reprogramming your coping won't happen overnight, the potential gains in your mental well-being far outweigh not trying at all. As with most things related to entrepreneurship, it all starts with you.