I want to give you a free copy of my eBook called The Chase: Thoughts On Quitting Your Job And Chasing Your Dreams. I wrote it for those who feel like they are meant to do something more. Click here to download it now.

A few days ago I wrote a post that was meant to bring hope and encouragement to those who dread going to work at their day jobs. I realized, by the time I finished writing, that there was more I wanted to add, not just encouragement, but really practical advice.

I know what it’s like to work a job you don’t love. I know what it’s like to feel like you can’t quit. And I don’t believe it is always right or responsible to leave your current circumstance, even if it makes you miserable.

Here are three things I think you can do, however, to make the most out of a miserable job.

1. Cultivate your passions, no matter where you are

Try to find ways to cultivate your passions, both at work and away. Look for opportunities at your current job to develop the set of skills you hope you can use someday. Ask for chances to write, take photos, research, take care of the accounting, or to be included in a business meeting, even if just as an observer.

When you’re not at work, look for opportunities to use these skills for fun.

I know it can be hard when you don’t yet get paid to take the pictures, or paint, or draw, or write, or roast coffee or build furniture. Life is already so full of things we have to do like pay our bills, feed our children, wash clothes (at least every once and awhile) and sleep (if we’re lucky).

But, if you’re anything like me, you also do all kinds of things you don’t have to do; and then use that as an excuse for why you can’t do what you’re passionate about.

If you have a hard time finding room to cultivate your passion in your work life, or free time, ask yourself this question: What’s getting in my way?

If it’s the medical needs of a child or spouse, good. Keep doing that. It might be hard, but when we do what really matters in life — no matter how hard — it is always rewarding in the end. But I find what’s most often getting in my way is much simpler than that: TV, procrastinating, fear about what other people are going to think about me.

I constantly have to be evaluating and re-evaluating my priorities.

2. Ask yourself what you really want

The best way to evaluate your priorities is to ask yourself what you want. Most of us have a hard time even answering this question (I often have to coax myself… “No, Ally, not what do you think is best, what do you want?) because we feel guilty about wanting anything at all. We worry it makes us selfish or entitled or irresponsible.

But what if knowing what we want, and using all of our resources to go after it, is the most “responsible” thing of all?

What if we want what we want for a reason?

I would argue the most selfish and entitled people in the world aren’t focusing too much on what they really want; they’re focusing on it too little. They’re focusing on what they should want, what they think they want, what they think it takes to be cool and happy and popular. They’re focusing on houses and cars and clothes and titles and lifestyles because they’ve been sold the lie that this is what they want.

But this is not what they really want. At least I don’t think so. When have you ever heard a story about a rich person who said, “being rich is the best thing that ever happened to me. Money really does buy happiness.”

Sometimes we have to dig deep to get to the root of what we really want. Then we have to build a bridge to get to it.

What do you really want? 

3. Don’t be afraid to let go

Building a bridge to get to what you really want in life might include continuing to work at your current job for a short while, or a long while, or forever. I don’t know. I can’t decide that for you. You’ll have to decide for yourself.

But, when the time is right, don’t be afraid to let go.

I worked in food service for ten years bringing people extra ranch and refills of diet coke and pouring beer and steaming milk. I put myself through college this way, and then graduate school, and my last food service job was Starbucks, after I was married and had a masters degree. I enjoyed many things about working in restaurants and making coffee.

But, if I’m honest, I have to admit I wondered, many times: When will I be able to quit this job and do something I really love?

I’ll never forget the day I knew it was time to quit. I had recently gotten a book contract, and I wasn’t swimming in cash or anything, but I knew that if I was careful, I could make it without my regular paycheck. I just woke up one morning and the feeling came over me: It’s time.

The funny (and maybe ridiculous thing) is, even though I knew it was time to quit, it was still scary. It meant I wouldn’t have a regular paycheck anymore, and my daily rhythm would change. It meant saying goodbye to friends and familiarity. But I just knew. I couldn’t let my fear of change get in the way of doing what I need to do.

I would give you the same direction:

When it’s time to quit, you’ll know, don’t let fear stop you.

I hope this helps.

I want to give you a free copy of my eBook called The Chase: Thoughts On Quitting Your Job And Chasing Your Dreams. I wrote it for those who feel like they are meant to do something more. Click here to download it now.

One comment on “3 Practical Tips for Those Who Dread Going to Work

  1. My day job is in accounting and I sit at a desk. I don’t hate it but I am not in love with it. I love to write. I have learned to include this love in my day. I listen for creative, beautiful and interesting phrases whether through conversation or something I read but especially from songs. I keep a steno pad on my desk and I jot down a beautiful phrase and within seconds I determine whether this phrase could help shape a paragraph in a story, etc. You get my drift. My day then becomes decorated with phrase art. This might sound small or perhaps distracting but I bet it doesn’t sound like that to you, if you are a writer! You totally get it!

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