fake it till you make it — how to love your job even when you actually hate it.

Perfect post for a Monday, no?

In Jon Acuff‘s book Quitter, recently gifted to me by my sweet husband, he writes about the “I’m, But” generation. Those in this generation are called as such because they respond to the question, “What do you do?” with something along the lines of:

I’m a retail manager, but I want to be a youth pastor.”
I’m a childcare owner, but I want to be a professional musician.”
I’m a marketing coordinator, but I want to be a stay-at-home mom and author.” (Sound like someone you know? HINT: It’s me.) 

In this economy, we can’t afford to be picky. A lot of us are suffering through less-than-fulfilling day jobs with the hopes of someday breaking those chains and pursuing our dream jobs. Now, I know better than to blog about hating my job, lest I get fired. However, it’s completely true that I’m not currently pursuing my dream job (stay-at-home mom and author) at this juncture. Being the wife of a children’s pastor with a relatively meager salary, I don’t anticipate this changing anytime soon and that reality can be quite demoralizing at times.

So, if you’re in the same boat as me, here are some tips for you.

1. give yourself constant reminders about why you’re doing this.

At my current job, I have my desktop background set to a picture of my son’s ultrasound. I also have the physical copies on my desk and I make a point to thumb through them at least once a day. I do this to remind myself that I’m here in order to be able to afford to take care of him and give him all the things he needs (food, shelter, health insurance, a sane mother who isn’t drowning in guilt over not being employed.) Maybe for you it’s  your friends, and having this job gives you the money you need to spend time with them; put a picture of you and your friends on your desk. Maybe it’s your next career move, and your current job is just a stepping stone to get there; write out the job title you’re going for on a small piece of paper and tape it to your keyboard so you see it everyday.

2. pieces of flair!

Joanna from Office Space was required to wear pieces of flair and (naturally) hated it. But I’d encourage you to put some flair up around your work space. If your job makes you miserable, you can at least liven up your cubicle to soften the blow a little bit (if you’re allowed to decorate, that is. If you’re not, well, you work in hell and I sincerely apologize. Please skip ahead.)  Decorate your work space with things that make you smile. My cubicle, for instance, is adorned with such gems as a vase full of dried roses (once very much alive) from my husband, a piece of art I created with a bunch of bible verses about peace, pictures of my friends and husband, cards I’ve received from friends and coworkers, and even some stuffed animals.

3. take breaks.

If you can, take 15 minute breaks to get out of the office and go for a walk to clear your head. You’ll stretch your legs and burn some calories and get some endorphins going. And you know what endorphins do, right? That’s right! They make you happy!

4. see friends on your lunch break.

Even if you’re poor like me and can’t afford to go out to lunch, bring your lunch and eat it at work and then spend your lunch hour catching up with a friend. Before Ashley moved, she lived right around the corner from my work and I loved to meet up with her and Kylin at a nearby lake or fro-yo joint to spend an hour laughing with someone who makes me happy. Seeing friends during the day gives you a  little more pep in your step for the second half of your work day.

5. remember that nothing is permanent — not even this job — and that you’re not the only one who has ever felt this way.

I have to constantly remind myself that a) my current situation is not my forever situation and b) I’m not the first person in to utter the words, “I’m … but…” But these things are completely true. When my alarm went off this morning, I got out of bed and I thought to myself, This is not forever. And I felt just a little bit better.

I know that these tips aren’t exactly rocket science. However, they do require a certain level of intentionality that doesn’t necessarily come easily. As natural as it is for me to shut off my alarm in the morning and scream, No, I don’t wanna! I wanna stay at home, rub my baby in my belly, and write all day! That doesn’t help me get any closer to my goal. Furthermore, it doesn’t make my time at my day job any more enjoyable. Instead, following through with these five (relatively simple) steps helps me out just enough to make it through to 5pm when I’m free to actively pursue avenues that could lead me toward my dream job.

What about you? Are you part of the “I’m, But” generation, too?