What to Do When you DON’T Love Your Work, Part 1

If you’ve ever wanted to throw your phone across the room as you scroll through yet another inspirational quote on Instagram about following your passion, I hear you.

That’s nice, but I have bills to pay.

Maybe you went into your career path starry-eyed, sure that you were going to change the world and love your work for the rest of your life…only it didn’t quite turn out that way.

Or maybe you fell into a series of jobs and just ended up in this one, which is pretty stable and pays pretty well but doesn’t light you on fire. 

Or maybe you’ve been completely and utterly miserable since the day you graduated and you still haven’t found your thing.

I fall into the first camp.

I’m trained as a family medicine physician because I’ve always been passionate about caring for people’s health and wellbeing.

I saw my work as a calling. I was going to birth babies, treat colds and cure all manner of ailments, all with a smile and a spring in my step.

Then I got through 11 years of education and training and into the job – and the real world of practicing medicine was a rude reality check.

I spent more time dealing with insurance companies and medication requests than I did seeing patients. I worked late into the night catching up on charts and left early in the morning to finish paperwork. (I used to put my kids to sleep in their clothes so I didn’t have to get them dressed before taking them to daycare before sunrise.) 

My relationships and my health suffered until I completely burned out at the ripe age of 30.

I’m so happy to share that burnout, overwhelm and complete professional misery are no longer my current reality.

And I got here, like anywhere, one step at a time. 

Part of the problem is that when you don’t love your work, our culture offers two solutions: be practical (i.e., gut it out for 20+ more years and stop complaining) or follow your dream (i.e., quit everything and cobble together an income in the gig economy). 

What most people don’t talk about is the fact that there are a thousand other pathways in between these two extremes.

In my next series of blogs, I’ll be sharing my top 6 tips for what to do when you don’t love your job. Here’s the first one…

#1 Remember that a job is different than a purpose

Your purpose is why you were put on this earth. 

Mine is, “I help others.”

Your job can simply be the vehicle for how you accomplish your purpose.

I used to help others by practicing medicine. Right now, I coach fellow physicians on recovering from burnout.

What is your purpose? 

Can you find a creative way to live it out in your current work? If not, how can you pursue your purpose through volunteer work, a hobby, or your relationships?

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