I have a number of Facebook connections who start posting their excitement about the coming weekend every Wednesday or Thursday and who reliably post dread and reluctance for the looming Monday on most Sundays.

As with many Facebook connections, these friends are people I may have met only briefly or once knew, but who I’m not actively in touch with now – other than seeing their regular updates on my newsfeed. So I don’t know what they do for a living, but I often wonder.

I assume it’s something that they don’t enjoy. (These same people frequently post their prodigious need for coffee and affectionate craving for wine.)

I’ve also had those Sundays when I just couldn’t enjoy the day off because I was thinking about the approaching work week. This meant that not only did I enjoy my work – all day long five days a week – but that I also wasn’t even enjoying my own time away from work.

Therefore I wasn’t enjoying my life – and life is too short for that.

It is hard to appreciate your life when you hate your job, and the temptation is to think that everything will be better when you land that real job, that dream career that fulfills you, inspires you and makes you happy. Hey, and if that gig magically comes a long, you should grab it.

But in reality – there are good and bad elements to most jobs, so there’s a good chance that you will be able to find things you like and don’t like about anywhere you ever work.

Waiting for a ‘dream job’ to come along is a bit of a copout, and it can cause people to waste a lot of time being unhappy when they don’t have to be.

I’ve had jobs that I love, jobs that I like, and jobs that I couldn’t stand. (See: Six signs that you’re in the wrong job.) Looking back, I can see that it wasn’t the differences between them, it was my own approach and attitude towards the job that was the deciding factor. And good and bad they were all a part of my career.

That’s the real secret to success: realizing that jobs don’t matter anymore. Careers do.

How that miserable job is actually your secret weapon for success
Making the transition from dreading going to work to actually looking forward to it can be done with a simple change of perspective. First off, don’t think of your job as a life sentence. Nobody has that kind of job security anymore. Most people change jobs every few years – and many gigs don’t even last that long. Job hopping is the new normal. Sooner or later you’ll be working somewhere else, so what can you do in the meantime to make the most of this temporary role?

    Learn all that you can

    One of the reasons that many people don’t like their jobs is because they are bored for much of the day. Well that’s death. (It’s true, boredom can be terminal.) We need to be challenged, to grow at work. Try to do more, volunteer to help out with other projects, find new and better ways to accomplish your tasks. Is there a department whose work seems less dull than your own? Pitch in on those, and learn all there is to know about that area of the business. One of the most significant perks of any job is what you can learn during your time there to grow your career.

    Find something you can be really good at

    There is a feeling of satisfaction that comes from doing a job (any job) really, really well. And you know what? People notice excellent work, and they respect those who put in the extra effort to do a fantastic job. Advancement, connections, raises and recommendations all follow from demonstrating that you go above and beyond.

    It can be hard to get motivated to do this when you don’t like your job, but just showing up, dragging your feet, getting through the day doing strict minimum and collecting your paycheck never made anyone happy. (And building a reputation as a negative slacker will only make it harder for you to leave the dreaded job for a better one.)

    Focus on the things you do like

    Every job has its pros and cons. When you’re in a negative state towards your job, you tend to only pay attention to the things that bother you. Try looking at the good instead. Are there some people who you see over the course of your day whose company you enjoy? If not, try making an effort to get to know people better. That in itself can be a creative and rewarding challenge. (The other great perk of any job can be the people you meet, the connections you make.)

    Do you get any satisfaction out of the work itself? How’s the commute or the work environment? At the very least there’s the paycheque, you must enjoy that. And not just for the money, but for the recognition that someone values your efforts enough to pay you to show up and work for them.

    What can you change about the things you don’t like?

    What bothers you about the job? Is it the schedule, the commute, the workload, the physical work environment? A surprising amount of things from shift to job title, from salary to seating arrangement can be negotiated with your employer. Fixing even one of the issues that is bringing you down can improve your day, show you that your boss values you enough to make changes to keep you happy and can leave you feeling more empowered about your situation. Negotiation is a valuable skill that will help you out over the course of your career. Get some practice negotiating in at the job you already don’t like while there’s less at stake. (See: Two reasons not to quit your job.)

    Remember that it makes it easier to find a new job

    It is a strange truism that it is easier to find a job when you already have a job. So if the cons outweigh the pros of your current role, you’ve learned all you can, and you can’t change the situation to make it better, there’s still an upside. You can show up cheerfully knowing that this less-than-ideal position is still helping you snag that next step along your career journey.

We’re not going to love every day at every job we go to, and we’ll probably always like Fridays more than Mondays. But by taking every learning opportunity, making new friends and connections, standing out from the crowd by doing excellent work, and having a positive attitude, we can turn the daily grind into just a part of an overall dream career.

See also:

How that minimum wage job can lead to future wealth

Six signs that you’re in the wrong job

The best time to quit your job

Survey: six things employers want to see in your social profiles


Peter Harris

Peter Harris on Twitter