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6 ways to stay motivated when you hate your job but can’t quit

If you want to quit but can't (or at least not yet), here are six ways to stay motivated and make the best of things.

7 ways to stay motivated

Can't quit your job just yet for the sake of your CV? Or maybe you've been at the same company for years and know that moving on would mean a big drop in salary. People get trapped in jobs for all kinds of reasons. If you want to quit but can't (or at least not yet), here are six ways to stay motivated and make the best of things.

1. Build on the positive

You might not be able to change your job or circumstances, but you can change your mind-set. Rather than focusing on the negative, identify aspects of the role that you do enjoy.

'You're likely to be good at the parts of your job that you enjoy – and doing more of it will boost your confidence and help you to stay positive,' says Sarah Archer, career coach and co-founder of CareerTree.

'Talk to your boss (unless they are the reason you hate your job), and see if there is any opportunity for you to get involved in different projects and take on more or less responsibility depending on what is making you unhappy. Most managers want to keep good staff and should be open to reviewing workload or job focus.'

2. Modify your role

Don't like a single thing about the job? Think about what you would enjoy doing, even if it's not currently within the remit of your role.

'Maybe you could offer to train or induct new recruits, write some content for the social media sites, or organise a social event,' suggests Corinne Mills of Personal Career Management and author of Career Coach.

'Alternatively, you might put forward a business case for spending time with another department or a customer or supplier, to strengthen relationships or improve processes. At the very least, it will give you a change of scene.'

3. Develop new skills

When you feel stuck or like you are stagnating, Corinne's advice is to turbo-charge your skills development. 'Look out for training courses, find a mentor or coach, or take an evening class. Learning new things will improve your employability and boost your morale.'

See if you can get your employer to fund some training. Even if there's no budget, there are things you can do that cost very little or nothing.

'Join professional forums and get yourself to conferences. As well as updating your knowledge and expertise, meeting new people who are enthusiastic and positive about their work can be a breath of fresh air.'

4. Consider volunteering

Doing a job you hate can chip away at your self-confidence, particularly if you've been in the same role for years. Volunteering is one way to remind yourself that work can be worthwhile and exciting.

'Many organisations will arrange employer sponsored volunteering where you work with charitable projects supported by the company, or you could consider volunteering in your spare time,' says Corinne.

'Get involved in something that you really enjoy or feel is worthwhile. A positive work experience can do wonders for your self-esteem – and that can have a knock-on effect on the way you view your current job.'

5. Surround yourself with positive people

Are your lunch buddies supportive and encouraging or the office moaners?

While your colleagues don't have to pretend to love everything about the company, they should have some positive things to say about the job some of the time.

Sarah says: 'Spending time with people who constantly complain will only bring you down. Surround yourself with positive people for the sake of your mental health, if not your motivation – and make sure you are engaged in enjoyable and positive activities outside of work too. Whether that's seeing friends or having a hobby or interest that absorbs you, it will give you some balance and make things seem more bearable.'

6. Plan your exit

Even if you can't leave just yet, planning your exit can improve your mood.

Corinne says: 'Brush up your CV and Linkedin profile, start networking and contact agencies. Maybe an opportunity will come up which is too good to miss.'

Even daydreaming about your escape can help. Sarah reveals: 'When I was in a particularly stressful job I used to dream about being a ceramic artist with my own studio. While I knew it wasn't realistic, the fantasy kept me buoyant and allowed me to see an alternative future.

I didn't become a potter, but I do now run my own business!'

Corinne goes one step further and suggests expressing your entrepreneurial spirit by starting a business in your spare time. 'This might be an online retail site, a part-time franchise opportunity, or providing services like tutoring or translation. Perhaps you can run this alongside your main job until it's bringing you in enough revenue to quit your day job?'

It's easy to feel stuck in a rut when you hate your job. But the more opportunities you see for yourself - and take steps to create - the more positive and motivated you will feel.