What to do if your 9-5 isn’t fulfilling you (but pays the bills)

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What to do if your 9-5 isn’t fulfilling you (but pays the bills)


Did you know, it’s been reported that millennials are more focused on fulfillment than making money? As a millennial myself, I think I can agree on that. We’re individuals who have strong socio-economic beliefs and life goals, and often we find ourselves in a 9-5 that doesn’t scratch that personal-achievement itch. If you’re in that situation now or preparing for the future, let’s talk about how you can keep focused and positive during, what is often, a tricky time for your mental health. 

Okay let’s set the scene. You’ve just spent 8 hours getting through your mundane daily tasks and dodging perfectly acceptable yet infuriating requests from colleagues, and now you’re sat at home or on the train tired, demotivated and sick-to-death-of-this-bullsh*t job. (You said it, not me). The questions “What am I doing?”, “Why am I not progressing?”, “What do I really want to do?” are running through your mind. 

You’re in a black hole.


Firstly, it’s a myth that your current job has to be your lifelong career.

Stop beating yourself up about not being on the right path because realistically any position is beneficial to you. Let’s not forget that iconic meme about celebrities who started their careers late in life and are now killing it. 

It goes: Vera Wang didn’t create her first wedding dress until 40… and so on!

I once worked as a temp receptionist in a private hospital and honestly, it was one of the most rewarding and positive times in my life. It may not have been my dream job but it gave me invaluable transferable skills and paid the bills. It also gave me the time to focus on what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go and how to get there. What are the positive things about your job at the moment? Is the lack of responsibility or excitement in fact allowing you to focus on your life outside of working hours? Try turning the negative thoughts into positive ones and set your sights on new goals. 


What excites you?

Take 5 solid minutes, at least, to sit down with a pen and paper and list the things you are passionate about. Don’t stop until you hear the 5-minute timer.

What could you talk about for hours? Begin researching how you can learn more about that certain subject or activity and how you can build a career around it if that’s your end goal. Also, note down what you know you are good at. Highlighting your own skills will boost self-esteem and confidence, and having a list jotted down will make job searching much more pleasant. Self-reflection is key to moving forward. The more clarity you have about what fulfils you, the more focused and positive you’ll be – making the search for your purpose a whole lot easier. 


“Knowledge is power”

There are numerous studies that show the act of learning makes you happier. At the risk of getting science-y, there is a part of the brain that is stimulated by the novelty of learning new things. When this section is activated, it releases dopamine which in turn motivates us and makes us feel rewarded. FutureLearn is an amazing platform with courses from myriad establishments and educators, offering education for free as well as paid memberships for more perks. Use it as a tool to improve your career aspirations or equally, find a new interest to invest your time in. Which brings me to my next point. 


Contrary to popular belief, you have the time for a side project outside of your 9-5

One of the only positives to come out of this year is that working from home is becoming the norm. The average commute in the UK is about 59 minutes, which equates to 221 hours per year spent travelling to and from work. That’s 221 extra hours to spend on extracurricular activities that fulfill you and keep you focused and positive. Go back to your list of what excites you and seriously contemplate starting a side hustle. If you’re feeling like you’re not accomplishing anything in your day job, start achieving things in your own time. If we refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a person can’t attain fulfilment without reaching the level of esteem, and this comes from the feeling of success. If you’re not getting that from your 9-5, create your own


Let’s go back to that dreary post-work scene. The clock’s hit 5pm, but instead of asking those sad questions to yourself, you’re logging onto that online course or planning the content of your new blog and the bubbling-butterfly feeling in your stomach is now excitement not worry. To quote Adrienne from the iconic Real Housewives of Beverly Hills “Money is what I have, not who I am”…just replace money with my job. You get it, right?


Words by Joanna Standley


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