For four years, I traveled across Europe and the Middle East. I pursued my passion and talent for language schools and studied French, Italian, German, and Arabic. I visited museums, famous cafes, historical landmarks, and took tours to the countryside. I made tons of friends and went on weekend trips to the mountains or desert. It was, without a doubt, the best time of my life. And I screwed myself over.
Once you’ve hit that peak, everything else seems mediocre. Even though I enjoy my job, there is always a part of me that wants to pack a bag and leave. But this isn’t a possibility. I’ve got responsibilities here: car payments, familial responsibilities, ongoing improv classes, and commitments that span across the next sixth months. Besides that, now is the time that I need to focus on my career and save money. I’ve learned that a lot of people struggle with the same thing.
No matter how tied down I am at my job, I keep finding myself justifying booking a flight (specifically a $230 flight from LAX to London on Norwegian Air) and taking some crazy two-month vacation. When these sort of things aren’t a possibility, you need ways to stay motivated in your life. You need to enjoy what’s going on in your life and make waiting for that trip bearable.
It’s easier than you’d think. Here are things that I do to stay motivated at my 9 to 5 job.
Keep Things Exciting
It’s a good idea to have things going on in your life that you look forward to. For me, it’s those improv classes in Los Angeles, skydiving in September, a Lizzo concert, and an upcoming trip to Japan. I’ve got count-down apps for these events and when I see the number of days tick down, I get a little bit happier.
Plan Your Next Trip
I am simultaneously planning a trip to China, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and a few major cities in the United States right now. There is no way that I’m actually going to those places any time soon (although someday I will.) Still, it’s extremely entertaining for me to build folders on Instagram of all the cool places and things that I could do in each of these places.
Remind Yourself Of Your Goals
When work gets boring or stressful or just plain unenjoyable, we often ask ourselves, “what am I doing here?” But we’re all working towards something. Maybe for some people it’s a better job, better pay, a promotion, or being able to transfer to another city.
For me, I’m saving up to move to Los Angeles so that I can continue with my improv classes easier and be in a city that I’ve always wanted to live in. But I can’t just leave right this instant. I need more job experience and more savings. I also like living with my mom and spending time with my dog.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed at work, I like to make a plan of where I want to go in life (and how I’d like it to play out) and then think about how my current job plays into it.
Maintain A Happy Work Environment
If you go to work and you hate your coworkers, the kitchen is disgusting, you feel over-worked, and have a tiny desk, absolutely no one is going to feel good about walking in that door five days a week. I’m lucky enough to be in a supportive and healthy work environment, working with people who I genuinely enjoy.
Ideally, work will be enjoyable for you. I understand that some people don’t have the luxury of easily finding a new job. So the only thing you can really do in this situation is to try to make the best of it, even if it’s keeping flowers or plants at your desk and having your favorite Spotify playlist on in the background.
Treat Yo Self
It’s important to save your money, but every once in a while, we need to see the fruits of our labor. Me, I like to get a massage, buy some nice clothes, get a tattoo, or take a weekend trip somewhere. I have friends who treat themselves by getting their nails done on every other Friday, go to a lot of concerts and live shows, or even save up to adopt a puppy.
Whether or not you’re an extrovert, you need to socialize. I’ve gotten stuck in this rut where I come home from work every day, just to read Game of Thrones and binge watch Mind Hunter or Future Man. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy doing these things, but they become remedial once you do them every. single. day.
I have to remind myself to go out and be social a few times a week. It’s easy to spend time with my best friends, but the kicker is going out to a bar (or in my town, a trendy brewery), dinner, or a local event. I’ve made myself a social bucket list of sorts, setting goals to hang out with certain people, go to specific events, and even plan out movie nights.
One of my favorite quotes by Paulo Coelho is, “when each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.” And it’s true. When your days are the same, time passes slowly and we stop enjoying the little things.
I guess the goal here is to make your time enjoyable so that those countdowns to your trips or the big move go by pretty fast. It might seem hard to make time for this or, for some people, even allow yourself these simple pleasures.
But what good is all of this if you’re not happy?