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If You Want to Travel, Get a Job You Hate

by Brooke Watson Mar 24, 2014

Get a job you hate, and you’ll feel nothing but freedom when you leave. If you need to take time to save up, take that boring receptionist job in your hometown that you can use as a catalyst. Have too many roommates, cook cheap pasta dinners, and put as much of your paycheck as you can spare toward your plane ticket. Give your two-weeks notice, and feel nothing but liberation — you’re abandoning nothing but that job you hate.

Get a job you hate, because your adventure is more important than your paycheck. Walk dogs and clean kitchens in Barcelona, because mastering salsa and the Spanish subjunctive is worth the dirty dishwater. Pick kiwis in exchange for meals and a bed in the New Zealand countryside, because the sunset over the mountains will ease your aching back. Take any opportunity that prolongs the adventure, and don’t dare think about how it will look on your resume.

Get a job you hate, so you can learn to leave work at work. Feel the tedium, exhaustion, or apathy creep into your skin, but when it’s time to clock out, be gone. Shred through the fallacy that a career can be perfectly fulfilling, the notion we stake everything on when we chant the “Follow Your Dreams” mantra.

In the job you hate, understand what people mean when they say the loss of one sense makes the others grow stronger. When your outside passions, interests, and relationships carry you through miserable work, you won’t forget to nurture them once you land the job you love.

Get a job you hate, and pay attention to why you hate it. Avoid those qualities in your future. Learn that the lifestyle, skill sets, and temperament needed in your chosen path carry far more weight than your initial attraction to a particular industry. Our aspirations tend to focus too heavily on what we want to be — a firefighter, a doctor, a producer, a zookeeper — reducing complex individuals to their uniforms and media depictions. Focus instead on how you want to spend your days.

Let your job fuel your hate-fire and aim you toward what you love.

If your mind grows numb at your challenge-free desk job, seek active work with problems that need solving. If you can’t stand your stressful 80-hour workweek, find out what you can give up in order to scale back. Be honest with yourself about what you need to be happy. When you find your needs changing, adapt to them. Discover which aspects of your work life — schedule flexibility, financial stability, creative control — you are not willing to sacrifice, and work around them.

Get a job you hate, but know for a fact it is temporary. It’s far easier to cruise along in a job you don’t mind, but also far more toxic. If job satisfaction is a spectrum, it seems desirable to get as near the top end as possible, but in the middle lies true danger.

Horrible jobs are valuable in their transience — they allow you a peek into a world for a short period of time. When you find yourself in the quicksand of a job you feel apathetic about, look at your opportunities for advancement. If none of them excite you, cut your losses before you feel you’ve invested too much in a job you merely tolerate.

Get a job you hate, and keep your eyes on the prize. Start small. If the job you hate is in an industry you love, with a foreseeable path toward your dream job, keep going. Hustle hard, and work your way up. If it isn’t, if the job you hate is entirely unrelated to your field, look laterally. Hustle harder, and explore what you love on the side. If you want to write or produce or make music, start creating. If you need to go back to school, save up. Take night classes. Let your job fuel your hate-fire and aim you toward what you love.

Get a job you hate, but make sure you can see the end point. Brainstorm, hustle, analyze, explore, stay mindful, make contacts, do work on the side. Learn patience, gratitude, and self-worth, even if you must do so by experiencing their polar opposites. Get familiar with your passions, skills, and values, and be honest with yourself.

Then, and only then, go get that job you love.

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