Struggling To Find Meaning In Your Day Job? Here's How To Deal With Work Blues

We all struggle with feelings of inadequacy from time to time, and we’re not immune to those feelings at our 9-to-5 positions. Finding fulfillment at work has been especially difficult in recent years, with studies showing depression levels increasing in working women exponentially.

By Anna Livia Brady3 min read
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Shutterstock/Arsenii Palivoda

But taking a step back and not letting your job define you while appreciating the benefits it brings can help you to take a breath, see how much you’ve grown, and find new sources of optimism for your future. Here’s how to deal with work blues and find joy even in the most mundane places. 

Stop the Comparison Game 

When TikTok moguls spill their secrets of how they purchased three homes by age 30, it’s no wonder that social media scrolls can leave us feeling anxious about our career and financial trajectories. 

But remember, those 30-second videos have been shot on high-quality cameras, edited, and tagged for algorithm optimization. In other words – they’re fake. What isn’t shown? The student loan default notices, bank alerts, and years of career re-assessments it took to get where those influencers are (not to mention the stress in maintaining their said success). 

The simple solution is to delete the social apps, at least for a bit, and let your brain re-adjust to reality. Look around your workplace and friend groups, and have real conversations with your peers. Even if you have pals who’re killing it at their job, chances are there’s more to their stories than meets the eye. And having these honest talks with them will reaffirm the truth: We’re all human, we’re all kinda faking it, and everyone’s journey is different. 

Approach Things from a Bird’s Eye View 

A critical step to finding meaning in your day job is to notice how it contributes to your overall goals and values. Whatever your profession, the skills and experiences you gain from each shift will help you become more well-rounded, more street-smart, and more emotionally intelligent. 

Your professional work is like a puzzle piece. You never know how many other pieces it connects until you take a step back and look at the whole picture. Plus, who knows how the people you meet, the projects you pursue, and the challenges you accept will help shape your future? 

Whatever your profession, your experiences will help you become more well-rounded and emotionally intelligent. 

Nurture Your Passion Inside (and Outside) Work

Even if your day job isn’t what you’d consider your ideal career, there are always ways to incorporate your passions and interests into what you do. For instance, say your dream job is in copywriting, and you currently work as a paralegal. Reach out to your manager or supervisor and ask if they’re in need of any copywriting or blogging services for their websites or social media profiles. The worst they can say is no! 

If your interests and job truly don’t align, find ways to engage in meaningful hobbies or side hustles to ensure that the things you love doing most are getting the attention they deserve. Remember, you’re a nuanced human being, not a workaholic robot. Treat yourself with the same kindness as you’d like your ideal boss to treat you. 

Set Healthy Boundaries 

Last year, we saw a rise in quiet quitting, or the practice of turning off workplace communications and activities after work hours are over. But, is this really such a recent concept? Back in the ‘50s, the ideal workday was exactly that – clocking in at 9am, take a lunch break, get home at 6pm, and leave work at work. 

While it’s great to strive for excellence in the office, there’s no shame in setting healthy boundaries between work and life. Even setting up an automated email response for a nosy boss that says, “I’m out of the office from (blank) to (blank) but I’ll respond as soon as I get back,” allows you to enjoy your time, get proper rest, and give all you’ve got during the workday (and feel more balanced in the process). 

Understand That Your Career Doesn’t Define You  

Even for those of us who love our jobs, it can be tricky to separate our identity from our profession. But the danger with associating your entire identity with work is that, once things get tough, we can feel quite bad about ourselves. Plus, lots of women go through career and lifestyle changes during their professional years, so attaching your self-worth to any one job, position, or company is a recipe for an anxiety cocktail. 

Here are a few helpful mantras to guide you through the workday: 

  • “My job is important, but it doesn’t define me.” 

  • “I am grateful for what I have right now.” 

  • “I am calm in times of prosperity and in times of uncertainty.”

Closing Thoughts 

While work blues can be common, they don’t have to rob you of a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and gratitude. Don't compare yourself to others, look at the whole picture, nurture your passions, set boundaries, and try not to define yourself solely by your career. By doing so, you’ll find more meaning in your job and enjoy a better work-life balance. 

We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, so all we can do is give our best efforts to our work and be grateful for whatever opportunities come our way. 

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