8 Ways to Get Through Your Day Job Without Shooting Yourself in the Face

If it’s between the hours of 9a-5p and you’re reading this from your day job, keep reading. Wait, let me revise that. If you’re reading this at any point during the day or night where you’re somewhere to solely pay the bills, with the time before/after being reserved for working on your Dream Career, and you’re wondering how you can possibly do this day after day until you’re ready/ willing/ able/ comfortable/ confident in leaving without shooting yourself in the face, then keep reading.

I’ve gotten this question a lot. “Michelle!” it’s been exclaimed. “I know that this job is a means to an end. I know, even, why I’m here and the benefit it gives me in reaching my dream. I know, too, that I won’t be here forever – but the goal I set for myself to leave in early 2012 seems like eternity, and I fear of being way bored and frustrated and upset about being here ‘til then. I really might shoot myself in the face. How did you do it when you were at your day job? Please help me not harm myself or my stupid boss who keeps giving me boring projects to work on that make me wanna shoot myself in the face!”

Ah, yes, have I been here. I think the lowest point of me at my day job lead me to write How Is This My Life?, which is exactly what I would ask myself as I was stuck at the copier for over an hour or was asked to unpack 5 boxes it took me 3 hours to pack to find orange soda for one of the jerkoffs guys I supported (don’t ask). I took the job specifically knowing the purpose it would serve – namely, allowing me to get certified and build up my life coaching business while getting compensated financially and weaving my safety net – but sometimes, it just didn’t matter. The 2 years and 7 months I was there were sometimes more torturous because I knew it wasn’t my path!

So, how can you prevent yourself from shooting yourself in the face? Here are some suggestions:

1. Make it a game. Whether it’s “how fast can I get this done without majorly screwing it up?” or “Every time my boss says “um” I’m gonna mark it down and see how many I have at the end of the week. If it’s more than 100 then I’m taking myself out to lunch”,it counts.

2. Read The Artist in the Office. Carry it around with you at all times. Do every exercise in the book. Repeat.

3. Give yourself a visual reminder of why you’re still there/what’s awaiting you, and put it up within constant eyesight in your cube/office – on the wall, on your desktop, etc. I put up my When I Grow Up logo, another client put up a poster she designed, and another draws daily on Post-Its with scenes of what she’s gonna do when she’s outta there (doing yoga on a beach, for example) and posts them around her cube. She’s no artist, so she says that if anyone asks, she’ll claim that her niece made ‘em for her. Love it!

4. Ensure that you take some time for yourself during the day out of the office. Take a field trip. Call a friend. Read a book. Take pictures. Just take any break you can get (if a whole lunch hour is too tough), get out of the office, and make it all about you.

5. Start and end your day for you. Instead of just waking up, taking a shower, getting dressed and heading right to work, what can you do for yourself before walking out the door? No need for it to be extensive, especially if you’re not a morning person (like me!). What’ll take 10 minutes or less but will be a piece of the morning that you’d actually look forward to? Think about going through your Google Reader, or dancing to your favorite song, or doing a few sun salutations. Then, ask yourself the same question, but make it about ending your day. Again, nothing extensive, but something that’s just for you. Right now, I write in my 5 Year Journal before shutting off the light every night. I love reflecting on my day and making note of the best part of it – that’s just for me. What can you look forward to when you wake up and before you go to sleep?

6. Set an intention at the start of every day, and write it on a post-it note that you stick on your computer or your phone. By focusing on just one word (i.e. “friendly” or “inquisitive” or “helpful”), you can have an M.O. for the day – a way for you to more easily fake it ‘til you make it, if you will.

7. Come up with a mantra that’ll help you get through the day. Whether it’s your Giving Notice Day (“January 2nd, 2012; January 2nd, 2012; January 2nd, 2012”) or the end result (“I’m gonna be a dog trainer, I’m gonna be a dog trainer, I’m gonna be a dog trainer”), find the words that’ll calm you down and put things in perspective. Just try not to say them out loud in public at full volume. That’ll so give you away.

8. If you know the date you’re giving notice, start a backwards countdown on your calendar. I did this for the last 4 months I was at my day job (which is when I realized I could give my notice as soon as I received my bonus), and I loved sitting down to work each day and seeing that I was a day closer to my goal. It was super motivating, and also acted as my little secret, since there was nothing there but “53 days!” Exciting stuff.

Ya know what, though? Regardless of how you do, you’re gonna do it, and that’s worth so, so much. Make sure that you pat yourself on the back and give yourself mucho credit for making (and acting on!) the plan to begin with! That’s more than most people do, and will absolutely give you a leg up when it’s time to hoof it out of there and shuffle off to your Dream Career. You can do it (and without messin’ up that pretty little face of yours by shooting yourself in it)!