Many people barely tolerate their job. But figuring out how to love your job or leave it for a different career can improve your quality of life.

I started thinking about this after a conversation with my wife. She’s a professor of surgery at a medical school in the mid-west, and she attended a talk by Dr. Tim Bono about positive psychology and how to be content.

Dr. Bono discussed a few key ideas I thought were very helpful in being content, or even finding happiness, with your job.

How to Love Your Job (Or Leave It)

3 traits to learn how to love your job

1. Gratitude

The more grateful you are, the better your outlook on life. When you think positively about what will happen in the next week and feel good about your life’s blessings, your physical health is better, too.

Student loan debt can make finding gratitude difficult. Many borrowers think, “If I could just have no student loan debt, my life would be so much better!” Can you think of anything that would feel better than that?

But here’s what I see: borrowers pay off their student loans, and when they get to zero debt, they feel a dopamine hit that’s intense. And it lasts for a while. The first couple of months you don’t have a student loan payment come out of your paycheck feels pretty good. But then you look around and think, “Well, shoot. What now?”

What happens is, when you pay off your loans, the excitement goes away, and you move to the happiness level you were at before.

2. Self-esteem

Self-esteem is the art of feeling good about yourself. A key part of finding happiness isn’t how we respond when things are going well, but how we respond to adversity and distress. Having high self-esteem means you’re less likely to internalize negative events.

You won’t assume it’s your fault or suffer from imposter syndrome. If you’re worried about being an imposter, then you’re probably humble enough that you’re not.

You should feel good about your education because you’ve accomplished a lot. You might feel a little taken advantage of if you have significant debt from going to school. But think about it: you still had to do the work to get through the program and survive all the obstacles you’ve been through.

Also, remember that failure is okay. It happens to the best of us. Depending on how you respond to failure, it could lead to a successful outcome.

3. Change your mindset

If you’re working to find contentment, you sometimes need to change your mindset. Writing things down and expressing yourself with a pen and paper is an excellent way to get out of your own head.

Let’s say you see something online – on Twitter or in the New York Times app – and it makes your blood boil. You get upset, and your mind spins with all the thoughts you’re having.

Instead of letting that sit and ruminate, write it down and get it out on paper so it doesn’t cause you stress and mental anguish.

There are always two ways to look at something. You can either think student loans are awful and will destroy your future, or you can be proud of your accomplishments and the fact that you get to make more money than you would without your education.

If you can master your mindset, you gain a lot of power over your circumstances.

What to do if changing your mindset doesn’t work

If you think your future is ruined, you’ll only end up hurting yourself. Try to show gratitude with your career, be careful about comparing yourself to others, have a positive mindset, and focus on having good self-esteem. Then pat yourself on the back for the excellent job you’ve done as a professional.

But what if that doesn’t work?

In that case, you might need to make a change. There’s nothing special about working in a job for 30 years that you don’t like when you could have made a change and done something different.

If you feel like you’ve been through trying to be happy with your job and not improving, you can leave the job. When I was in corporate America, that’s what happened to me. I felt like a round peg in a square hole, and it impacted my satisfaction in life.

But the key is that I did something about it. And I want to encourage you to make a change if that’s what it takes for you to be happy in your job.

Can you leave your job?

Sometimes you need to save up a substantial amount of money before leaving your job and pursuing your passions. This is the idea behind financial independence: it’s building up financial assets to have financial options.

Part of that is having a solid plan to repay your student loans. If you think you can’t make a change because of your student debt, you’re wrong. We consult with borrowers all the time who feel stuck in their job because of the burden of debt.

If you’re tired of feeling trapped in your job or by your student loans, book a consult with one of our student loan planners. We can help you find a repayment plan that can help you reach your goals.

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