When I was in college, I worked a ton of part-time jobs, including working in the Weis Markets deli for about a year. I sliced lunch meat. I made cheese platters. I mopped floors. I did absolutely nothing creative or involving English (my major) in any way.

I know a lot of people do these little “throw away” jobs for the money, especially during college. Most people, however, have a bad attitude about these jobs. Did I love going to work every day at Weis? No way. Did I make the most of the situation? YES. My manager and the store manager constantly complimented me on my positive attitude, strong work ethic, customer service skills, and reliability. But I didn’t really do anything special…at least, in my opinion, I didn’t do anything that was above and beyond.

I certainly didn’t do anything that any other worker there couldn’t do.

So why didn’t others take the same approach to working that I did? And perhaps a better question - why did I bother?

Simply put, people don’t care about jobs when they aren’t passionate and don’t see how this paycheck position will ever benefit them. If the only motivation is money, why not put in as little effort as possible for the paycheck? Why do more work if this is never going to help you achieve your dreams?

Remember when you were a kid and your parents made you do things you didn’t want to do because they said it “builds character”? Building character isn’t something that ends when you turn 18! Putting forth effort to do a job to the best of your ability helps you stay active and motivated so that you can also put toward tons of energy to your passions. You’re filling up that character meter.

Otherwise, it is easy to fall into complacency. We get into the habit of not doing more than necessary at work, and that bleeds over into other parts of our lives. Suddenly, we wake up ten years later still working at the deli counter at Weis with no real motivation to get out of that rut.

You may hate your job today, but get into the habit of putting forth your best effort anyway. Even if you never get a single benefit from the job that you can use to help you reach your goals, think of it like stretching your muscles. Use this as a way to stay motivated so you can achieve the things that really do matter to you.

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  1. Nicholas Cardot (Reply) on Saturday 18, 2010

    I’m the same way. Although my time in the military ends in just 4 months, I’m incredibly motivated about the work that I’m doing and the people around me take notice of it…and they tell me that they do.

    I get so tired of watching people around me just sit and whine and complain. I think that it’s an absolute reflection of our character and it’s very seldom a reflection of the actual job or the conditions of the job.

    • Allison (Reply) on Saturday 18, 2010

      Even when the job sucks, being negative doesn’t really help, right? You’re right, too many people whine and complain. To me, it’s like…there are already so many crap things in this world we have to deal with, why go to the effort to be negative about something when we can choose to be positive?

  2. Lauren Ashley Miller (Reply) on Saturday 18, 2010

    This was a great post! I can really relate; I was always that way with retail-type jobs. I’m that way still, and I think it was my days in the newsroom as a journalist and editor in chief of my college newspaper that give me my deadline driven, no excuses motivated attitude. Once I got it, it never really faded away.
    I think you can make a job more interesting if you don’t submit to complacency or the bare minumum but instead work harder to really challenge yourself. This will always make something more stimulating.
    Great advice here, I agree wholeheartedly and appreciate the insights.

    • Allison (Reply) on Saturday 18, 2010

      Thanks, Lauren! I totally agree with you - when you go into a job with a positive attitude, it doesn’t suck as much! I didn’t especially like my Weis job, but my co-workers used to try to switch their schedule to work with me because not only was I a hard worker (which meant that we got out of work more quickly), but we also had a fun time, even when doing boring tasks.

  3. [...] pavement hard. I took jobs I didn’t necessarily love in order to build my portfolio (and build character). I spent every day looking for new clients. I connected with people. I worked long hours, not just [...]

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