Finding the Strength to Stay in a Job You Don’t Care About With Retirement on the Horizon : Future Focus Counselling & Consulting

Retirement, that long-anticipated phase of life where the daily grind becomes a distant memory, may be tantalizingly close yet still a few years away. For many people in this situation, the last few years leading up to retirement can feel excruciating, particularly if they’re stuck in a job or role they don’t particularly enjoy anymore. It’s like the last lap of a marathon: you’re so close to the finish line but those final miles can feel like the toughest. So, how do you muster the strength to persevere? Here are some suggestions:

Assess Your Financial Readiness

First things first: knowing your financial standing is crucial. Financial advisors often recommend that, by the time you retire, you should have at least 25 times your annual living expenses saved up (Bogleheads, n.d.). If you’re not there yet, this might be the motivation you need to stay in your current job, especially if it pays well. There are numerous retirement calculators online that can help you assess your situation.

Create Mini Milestones

Instead of looking at it as a 3-5 year slog, break that time into smaller milestones. Reaching these mini-goals can offer a psychological boost. Psychologist Robert Maurer advocates the “Kaizen approach,” where even a small, incremental improvement can help maintain momentum (Maurer, 2014).

Re-evaluate What Matters

While you may not care about the job itself, perhaps there are aspects of it that still hold value. Is it the colleagues? The ability to mentor younger employees? Maybe the stability? According to Daniel Pink’s theory on motivation, autonomy, mastery, and purpose are key drivers (Pink, 2009). Find elements of these in your role if possible.

Harness the Power of Routine

Routine creates predictability and can lower stress. Stick to a daily routine that helps you manage the parts of the job you don’t like. Routine has been shown to reduce decision fatigue, a psychological term for the deterioration of decision-making abilities after making too many decisions (Vohs et al., 2008).

Seek Support

Discuss your feelings with trusted friends, family, or mental health professionals. Sometimes just talking about it can offer relief and provide a fresh perspective. Peer support in the workplace can also help reduce stress (Heaphy & Dutton, 2008).

Reconnect With Your Interests Outside of Work

Engage in activities that bring joy and satisfaction. Sometimes happiness outside the job can spill over, making the job more tolerable. A study published in the “Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology” indicated that engaging in creative activities outside of work could improve job performance (Eschleman et al., 2014).

Plan Your Exit Strategy

If sticking it out really seems impossible, consider planning a gradual exit strategy. Could you move to part-time, consult, or take on a less demanding role? Remember, however, that this could impact your retirement savings and benefits.


Staying in a job you don’t care for with retirement a few years away isn’t easy, but with the right approach, it’s doable. If all else fails, keep your eyes on the prize: a life of retirement where you are in control of your time and activities.


  • Bogleheads. (n.d.). Retirement planning. Retrieved from
  • Maurer, R. (2014). One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way. Workman Publishing.
  • Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Riverhead Books.
  • Vohs, K. D., Baumeister, R. F., Schmeichel, B. J., Twenge, J. M., Nelson, N. M., & Tice, D. M. (2008). Making choices impairs subsequent self-control: A limited-resource account of decision making, self-regulation, and active initiative. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94(5), 883–898.
  • Heaphy, E., & Dutton, J. (2008). Positive social interactions and the human body at work: Linking organizations and physiology. Academy of Management Review, 33(1), 137-162.
  • Eschleman, K. J., Madsen, J., Alarcon, G., & Barelka, A. (2014). Benefiting from creative activity: The positive relationships between creative activity, recovery experiences, and performance-related outcomes. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 87(3), 579–598.

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