Regardless if you like your job, you should work hard at it. You should be a top-notch employee at that stupid yogurt stand, that menial gas station gig (don’t ask), or at any blighted employment. Jobs you don’t enjoy will always remain part of your work experience whether you like it or not. Despite how mundane or pointless the work may seem, it all adds up to a comprehensive ethic. Don’t mentally toss any job to the wayside while you still work there. That’ll make you lazy. Laziness is the worst.
Use that lame job as an arena to test yourself. If you don’t think the job is good enough for you, it means you’re capable of far more, right? Prove you’re capable of far more to everyone at that workplace. Make people reach for your standard. You probably won’t make more money doing this, but you’ll put yourself in a better position to do so in the future. Think of all the work you do at lame jobs as preparatory training for the job you really want.
Don’t waste your time wallowing in a misplaced sense of entitlement: that you should already have that good job, that the job you currently hold is beneath you, or that you’re way overqualified for the work you’re doing now. You’re wrong, wrong, and wrong. It’s not beneath you and you’re not overqualified. You have to earn everything you want. Don’t work to the standard of your current job. Look up towards that job that you want and work to that standard. If you have the mentality that you’re already working at the job you want, your productivity will skyrocket.
I’m a busboy at a restaurant. I pour water for people, I mop dirty floors, I take out the garbage, and I unclog toilets. So yeah. This job definitely doesn’t demand all of my being. But I try to make it demand as much as it can from me. I make sure I’m always doing something. If I finish all my tasks ahead of schedule, I go and ask the servers if they need any help. If that doesn’t fill my time, I might go do something that isn’t in my job description. I’ll wipe down the counters in the kitchen, shine some coffee mugs, help the dishwasher guy out, whatever. My coworkers might snicker and poke fun when I do this, but forget them. More often than not, they’re also the ones doing the wallowing.
The point is that although I don’t plan on working as a busboy for too long, I make sure that I work like I’m on my way to something greater; something that will require much more from me. The circumstances of your job shouldn’t matter when it comes to bettering yourself–even if you work at a damned restaurant.
Here’s a practical reason: working hard will guarantee you a good reference on a resume. If you do what is minimally required of you, sure, the employer probably won’t give you a bad recommendation. But if you work your butt off every time you come in, the employer will feel much more obliged to give you a sky-high recommendation. She might even be happy to do it. It could make the difference in getting that next job.
When you work hard at something you don’t particularly like, you’re telling everyone that you look beyond the context of the work itself. That you’ve honed in on becoming an indispensable employee. If you become indispensable at a job you like–maybe one you’ve grown to love, well, that’s the dream.