How to Change Your Mindset When You’re Just Not Mentally Ready to Work

Whether it is after a hard week at work, a beautiful weekend, a vacation, or a leave of absence, sometimes you just don’t feel work ready.

It likely is a mindset thing. And, yes, mindset does matter. 

When your thoughts tell you that work simply is not what you want to do, work can be the hardest thing to do.  Even if you know you have to do it.

Taking time to focus on your mindset can cure feelings of dread, anxiety, stress, or disdain for your job.  It can also improve your disposition as it relates to who you work for, who you work with, and what you do.

Left unattended, however, you may question if you should ever go back to work.

Before things go too far, or you settle into a pattern that you can’t get yourself out of, focus now on changing your work mindset for the better.

How Did Your Work Mindset Get SO Bad?

how to change your mindset to positive

There are so many jokes, memes, and therapist offices filled with complaints about work.  The idea of not liking your job or anything related to work is not new.

No matter the reason that work does not work for you, your mindset is always a big part of the equation.

Somewhere down the line, you have permitted a subtle opinion or occasional idea of your dislike of work to become a repetitive thought. The repetition of thought has now become your belief.  And once you have developed a belief, you have essentially created a new truth or reality for yourself.

Your job is not where you want to be.

Seamlessly, your thoughts, emotions, experiences, and surroundings support your anti-work belief.  You have tons of data that validate the lack of alignment with your job.

When you get to this stage, it is hard to just believe something different.  Your belief is set and your mindset tells you that your job being bad is a reality; it’s just a fact.

Is It Normal to Not Want to Go to Work?

Yes and no.  It is common that people do not want to go to work for a host of reasons that boil down to not enjoying the experience.  And while the reasons may be diverse, the dissatisfied feeling becomes the thread that binds people together.

Work and dissatisfaction are deemed expected, or normal.

But just because complaining about work is common does not mean that it should be accepted as normal. And, therefore, you don’t have to accept it as normal to not want to go to work. 

It is equally possible and probable to enjoy the work that you do, the company you work for, the person you report to, and your job overall. 

The issue commonly is that individuals have learned to normalize not enjoying their job. You may have been exposed to others who do not enjoy their job. Or you may have regularly heard that work is just that “work”, something that is hard, that is unfortunate, and is an unfortunate necessity.

With these exposures over time, you become accustomed to hearing, seeing, and experiencing work as a poor experience. The classic misery loves company phenomenon.

But when you decide that dreading work is an experience you do not want to be normal for you, you can alternatively choose thoughts and actions that create an optimistic and productive work mindset.

With the mindset that your work experience can be better than the one you’ve heard about, or even better than the one that you are currently experiencing, you can search for and create solutions to produce a better outcome.

How Do I Get a Better Mindset About Work?

Because every work experience is different for everyone, the best place to start to change your work mindset is to examine your personal vision of work.

In the short term, you may have an opinion that I would be happy if this would just stop or if this person would just treat me better. 

But going beyond your immediate pain point can render you a much better long-term resolution to your anti-work disposition.

Self-Assessment Can Redefine Your Work Mindset

Instead of focusing on your resistance to where you are, take time to learn more about where you truly want to be.  Even if you cannot change your current circumstances, self-assessment is a healthy means to gain clarity of your goals and feel more in control of your intended outcomes.

When you can envision and understand your goals, you are more likely to achieve them. And to have a positive mindset regarding the job that you prefer.

  • What do you want to gain from working?

  • How do you define success in a job?

  • What skills do you have that you would enjoy using regularly?

  • Are you motivated to work right now? And if not, why not?

The list of exploratory questions related to your work preferences and your work mindset is endless. 

For additional things to consider regarding your ideal job, read my posts on How to Know It’s Time for a Job Change or How to Get the Job You Really Want.

Regardless of the method, develop your picture of what job you want to have and then evaluate what you do now against your ideal expectations.

Undergoing this process will put you on the path to attaining a better mindset by aligning with what you truly want. 

What If Your Ideal Job and Your Current Job Are Close

If your current job includes any part of your vision for your ideal job, use this to create a better work mindset by reinforcing the positives about the job you have.

You may have room to grow toward obtaining the ideal job.

But the experiences that you have available to you now fall in line with where you want to go.

Try to limit your focus on what is wrong or explore ways to improve your current work life.

Accentuate regularly to yourself how much you truly gain from your job and plan your steps forward toward your ultimate vision.

What If Your Current Job and Your Ideal Job Are Miles Apart

If you find that your current job is nowhere near your ideal vision, then at least you have identified exactly where you stand.

You may be in the completely wrong role and need to leave your job. Or you may have the best job but work in a toxic environment.

No matter the reason, you will need to be strategic and plan your way to bridge the gap from where you are to where you want to be.

In the interim of your transition of improvement, consider ways to minimize the impact of your current environment on your mindset:

  • Engage with positive, like-minded co-workers who are working toward progression in their career

  • Explore opportunities to learn outside of your core job responsibilities through others, volunteering for projects or committees, or studying in your free time

  • Start working on your exit plan and create a countdown calendar of tasks that lead you to the path you prefer to be on

  • Find other aspects of your job to find interim joy in like the built friendships, special events, mindset mentors, or even your productive use of your commute

And, in the interim, release the need to look to your current job to be better than what you already confirmed it can’t be. 

So stop dumping your emotions and energy into trying to change what it is. 

Until you settle the lack of alignment between the job you want to have and the one that you are currently doing, you will always find some level of discomfort in what you are doing today.

How Do I Sustain a Positive Mindset at Work?

Ironically, no matter if your current job is close to your ideal or not, you can find yourself with a poor mindset regarding going to work. 

A negative work mindset is born the moment you have one seriously poor experience at work, a host of small disconnected moments, or anything in between. 

You must take an active role in deciding that you want to be positive about work and then do what is necessary to achieve it.

Wayne Dyer, a former author and long-time motivational speaker, had a quote that sums it all:

“If you change the way you look at things,
the things you look at change.”

Wayne Dyer

Changing your mindset about work is essentially changing the way that you look at things at work. No one can change your outlook for you. But you can choose to change it for yourself.

Changing the Direction of Your Thoughts

If you are in alignment (or mostly in alignment) with your ideal work experience, then you may have an easier means to shift your mindset.

Accept first that no work environment will be perfect every day.

And, when reflecting on how close your current job is to your ideal job, really take in the total value of your job to your life.

Other actions you can take to make a difference to your positive work mindset are to:

  • Focus on what you gain from your job instead of what you have lost in a singular moment
  • Communicate your needs and allow others a chance to support you if possible
  • Look internally when bad situations arise and take an honest review if you are being overly sensitive or critical

  • Expect the best from others instead of looking for proof of their failures
  • Practice self-care at work and utilize tactics like healthy use of boundaries, maintaining reasonable work hours, or communicating authentically as a means to reduce stress and improve your optimism

Using these methods and regularly looking for the positive aspects of your job, can reframe your thinking and train you to a positive work mindset.

For a job that is essentially what you want but that is rough around the edges at times, practicing the serenity prayer can do a lot.

Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other

serenity prayer

How Can I Be Positive If I Am in the Wrong Job?

how do you change your mindset

If your self-assessment regarding your ideal job has uncovered that you are in the completely wrong place, then consider this as a positive.

You may not have the ideal circumstance today, but you do have the ideal vision.

Now, with a clear model in mind, you can take steps to achieve the dream that you want to have instead of suffering a reality that does not serve you.

Use this knowledge as motivation and a positive outlook that you have a clear goal and means to create meaningful direction.

In the interim of making positive change for yourself, it is also imperative to maintain as much of a positive work mindset that you can muster. 

You take you with you wherever you go. 

That said, you want to project the mindset and disposition to match the place that you want to be, even if it may take you some time to get there.

Until you are in the position to change your job, your department, or any other transitions to put your closer to your ideal working environment:

  • Practice regular self-care of your mental, physical and spiritual health. When you are fatigued in any of these areas you are more prone to be dissatisfied and irritable in all areas of your life.

  • Create clear milestones from where you are to where you want to be. Achieving even mini-wins towards your true goals can shift your focus from what is going wrong to what you are doing right.

  • If it’s time, develop your exit plan. Start putting the pieces together to remove yourself from what is not working and feel relief that you are actively working toward better.

For help with tackling your resume, take a look at my guide, Tools for the Best Resume Rebuild Ever.


Changing your work mindset can be difficult when it seems like every day you walk into a headache. And when you take a much-needed break, it can be even harder to get into the mindset to even want to go to work .

Know that the power to change your work mindset always rests in your hands, even if it takes time to build the muscle.

Identify what you want to get out of work, reflect on what may be working for you with where you are today, and plan positively for your future.

Take care of your needs and relieve yourself of the expectation that anyone else will. As you work diligently on hitting the milestones leading to the work-life you prefer, your work mindset will improve and being positive will be much easier to do.

Do you have any special tips and tricks to improve your work mindset? Or maybe you have a unique situation that seems well beyond what a positive work mindset can cure. Leave your comments below so we can share ways to get in a better place today!

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