I Don’t Want to Work! Why and What You Can Do About It

Five days a week, most of us spend most of our time staring at a computer screen, doing hard labor, or giving some of our time to our employer. Clock in, do the work, clock out—day in and day out. 

From the time we enter the workforce to the time we leave, most of us dream of our retirement. We think, “I don’t want to work. I just want to kick back, relax and do what I want to do.” 

There are many reasons why many of us think; I don’t want to work. But, there are also many things we can do to help ourselves feel better about our jobs or even achieve the goal of no longer working for a living. 

Is It Normal to Not Want to Work?

The short answer is yes, of course, it’s normal! Who wouldn’t want to be handed enough money to never have to worry about it again? 99% percent of us would give up our day jobs in a heartbeat if we had the chance; it’s just how it is.

If we didn’t have our jobs, we could do many things. We could spend more time with our families, pursue hobbies that interest us, and volunteer our time to help others. The possibilities would be endless. 

So, yes, having that “I don’t want to work” feeling is 100% normal, whether for a day, a few weeks, or years. We’ve all felt it at one point or another. 

Is It Okay Not To Want a Job or Career?

Everyone is a little different, right? Some of us strive to make it to the top of the mountain and be as successful as possible. Think CEOs, entrepreneurs, and other high-ranking officials. However, most of us fall into the “I’ll be successful, but regular successful” category. We are the working class with their position, want to do them well, but don’t want to spend 100 hours in the office.

Now, let’s put everything into context. To say I don’t want to work, but I want someone else to earn money and give me fancy things is one thing. However, to say I don’t want to work, I want to stay home and take care of my kids is something completely different. 

Not wanting a job or a career is perfectly fine, as long as the motivation is good. Expecting others to support you and give you everything your heart desires is a bit selfish. Taking care of kids and other family members or simply being in the position to be able to live off one income is acceptable. Not everyone has the same drive when it comes to working. 

I Don’t Want to Work: Why Not?

Besides the apparent reason of “life would just be a hell of a lot easier if I didn’t need to work,” there are plenty of others as to why we get the “I don’t want to work” feeling. 

You Lost Sight of Your Goal of Never Had One

Like anything else, it can feel like our work is pointless without goals. Unfortunately, for many of us, our goal is to simply do our job and get through the day, and that’s just not going to give us much motivation. 

We all need something to strive for. It doesn’t have to be an insanely lofty goal. Your goals can pertain to your specific job or more of an overall career goal. Without anything to aim for, you’ll never have a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from your work. 

You Achieved Your Goal, and It Didn’t Matter

Sometimes we have our eyes set on something, and we just know we want it so bad. When it comes to our work, maybe you want a specific role or work for a particular company. You are focused and motivated and do everything you can to achieve that goal.

Then, one day, you finally reach it, and… it’s nothing like you thought it would be. For one reason or another, you’ve achieved your goal, and it didn’t give you the satisfaction you thought it would, or it’s just not the way you imagined it. This can be seriously deflating and give us the “I don’t want to work” feeling very quickly. 

You Hate Your Job and\or Coworkers

More than likely, you’re not in love with your job. It pays the bills and serves its purpose, and you could take it or leave it. However, some of us are in positions or companies that are not good situations. Companies can be poorly run, have a toxic environment, be failing, or have 100 other reasons why they are not suitable to work for. When this is the case, hating your job or company and have a very detrimental impact on your motivation to work. 

Sometimes, the company you work for is fine, but the people you work with are the problem. One or two bad apples can ruin an entire department, depending on its size. When forced to interact with people you’d much rather avoid every day, it’s easy to have that “I don’t want to work” feeling. 

You Feel Underappreciated or Alienated

No matter who you are and how much you might deny it, we all want some sort of recognition for doing a good job. Some of us want a big song and dance. Others require only a simple thank you, and most are somewhere between. If you aren’t getting any affirmation for doing your work, the “I don’t want to work” feeling is bound to show its head.

No one likes to feel isolated either. Yes, some of us prefer to work alone, but that doesn’t mean we want to feel left out or excluded. If coworkers constantly alienate you, it can hurt your motivation big time.

No Inspiration

Artists aren’t the only ones that need some inspiration to do their job. If you’re not inspired by anything at your workplace or home life, it’s easy to feel like work is pointless. There needs to be some sort of spark that gets you going every day. If that’s missing, you’ll think, “I don’t want to work” more often than not.

Not Your Dream Job

Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. Sounds good, right? All you have to do is find your dream job. Unfortunately, that doesn’t exist for most of us or is extremely difficult to do. Noone’s dream job is to sit in a slightly comfortable chair, looking at spreadsheets and sitting on zoom calls all day.

Burned Out

No matter how robotic some of us might seem or feel, we’re all human. Sometimes we simply get burned out. Sometimes a day or two off will do the trick; other times, we might need a little longer. In other cases, a complete change of scenery is necessary due to reasons like the above or several other factors. 

Sometimes being burned out has nothing to do with work. Factors in our personal lives can leave us stressed and worn down, and we bring that attitude to work with us. Sometimes we just need a break to get rid of the “I don’t want to work” blues. 

Want Passive Income

I guess this one is somewhat obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Having any kind of passive income is super fantastic. Literally earning money for doing nothing. If you want to stop working, you need to make money while you sleep, as they say. On the other hand, having enough passive income to stop working can take a lot of time and effort upfront.

I Don’t Want to Work: What Can You Do?

Okay, so the “I don’t want to work” feeling has gotten to you. You can’t stand the idea of working another day and need to do something about it. Below are some steps you might consider before making any significant changes. 

Evaluate Mental Health

The first step you should take is to assess your mental health. You can do this on your own or seek professional help if you want an expert opinion on where your head is at. Our mental health is so vital for our overall happiness. There could be many things you might need to work through before being happy with your job. Take a step back and evaluate every aspect of your life, not just your profession. 

Determine the Reason You Don’t Want to Work

Another important step when you have the “I don’t want to work” feeling is to figure out why you have that feeling. Do you not like your coworkers, your boss, or the company you work for as a whole? These are fixable problems, for the most part. 

Maybe the problem is something more significant. For example, it’s possible you won’t be happy working anywhere doing a similar position. 

You’ll need to determine why you aren’t happy at work and then decide if these are fixable problems. If so, start making a plan on how you can fix them. Sprucing up your resume or figuring out what industry you’d be happier in are great starts. 

Imagine Life Without a Job

When we think about leaving our job, we often forget that it leaves an 8 to 10-hour void in our day. What would life be like without your job? What would you do all day? Would you be taking care of children and keeping a household running smoothly? Would you pursue hobbies or passions and try to make money with them? You’ll need to think about how you’ll fill your days.

You’ll also need to think about your financials without your current income. If you have a spouse, could you live on their salary alone? Would you have to cut back? If so, where? Maybe you would need to move to a lower cost of living area. Before doing anything, you need to think about how you’d live without your salary. 

Is Working Part-time an Option?

Having a part-time job doesn’t necessarily mean you need to work as a cashier at a Starbucks. There are plenty of options like that, but big companies will often allow employees to cut down their hours. Find out if your’s allows employees to work at a reduced salary and benefits to be a part-time employee. 

Again, you’ll have to figure out what you’ll do with the extra time and how this will change your financials. Simply working an hour or two less every day can significantly impact how we feel about our jobs. 

Improve Work\Life Balance

One of the most significant issues with our jobs is that it can feel like it dominates our lives. It seems everyone is required to be available all the time now. Hence, emails on our phones, coworkers have our cell phone numbers and the constant feeling that you need to be ready at a moment’s notice. 

Shifting that balance can be crucial if you want to shake the “I don’t want to work” feeling. Make it known that you’re unavailable after working hours and on weekends unless absolutely necessary. Take the email app off your phone, or don’t check them. 

Make sure when you’re workday is over, you’re not thinking about it.

Find a Way To Take a Break

Sometimes a simple break is all we need to shake the “I don’t want to work” feeling. Your break can be a day or two. Maybe you take a full-blown vacation to get away from everything work-related. Then, see how you feel after some time away.

Change Your Own Habits

It’s very possible that you are part of the problem. We all tend to fall into certain habits or rituals in our lives, and work is no different. So shake things up a bit if possible to give you a boost of enthusiasm. 

Improve a process that bogs you down or find a new way to do specific tasks. For example, if you’re in the office, find a new place to sit if possible. Change up as much as you can to see if that helps shake the “I don’t want to work” feeling. 

Consider Changing Jobs

If all else fails, it might be time to consider a new job. Starting fresh somewhere new will give you a new sense of hope and more. Many of the issues we’ve already discussed can be solved with a change of scenery.

Consider Career Change

If a new but similar job doesn’t get you excited enough, you might need to take a more significant step back and consider a career change. This can be more difficult as it could mean you’ll be taking a pay cut. You’ll have transferable skills but not as much experience in a different field as your current one. 

A career change often also requires a few classes or a whole new degree. Research what might be required of you in a new industry before making any significant decisions. 

Making a Living Without a Job

If the “I don’t want to work” feeling has gotten the best of you, and you simply can’t continue with your current job, it’s best to think of everything that will need to change once you leave your employment and are no longer bringing in a salary.

Have a Plan

Before leaving your job, you should have a plan in place. Your plan can include when you go, if you’ll make money a different way, what you’ll do with your extra time, etc. Really every part of your life will change somehow, and it’s best to think everything through and have a plan ready before you quit your job.

Cut Expenses

One of the most significant changes you’ll need to make if you don’t want to work anymore is your spending habits. Take a look at all of your spending to find places you can cut back. Many will be obvious, but depending on how much you need to cut back, you might need to dig deep into where you’re spending your money.

Food, clothes, subscriptions, vacations, cars, mortgage, or rent are all significant areas you can easily cut back your spending to find a few extra dollars each month.

Have an Emergency Fund

If you don’t already have one, make sure you have a solid emergency fund before leaving your job. Typically, experts recommend having four to six months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund. These funds are to cover unexpected costs that might come up. Medical bills, car or home repairs, or anything else that might surprise you.

Having an emergency fund set up before leaving your job is essential.

Save Up and Invest

Once you decide you want to leave your job, it might still be a good idea to stick it out for longer. If your savings are already low, try to beef it up a bit before leaving your job. Of course, having an emergency fund is the first step, but you’ll need everyday living money as well.

If possible, invest heavily as well. For example, if you are looking to replace some of your income, find investments that will pay out dividends regularly.

Build Up Other Income Streams

If you’ve already been setting yourself up to retire or leave your job, make sure you pump up any other incomes streams you might have before taking the leap. For example, you may have a solid side hustle already going, have written an online book or course, or have other income streams. Anything that is already bringing in money could potentially bring in more money.

Put as much effort as possible into getting any and all income streams as high as possible to soften the blow of no longer pulling in an income from your 9-5 job.

Monetize a Hobby

There are a lot of hobbies that could make you some extra money. Take writing, for example, there are tons of ways to use that to make some cash. Photography, winemaking, wood crafting, and gardening are all examples of hobbies you could turn into income streams. If you haven’t thought about it already, now would be a good time to start.

Freelance

There are so many ways to find freelance work these days. Sites like Fiverr and UpWork will allow you to use any skills you use for your current job, but only when you want to. If you need extra money, pick up a few jobs on one of the sites. It could take a while to build up a solid reputation, but freelancing will give you more freedom to choose when you work and what projects you work on.

Retire if Possible

It’s possible that when you have the “I don’t want to work” feeling, you simply don’t have to work anymore. If you are in a situation where working simply isn’t a necessity anymore, and you don’t want to, then don’t! 

Nothing says retirement has to mean not working at all either. On the contrary, any of the options above are great for retirees, not just for earning extra money but also to fill up their days. 

Live Like You Don’t Have Your Income

No matter what path you choose, it’s a good idea to first take your new lifestyle on a test drive. Try doing the points made above and live without your current income. If you can do so effectively for a few months, then it’s likely safe to leave your job. If you find it to be a struggle, figure out how much money you need to earn to live and find a way to get it. 

Don’t leave your job until you are confident you can live without that income. 

What if You Can’t Quit?

Unfortunately, sometimes for those of us with the “I don’t want to work” feeling, quitting simply isn’t an option. There are too many bills to pay and not enough money without our income. If, for whatever reason, you are stuck in this kind of situation, there are some things you can try to help shake the feeling.  

Set Smaller Goals

There are likely many things you’d like changed about your job. Take a look and see if you can set smaller, achievable goals for yourself. You don’t have to love your job. Still, if you can find little victories in your everyday events, you’ll likely feel better about your situation.

Change What You Can Control

There are likely a lot of aspects of your job that are out of your control. You can’t change your boss or who you work with, but you can change your perspective on them. You can change how you conduct yourself and other aspects of performing your job. Even small changes in your outlook on people and your situation as a whole can have significant effects on your overall satisfaction. 

Find a way to make some of these small attitude or relationship adjustments and see if you can shake the “I don’t want to work” feeling. 

Find Satisfaction in Other Ways

Our work does not have to define who we are. In fact, for most of us, it doesn’t have anything to do with who we are. Instead, gain satisfaction from other accomplishments in your life. You might find yourself with a sense of accomplishment from your family, friends, hobbies, or other aspects of your life. You can use the satisfaction you get from other areas in life to compensate for the lack thereof in your professional life. 

Get Help

No matter who you are, getting help can be a great way to deal with the “I don’t want to work” feeling. Getting help might be as simple as venting to a friend or family member. Simply being able to get all the things that are bothering you off your chest can be a huge relief. You can’t tell your coworkers or boss what you really think of them, but you can certainly tell your spouse, parent, or children. 

Seeking professional help in the form of therapy can also be a significant way to deal with not wanting to work. Not only will you be able to 100% openly say everything you’re feeling, but professionals will be able to give you the tools you can use to most effectively deal with these feelings moving forward.

I Don’t Want to Work? Other Useful Tips

Here are some other helpful tips when dealing with the “I don’t want to work” feeling.

Leave Work at Work

Leaving work issues at work was difficult before the pandemic; now, it can be even more challenging since many of us work from home. One way to combat this is to have a dedicated workspace in your home. When you “leave” work, you don’t think about it until the next day. By having a separate workspace, you can better mentally “leave” work and have separation from your home life. 

Exercise

Exercise is a great way to get ourselves feeling good again. You’ll be able to get a sense of accomplishment, plus get some endorphins flowing too. Doing some moderate exercise for only 10-30 minutes a day can profoundly affect our outlook.

Have Other Things To Look Forward To

If you can’t get excited about anything at work, try to fill your days with other things to get excited about. Of course, most of us will look forward to the weekends, but try to have something to look forward to during the week. Social events, concerts, trips, and even just seeing friends can all be fun events to look forward to at all times. 

I Don’t Want to Work: Final Thoughts

You’re certainly not alone if you have the “I don’t want to work” feeling. At one point or another, all of us simply won’t be looking forward to going to work. There are a ton of reasons you might have the feeling too. If you want to start to fix the problem, you’ll first have to figure out why you have the “I don’t want to work” feeling. Once you do that, you can figure out a solution.

Whatever path you decide to take to fix the problem, make sure you are ready for any actions you might take. If you choose to leave your job or gain income in other ways, make sure to take your new lifestyle for a test drive first. 

When all else fails, try to make the best of a bad situation. For example, change your perspective on people or other aspects of work to try and make yourself feel better.