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What to do When You Just Don’t Care: 5 Ways to Fight Apathy

Apathy. As a grad student I know this well. Writing a paper the night before? Check. Figuring out the exact lowest score I have to get on a test in order to keep my grade intact? Check. Infuriating professors and mentors alike because of “potential” that never seems to be tapped? Check.

What an unsuspecting villain. It seeps into your life and next thing you know, you’re finding it difficult to wake up for those early morning meetings. You dread the scheduled appointments and highlight the days on your calendar when you don’t have to appear. Your dream job has turned into bureaucratic nightmare; you go through the motions but the passion is gone. What was once so thrilling now leaves glassy-eyed and looking for a way out. Where did the engagement go?

We’ve all experienced this to one degree or another. Whether it started with frustration, disillusion or weariness, you’ve been to a place (or might be there now) where you just can’t seem to find a reason to continue. You just don’t care. The question is— how do you shake the slump?

  1. Reflect

How did we get here anyway? The first step in fighting apathy is discovering what has made you apathetic in the first place. Frustrated by misguided expectations? Worn down by the constant strains on your time and energy? Feeling unaccomplished in what you set out to do? Take the time to sit down and reflect on why it is exactly you’re feeling this way. There is a good possibility that the problem doesn’t have to do with the job your apathetic about at all- the apathy may be coming from another place entirely. What are your relationships like? How have you changed since when you started? What else are you committing to that you’re not apathetic about?

  1. Repent

Your work is not your own. If you’re going about your career for personal gain or glory, then there is a solid chance you will begin to not care once you get a taste of success. You accomplished the task! Now what? Apathy ends where repentance begins. We’ve taken our (work, volunteering, education, ________) and made it all about ourselves. Don’t believe the lie. In actuality, the work you do isn’t just about you—you’re supposed to be giving Glory to God through it. Pray for God to grant you a changed mindset.

  1. Rejoice

When I was a sophomore in college, I tried to make a list at the end of every day of all the things I was thankful for. I failed miserably at it (we’re talking like, 3 days completion max), but I sure did realize how much I had to praise God for. Oftentimes, we let pessimistic attitudes, cynicism and sarcasm bring us to the point of apathy. We can no longer see the thing we once cared about, and instead can only seem to focus on all the negative aspects. Take time and make a list of all the relationships, experiences, and lessons you’ve gotten to have. Rejoice that the source of your apathy has in the past has probably given to you more than you could ever give to it.

  1. 4. Renew

Take a step-back. Ask your supervisor, boss, friend, commitment, etc. that you need a few days/weeks to have for rejuvenation. Take the time to breathe. Do what you enjoy. Don’t do ___________ at all. Forward the emails elsewhere. Sometimes we just need a little time to reboot. You very well may find that you are missing whatever it was you were apathetic about by the time your short vacation is coming to an end.

  1. 5. Revise

You’ve gone through 1-4 and you find yourself still feeling highly apathetic. Numbers 1-4 were internal—now look externally. What is it that you are doing? Has the situation around it changed? Have your views on it changed? Maybe it is highly ineffective. Maybe it is a waste of time. Spoiler alert, some things are not worth your time and energy. Revise what it is you are doing. Change the mission statement, or at least the way you are carrying it out. Although it’s obviously possible, it’s pretty hard to feel apathetic about something that is highly effective.

James Harris

James is probably the 3rd or 4th funniest guy you know. Funny enough to invite to a party; not witty enough to talk about later. Co-Founder and Content Editor of Everyday Exiles, Director of College Ministry at Reynolda Church, EPC, and husband to Meredith. He has a dog named Calvin, a cat named Opie, and a robot vacuum named Alfred.

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