Practical tips for the unhappy at work

Around this time each year there’s a spike in people starting to think about the all-important question. Should they consider changing jobs early in the New Year?

For many this is a straightforward situation and you have a clear career path to pursue. But for others it’s more a case of wanting to ‘run from’ rather than ‘run to’ because you are, to put it bluntly, unhappy at work.

It’s a confronting realisation to face the fact that you aren’t happy and it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of just waiting and hoping that something positive will happen. Sadly it rarely does.

Instead, the feeling of being overwhelmed increases and you don’t know what to do for the best. A candidate once described herself as feeling like the rabbit frozen in the headlights, not knowing which way to turn for fear of jumping out of one wrong job into another with the subsequent negative impact that could have on her career.

That decision-making paralysis often just needs a kick-start … and here it is. It’s deceptively simple but it gets to the heart of the matter and sometimes you just need a sequence to work through. This one has proved itself to be effective over the years.

A Quick Guide for the Unhappy at Work.

1. You may accept you aren’t happy at work but is changing that situation truly high up on your list of priorities?

If it isn’t then you need to re-evaluate what your priorities are. Being happy is important. Being happy and fulfilled at work is really, really important given the amount of time you spend there. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel fulfilled at work and everything right with it, as how you feel about work will spill into your personal life.

2. Allocate yourself some quality time to think.

It’s too easy to say you’ll think about this tomorrow or next week. If you do it’ll never get sorted so set aside some time. Plan it into your diary and whatever you do, don’t let anything get in the way of you taking that time out.

3. Try to analyse why you aren’t happy at work.

Make a list! And be honest, if you feel you don’t fit in to the culture or you aren’t adding any value, then face up to it. Or if you aren’t putting enough into the job then admit it. Or if you just hate the culture as it’s so out of sync with your own values then accept that’s the case. That way you’ll start creating a much better idea of what you need to thrive.

4. Next, think about what it is that you are you craving from your job that you aren’t getting now?

Put your thoughts down on paper. Out of that, come to terms with what it is you need to make you happy and fulfilled at work.

5. Can you find what you’re looking for where you are now?

Sometimes the answer is there in front of you but you can’t see the wood for the trees. Be creative in your thinking, talk with someone you trust. There may be other opportunities with your current employer that would work well for you.

6. Is it time to move employer?

Maybe it is and if that’s what’s going to get you sorted then that’s what you need to do. It’ll take time, effort and thought but if you’ve worked through the steps above then you should feel more confident about being on the right path.

7. Can you better balance your time for greater happiness?

If work can’t give you everything you need, can you achieve that missing fulfilment from something you do outside work if you could create the time? For example, if you left work twice a week at 5pm and did something you’ve always wanted to do, would that make a demonstrable difference to how you feel in your current job?

Much of the above requires honesty and self-awareness. Career re-evaluation isn’t the easiest road but the rewards can be great. We’ve seen people go from jobs where they have been totally dejected to seeing them 6 months later, happy and fulfilled because they are now placed in the right job, right environment and have their priorities sorted.