There will always be parts to our job that we love and others that we don’t love so much. No one loves every single aspect of their job all the time, even those who are in their dream job. Is there too much on your plate and too little time to do it? A lack of support from your boss or something else entirely? We spoke with Margie Warrell, master life coach and social commentator, as she offers advice and tips to help you find happiness within your job and how you can be happier at work.
Studies show that millions of people who go to work every day disliking their job and wishing they were elsewhere (according to Gallup organization, only 13% of people are actively engaged in their jobs.) So if you’re unhappy at work you’ve basically got three options:
a) Change what you do – whether a new role or a new career (yes, it will require trading the security of where you are now to step into an uncertain future. But seriously, aren’t you putting your happiness at risk staying where you are?)
b) Change how you do it – adopt a new mindset and cultivate new habits that allow you to put your best foot, face and attitude forward!
c) Change nothing, stay disillusioned, unhappy and be complicit in your own misery (not my recommended option)
1. Take responsibility: Never abdicate responsibility for feeling happy
The truth is, there is always a ‘way out’ of situations that leave you miserable if we’re willing to find it and do the work to make it happen. In the shorter term, there are always things we can do differently to get more enjoyment from our work, however mundane we find it. So if you don’t like your work, just know that whether it’s changing your job, your career, your attitude or your approach, there’s always something you can do. Always.
While it’s unrealistic to expect to always love what you do, it is realistic to genuinely enjoy your work (most days). In fact, given you spend a third of your adult life at work, it would be a shame not to enjoy it. To help you on your way, here are the top four reasons people dislike their job and what you can do about them.
2. Be bold: Nothing worthwhile happens in your comfort zone
Changing anything you want is going to take you doing something that is outside your comfort zone. So before you go any further, you need to decide that your short term comfort is less important than you long term success. Okay… have you decided? Good, keep reading.
3. Speak up: Courageous conversations are the currency of influence
So, you’re not happy about something… do people know that? If not, then you need to make sure they do. Not in a whiney complaining way, in a proactive positive way. Whether it is your boss that is doing something you wish they weren’t or a colleague, think about what it is you’d like them to do (or stop doing), why it will benefit them (not just you) to do it, and then enter in the conversation with the intention to create a better outcome for everyone.
4. Take initiative: Be part of the solution, not the problem
It’s easy to wish things were different — that your team did more ‘fun’ things, that your boss was more organized, that your colleagues were more thoughtful. But like the saying goes, hope is not a strategy. So decide what it is that YOU can do to create the kind of workplace you want to work in. Ask a couple of like-minded people if they are interested in a lunchtime meditation session and if you get any buy in, then take the initiative to get one started.
5. Ask big: You’ll never get more than you’re willing to ask for
I’ve lost count of the times people have told me how unhappy about an aspect of their job (the hours they work, money they earn, conditions etc) but, on asking them if they’ve made a request to improve it, have said no.
“They should just know,” they tell me. NEVER ever assume that people should just know what it is that you want, or don’t want. Never ever ever. If your best friend cannot read your mind then why on earth should your boss be able to?! Life only pays you as much as you have the courage to ask for, so if you’re not happy about what you’re getting, then you need to be bolder in asking for what you want.
6. Value your talents: Others will only value you fully when you do
There are things that you can do really really well that others can’t. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that there is no one on the planet who can do what you can do. That’s not to say that I can’t learn how you do your job and try to do it just as well, but I don’t have the same experience, passion, talent, or skill as you. Neither does the person you work beside. Neither does your boss. If you want others to value you fully, you need to begin by valuing yourself. If people haven’t been giving you the opportunities you want, then maybe it’s because they haven’t sensed you want them. When you doubt yourself, you diminish yourself. So starting today, never again underestimate the value you bring, or hold back from letting others know about it! It’s not just an act of self-service, it’s a public service! So stand tall in your own worth and firm in your own value… people will respect you all the more when you do.
6. Act big even when others don’t: All leadership begins with self-leadership
Let’s face it, sometimes you’ll have to deal with difficult people who are not only crap at knowing what’s on your mind, but who really don’t care what you think or want. They are too caught up in taking care of themselves, in feeding their own needy ego, to give a toss about pretty much anyone else… bar those who can help them climb higher and bake in the light. So be it. While you must never let bullies and narcissists step on you, be careful never to descend to their small petty and pathetic ways. Act as the leader you wish you had, as the co-worker you’d like to be, as the professional you know you are!
7. Stay passionate, no matter what: Dull your shine for no-one!
There is nothing sadder than someone who started out with big dreams and fire in their belly and ends up as cynical and resigned and resentful — a victim to the circumstances they have found themself in. The truth is that if dreams were easy to achieve, everyone would be out there pursuing them. I know that the gap between you and your biggest boldest dreams and aspirations is vast. How do I know this? Because the gap between me and mine are too. That’s how it rolls…. There’s always a gap. The challenge we all face, in our jobs , careers, businesses and lives – is staying on purpose, in action, and fully committed to our biggest dreams despite the setbacks, the disappointments, rejections, upsets, and serial crazies we have to encounter
Finding passion and purpose in your working life is your ‘mission critical’ for everything else that you do. So whether you currently feel like you are changing the world in the world that you do, or not, just know this… it’s not just what you do every day that matters, it’s how you do it.
If you find yourself in a job that doesn’t let you do what you do best and enjoy most, try to be creative in finding ways to do more of those activities, even if just in small bursts or brief times over the day or week. If it doesn’t hold a promise of future opportunity to progress into more rewarding work, you may be best placed to look for a new role (in your organization or outside it) or to pursue a new direction entirely.
Just never abdicate responsibility for your happiness to anyone else. You have one life to live and one unique and extraordinary set of talents, passion and aspirations to honor. Get to it.