happiness at work

Are You Unhappy at Work? You'll Want to Read This...

People inherently want to contribute to something greater —not just quarterly goals. You want to know that your efforts in the office will help the company grow and create innovative products. You want to know that you are a piece of something bigger —an idea. You’re unhappy, and you feel like a pawn on someone else's board, with no feeling of satisfaction in your daily role.

If this is true, are you ready to adapt however and wherever needed and accept the consequences? Are you prepared to take control over your happiness at work?

Take the time to consider your role. You’re subject to the quarterly goals and billable hours that your managers demand of you. You feel the need to meet their bottom line, otherwise your job is in jeopardy.

Eventually, your passion for the content and type of your work disappears. You feel disassociated with your professional life. Before you know it, this unhappiness and lack of fulfillment carries over to your personal life. You react to loved ones with anger or isolation while dealing with work pressures. You dread the repetition of an unchangeable life each morning.

Can you release your emotional investment in this job for happiness elsewhere? Will you sacrifice many years of law school or graduate school and loans for a more gratifying job or position? Will you accept a job that pays less? Will you sacrifice possessions for pure happiness?

Most of you will say no and stay in your current job. Is this driven by the fears or insecurities that we discussed earlier? Possibly. But you may have other reasons: you don’t want to sacrifice your income for possessions that you love, or you must take care of your family.

Have you ever looked at other options? Have you ever stepped out of your boundaries and pursued something out of the familiar? Have you ever taken a chance?

Let’s accept that finding a new job or starting a new career is difficult. Can you find new satisfaction with the work instead? If you are a manager, you may be able to restructure your department to create a more positive and fulfilling atmosphere. In fact, you may have the power to redefine your position in a way that keeps you productive while keeping you in line with the responsibilities you enjoy the most.

If you’re not a manager, you probably can't change the company structure around you —only yourself. The first step is realizing this and reexamining your current position. You may realize that the traditional business culture and mindset is the cause of your unhappiness.

For example, your managers may be steering you away from creative or extraordinary thinking, enticing you with bonuses and other carrot-and-stick rewards in order to meet the bottom line goals. As a result, you lose focus on the "now" while trying to meet the demands of someone else. You also lose focus on your own needs while you fulfill your manager's requirements. It's a pattern of living that you might accept despite your unhappiness.

It’s not your fault. Our education system is partly responsible for these patterns. Teachers valued end results over effort and creativity. They constantly pushed you toward a particular goal without the opportunity for individuality and ownership. Your teachers encouraged "standardized thinking": a single/non-creative thought process fostered and structured by someone else.

If you can’t leave your job, how will you change this? How will you take control over your position and reshape it in a way that brings fulfillment to you? Should you reevaluate your role in the company? Is it time to change or redefine your position so that it fosters autonomy? Is it time to request a position that values your creativity and judgment? At what point do you take responsibility for your contributions to work?

I followed this advice for several years while dancing through jobs as a restaurant server, cook, and teacher. Redefining your job status isn’t easy. I was constantly redefining my position in someone else’s company, and I never felt fulfilled. I was meeting someone else’s quota and knew I could’ve done more in that position. Ironically, when I asked to “do more”, managers always encouraged me to step back. They wanted to maintain the “status quo.”

I aggressively pursued careers related to my degrees (psychology, sociology, and social science secondary education), but I felt like something was missing. I shook up the pieces of my life again and finally found the combination that worked for me at the age of 26 (while most of my friends started their careers around 21/22). I was eager and ambitious to find and shape the best life for me. I could’ve settled for the positions related to my degrees, but I didn’t. I wanted something better and wouldn’t give up fighting for it.

I began a business during my last three months of waiting tables and substitute teaching. By the end of that period, my personal training business was my only focus. Over nine years later, I still own my business and feel fortunate to have had the UNBELIEVABLE support of my personal training clients. They gave me the option to have the perfect job for me, and I’m forever indebted.

Although my job wouldn’t exist without their support, I couldn’t have done this unless I BELIEVED I could do it and made the decision to take control over my situation and make it happen.

I’m not asking you to quit your job and start a business. It isn’t for everyone. I’m asking you to take the pieces in your hand (life) and shake them up. If you fail in your first pursuit, shake again and again and again until you find your it. I want you to want something better, and never give up fighting for it. Take control over your career now and shape your position into a fulfilling one.

Reflection Section:

1.) Awareness: Do you feel a sense of fulfillment in your professional role? What contributes to this feeling and do you believe that you have the control to change it? Why or why not?

2.) Acceptance: Are you willing to accept that your professional life isn’t perfect right now, but that you have the power to modify the situation or change your perspective?

3.) Adaptation: What new strategies can you possibly utilize to take control over your professional life? How can you shape a fulfilling professional position?

Article Credit:
Are You Unhappy at Work? You'll Want to Read This...
Stress management and happiness at work.