This is the second of a two-part series on job happiness. In last week's post, we took a look at the some of the warning signs that indicate you may be unhappy in your current position. This week, we will take a look at what to do if you find you are unhappy with your job.
One of the first warning signs we discussed is apathy. So, what should you do when you no longer care about the daily tasks or projects you are assigned, especially if it is a job you used to love? If you are in the apathy stage, now is the time to take a look at where you are and what you want out of a career or a position. You are older now than you were when you started this job and your interests and needs change over time. Take some time to think about what you are passionate about today, and what motivates you. From this vantage point, you will have a better understanding of what type of job or tasks will move you from apathy to enthusiasm. Then, you will want to see if you can adjust your responsibilities to focus on the things that do motivate you.
You will want to have a conversation with your boss or supervisor, but it is not enough to say you are unhappy. You will want to bring a solution and show how implementing that solution will lead to better productivity or efficiency. Remember, you cannot just dump tasks you do not like onto others. But you can see if focusing on some special projects that fit with your current passions might give you the motivation you are seeking, and help you get through those other tasks that you are no longer passionate about. It is important to be honest when talking with your boss, especially if you have developed a pattern of being late or absent, or procrastinating with tasks. If you have noticed these additional warning signs, it is a sure bet your boss has too. This is also true if you are having physical health issues (inability to sleep, headaches, muscle tension) or mental ones (frustration, irritability, depression). In fact, others might recognize these warnings signs and identify the cause before you do. And an important “other” is most likely your boss. Addressing them before your boss does, along with explaining why, gives you an opening for talking about your potential solutions. Someone who is motivated by the work they are doing, does not find reasons to avoid that work.
Another option for you is to consciously change how you see your job. Instead of seeing the drudgery of your daily tasks, set your mind to finding one opportunity each day to grow or learn. These do not have to be major growth opportunities, like learning a new software program. They could be something as simple as learning better patience or finding a productive method of dealing with frustration. Of course, major growth opportunities are good as well. You can look for continuing education classes that will help your career, or even online courses. Learn more about this in our post Will getting a certification help me land a job? Or you could look for classes or training that will help you enhance your soft skills.
Also, you are not your job. Who you are is not defined by your job tasks. If there is no way to modify your current position to better fulfill your needs and passions, look for something outside of work to satisfy that goal. Sometimes, a job is what you do so you can afford your hobby or life mission. When you have identified what you are passionate about and realize that your job cannot match it, you will probably be able to find an organization or group outside of work that will.
Lastly, it is important to remember that in accepting your current position, you made a commitment to perform your tasks and assignments to the best of your ability. Regardless of how you might be feeling about those tasks and assignments, you need to uphold your part of the bargain. Changing your mindset and how you look at the job will help you keep the promises you have made. This is a critical point because the other option you have is to leave the job that is making you so unhappy. However, you do not want to leave on bad terms and get a reference that says your dissatisfaction with your position led to attendance and performance problems. In addressing your mindset, just thinking about the reference or recommendation you want to have if you do leave could help you see your daily tasks in a new light, and even provide some enthusiasm for doing them well. If you do decide to leave your current job, you will want to be sure to do so without burning bridges. The idea that there is a light at the end of the tunnel (when you leave) can help you get through each day. When the conditions are just so bad that you must quit without yet having another job, consider temporary positions. You can also examine your finances to see what expenses you might be able to eliminate in order to accommodate the lack of income.
As we said in our post, Is the grass really greener? Things to consider before changing jobs, a job change takes time and patience, but it is well worth it to ensure you are not jumping at the first opportunity and leaping from the frying pan into the fire.
And if you really do want to change jobs (and maybe consider a temporary job with Supplemental Staffing) you may need to download this handy Pre-Interview Guide. We can help you rid yourself of any nerves before a big interview!