Nowadays it's common for people to switch jobs, even careers every few years. As a result people adopt the mindset of if you're unhappy at work an easy solution is to look for a new job, be happy in a new place and everything will be fine and dandy.
But what if the grass isn't always greener on the other side? What if you are letting go of a great job because of problems that turn out to be trivial. What if the problems can be solved internally without looking for a new job ?
Here are a few things to ask yourself before jumping the gun:
- Do I feel low all day or just parts of my day?
- Do I have friends at work I can talk to confidentially?
- Do I feel frustrated with my daily tasks?
- Am I feeling distracted at work with no real focus?
If the answers to these questions are yes - you might be in luck:
Here are a few potential solutions that you could try:
This one seems too simple to be true. But this small action really helped me when I was feeling unhappy in one of my jobs. It was a chance to get new people around me and to get a new perspective which encouraged me to take a fresh attitude.
Note when and where you are most productive
Being productive and knowing you are contributing to your team and overall organisation can make you feel a lot happier at work. This means being self aware of when you are at your best. If you're a morning person don't check your emails and catch up with colleagues first thing, leave that to when you are less alert. Use your morning to get some solid work done. Everyone works differently so it's effective to be conscious of what works best for you. Using the hours you are less productive in to do tasks that need to be done but might not require the most brain power. A great read on productivity and getting the most of your day is the book "4 Hour Work Week" by Tim Ferris.
Collaborate with a new team
If you find yourself working on the same projects week after week, speak to your manager and see if there is any scope for you to work on any side projects for half a day a week. This will help you develop in other areas, talk to new people and hopefully give you a new burst of energy. Exploring side projects may also help with projects within your main role too.
Question and push back on unwanted tasks
Sometimes we fall into the trap of not questioning why we are doing something and accepting that it has "always been done that way." But if you are having doubts, question it. Are these unwanted tasks still necessary? Could they be delegated to different people? Could they be automated in some way ?
Talk to someone you can trust
You can often feel lonely at work and feel like you are the only one feeling lost. If you are lucky to have someone at work you can trust - use them! It will surprise you how many people could be in the same boat as you. It also gives you a fresh perspective on your situation, and provides you new ways of tackling it. I would always try and talk outside the office if you can, even better go for a walk outside with them. You will be able to speak more openly and don't have to worry about wondering ears in the office.
When it is time to think about leaving your job:
When your passion isn't in it anymore
They say to do your best work you must love the work you do. A lack of passion for your work leads to a downward spiral of lack of focus, boredom and lack of fulfillment.
When the location doesn't feel right
I was told when I looking for my first job outside university, try and aim for 2 out of 3 of these things : a great role, a great company and a great location. But on reflection, location and the company are the ones I think you should be aiming for. (Once you are hired in the company you can always try moving around.) If your job is in a location that doesn't feel right to you, or is a place you avoid exploring at the weekend - I don't think you should have to comprise on that. Don't make your job your life, also think of your life outside work and find what you can do with your evenings and weekends.
When you do not agree with the company's values
If you don't agree with how your company is treating it's customers or employees and this is playing on your conscious, it might be time to consider a move. You are simply never going to produce your best work for a company you don't respect.
Everyone deserves to be happy in their workplace, after all for most of us it is where we spend the majority of our time. I hope this post will help you assess if your unhappiness can be solved by you or if it is something that requires bigger actions. A major thing I have learned over the past 2 years, is no matter how awesome the company is you work for, no matter how great your role is, its never going to be plain sailing all the time - and that's okay! Tough times at work give you an opportunity to grow, learn and you will be able to handle difficult situations in the future more easily! On the other hand if the unhappiness persists don't settle, go out and explore what other opportunities are out there for you.