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Woman frustrated with and not happy at work

Stay Happy at Work When Things aren’t Right

We all spend way too much time at the workplace to not be happy at work. We also have more professional options available to us than any generation has ever had.

Unquestionably, your parents, grandparents, and more distant ancestors had less choice in how they earned a living, particularly if they were women, under-represented minorities, or citizens of developing nations.

That doesn’t mean you should just feel good that you’re living in the modern era and satisfied with whatever job you have. It does mean that you should get clear on what you want in a work environment and seek out a career path that is aligned with that. 

How to Be Happy at Work

Seek Guidance

If you’re not clear on what you want to do, seek guidance from those you trust, such as family, friends, or mentors. As needed, there are also myriad assessments and career coaches available to help you, from PathWise and many others. To be clear, it’s almost impossible to be in a good place professionally if you don’t know yourself – your values, interests, strengths, and personality type. Focus on that first.

Find What’s Missing

If you are clear on what you want to do but your work situation isn’t aligned, dig into what’s missing. Is it the company culture, the job content, the advancement potential, your manager, your colleagues, something else? Again, talk it through with those around you. You can also use our PathWise Location Check survey to evaluate your current situation in a structured way.

Build Your Work Culture

Bear in mind that very few of us are fortunate enough to have our “dream career” or even a “dream job.” You should be pragmatic, as every job includes good days and bad days, and every situation is going to have its pros and cons. The grass won’t necessarily be greener somewhere else.

You should certainly consider what it would take to better align your current job with your ideal work life balance and talk to your boss, friends at work, or with someone in your employer’s HR group to make those changes.

Get started internally. Focus on the things that you can control and the things that you can change. Rather than worrying about the things that are outside of your control, focus on finding ways to make your job more enjoyable and meaningful. You can do this by identifying areas in which you can make a difference, setting goals that you can meet, and taking responsibility for your own happiness.

It is also important to recognize that you are not alone and that many of your colleagues may be feeling the same way. Foster an atmosphere in which you can openly talk about your feelings and experiences and share strategies for finding workplace happiness. Finally, spend time focusing on the positive and give yourself credit for the work you are doing, no matter how small the task. 

Feel Happier at Work

Some of the changes you’re seeking may be feasible in the near term, while others will require some patience. But if your current job is never going to align with your professional interests, you should be actively evaluating other options, whether with your current employer or elsewhere. Don’t just suffer in silence, because if you’re not feeling happy at work, it will invariably negatively affect your personal life. It could have a modest effect or a more significant one.

As just a few examples, work-related stress or dissatisfaction can be a major cause of mental health issues and relationship conflicts. Take ownership, get the help you need from family, friends, or career professionals, develop a plan, and get to it. Best of luck to you!

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