We all start our first days with our company all excited and filled with anticipation towards happy times with our new colleagues, new challenges and great career progression. Somewhere along the line, something happened, and things changed. All of a sudden, you start feeling unhappy at work and disgruntled with your company.
What went wrong? How can you pinpoint what is/are making you unhappy at work and how can you thrive in your career again?
Do you know the reason(s) why you don’t enjoy your work anymore?
There are many reasons why some of the general ones are below. Yours might not even be on this list
The pay is insufficient to support your living expenses. You are feeling stressed at work because you do so much yet you are not compensated enough.
You have not received a single increment or promotion over the last few years and you’re very demoralised at this stage.
You’re often talked down because you’re too young and inexperienced.
You lack recognition and support from your colleagues or superior and hence, lack the opportunity to move forward in your career, despite trying so hard.
Your job pays well but you feel you are staying only because of the money and some of your colleagues. You wish you could do something that you enjoy better instead of trudging past the 8 hours every working day.
You hate your environment. There is too much politics. You can’t find a good colleague to share your lunch time with and most of the others are locked within their own groups.
You feel unchallenged with the routine stuff, having little to do during office hours and countdown to 5pm every day
How do you know if you are feeling stuck at work?
You don’t put in your all at work. You give only the bare minimum effort and quality, and end up getting surpassed for promotion.
You wake up thinking “Not again” or “Why is it not weekend yet?” And you hit your snooze button multiple times. You tend to be late.
You jump at the chance to feel sick and take MC.
You smirk at every comment in meetings and feel everyone is a fake.
You avoid new assignments and have no interests at all.
You procrastinate doing your tasks until the very last minute.
How do you know if you are enjoying and loving your work?
You wake up feeling fresh and excited even after pulling long hours last night.
You answer every call from your office and clients.
You read emails and reply right away.
Someone tells you that you seldom take MC these days.
You are up for new challenges and say Yes to new projects.
You start early and try to engage with your team member and boss.
You deliver quality work.
You are willing to work overtime and even when you face tough situations, you will find a way to solve your problem.
But there is also a middle group of people who don’t like their job but accept the fact of life that their job pays and they have to live up to expectations so they do what they are assigned to.
When You’re Disgruntled At Work, It Affects Your Life Too.
Instead of finding a reason to blame, we’re going to identify the reason and take actions to regain our joy in our work again because when you are unhappy in your work where you spend 30% – 45% of your day doing, these negativities will almost definitely show up in your personal time and space as well.
Let’s review how does your typical day look like currently?
Are you often late for work, spend your day being unproductive at work, say no to whatever your boss ask you to do, count down to 5pm? And when you get home, you feel moody and defeated after an exhausting and unfulfilling day, so you skip your workout time to recharge on the sofa and tv, or resort to snacking to release your unhappiness. Feeling unappreciated and stressed, you end up complaining about work, feels that no one understands and end up quarrelling with your family members, and storm off feeling like nothing ever works for you!
Imagine how do you want your day to look like when you are no longer feeling stuck in your career rut?
Get Back to Being Happy At Work Again.
You will stay stuck in your career rut for as long as you allow yourself to unless you decide to change. Change can only happen to those who want to see a difference in their lives, right now. When you are feeling stuck and still not changing, chances are you are not uncomfortable enough to change.
Whatever you are feeling and experiencing in your job now, is still tolerable to you. Change only happens when you decide enough is enough.
In your career, there are two ways you can change.
Change your environment, or
Alter your mindset.
Change Your Environment, i.e. Your Workplace
A change in environment may do some good if you are leaving your highly political environment, bad cultural setting and demoralising co-workers because there’s not much you can do to improve the environment.
If your company is inflexible on timing and you feel stressed and tired from commuting, it might help to change your environment.
If you have unsupportive or incapable superiors, chances are you will not be able to progress much even if you choose to stay because you will get very little encouragement, support and opportunities to move forward.
Change Your Mindset – Find Ways To Enjoy Your Current Work.
Some people have no qualms about changing a new environment, but there are also some who hate to make major changes to their lives like changing a new employer. Here’s the thing, you can still find joy in your work without changing your environment.
Most times, we don’t hate all of our work altogether. We could be enjoying the work we do but feeling unhappy due to one or two factors. Identify these factors and see what you can do about them.
For instance, if you are unhappy about your lack of promotion or salary increment, look at how you are performing in this instance. Check with your superior on their feedback. Would you be happy about your performance if you were your boss? Ask yourself if you are giving your 100% in terms of effort, commitment and quality? Have you been able to communicate properly with your team?
Do you take accountability for your own work or does your boss have to keep pushing or reminding you? Are you independent and resourceful enough for the next role? What can you change about yourself to show that you are not only a great employee but also a committed one?
If you were passed for promotion before, ask for feedback from your superior.
Are you lacking in some factors or do you need more experience? If you find yourself always putting things off until the last minute, understand that rushed work seldom provide quality results. If you lack attention to details, slow down and give yourself more time to double check your work next time. Build on your experience by asking for more work or clients. Build on your progress with consistency. Deliver what you promise to do.
If your superior is a great person but lacks the time to check on you to appreciate your work, let them know. Tactfully remind them of the work you have done during informal conversations. You can take note of what projects you have taken up and completed, done well and praised by your clients. Then, present them to your superior in your appraisal.
If you are someone who thrives on challenges and new projects, ask for new assignments. If you feel unchallenged in your current role, consider switching to other departments if you have a chance.
If you don’t enjoy great relationships with your colleagues, make the effort to build up relationships with your co-workers. Even if you are not on good terms, at least choose to be professional and friendly. You don’t need love everyone at work to work together.
TIP: One of the greatest action you can take for your career is to set a time with your superior to regularly review your performance. That way, your boss will know what you are up to and you are always accountable for what you said you’ll do.
The worst thing you can do for yourself is to put off anything. Don’t wait for the perfect timing because there is none. The longer you wait to do something for your career, the longer it will take you to get to where you want to be.
Strengthening Your Mindset
Some of us dare not take the step forward because we’re afraid we’re not up for it. What if you go up to your superior and you get rejected? Well, at least you try.
If you want that next promotion, act and be like who you want to be next (e.g. supervisor, manager, director). Dress, think and act like one. When you are an employee, you have your manager or superior to fall back on. But when you are in a leadership position, you have to take responsibility for your team. When you come across a tough situation or problem in your project or client, what would you see yourself as a leader do?
Also, realise that you are not entitled to anything that your company offer. We are paid salary for the value of work that we deliver to our employer. In another word, they can be viewed as our clients. Would a happy client pay for the quality work that you deliver? Definitely.
Open up your mindset. Always be learning something new and always be challenging yourself to a new project. You will always be progressing when you learn.
Resolve to commit to providing quality work, maintain respectful relationships with your co-workers, and always be open to learning and new challenges and you will be the best talent and asset to any company.
To gain a clearer picture of your current career status and to set your career direction and goals, get your copy of the step-by-step pdf checklists to build your career path and level up here
Sometimes one small decision in the right direction can turn our lives around.
Checklist 1 – ‘Build Your Career Path’ Checklist will help you gain a clearer understanding of what you want to pursue in your career life, especially if you are just starting out in your career.
Checklist 2 – ‘Level Up Your Career’ will help you paint a clearer picture and be able to help you change your status quo in the next 6 to 12 months.