There are few experiences as miserable as being unhappy at work. When you're in this situation, the anxiety, stress and pressure can make you less productive, less motivated and it even spills over into the other parts of your life. After all, when you spend 8 hours or more a day somewhere that you hate, after you leave, you probably aren't going to feel like doing anything happy. It's more likely that you'll want to put your head under the covers and try to forget your misery. Plus, working under pressure is exhausting - leaving you without much energy left for more pleasant activities.
If you're unhappy at work, there are some things that you can do to be happier - without having to change your job. Often, what happens is that bosses and employees lose their focus and their motivation. When that happens, morale gets low and negativity works its way in. From there, things go from kind of bad to really bad and down the slippery slope to awful. All you can do then is stop, take a deep breath and make some changes.
I was reading a helpful article from Forbes about asking for a raise, and I started thinking about how you can make yourself happier at work. Here's my list of five things that you can do to make yourself happier:
- Stop looking for someone or something to blame. Sometimes, things go wrong and it's not your fault. Maybe your co-worker let you down, your boss didn't give you enough instructions or you didn't have enough time to get everything done. It happens. However, spending time blaming people for your problems isn't going to make a difference, and it certainly isn't going to make you happier. Instead, look at what you could have done that would have lessened the situation and then take responsibility. When you take responsibility, you free up your mind to work on the problem or move on to the next task, rather than fuming about whose fault it is.
- Stop clinging to the way things have always been done. It's human nature to be fearful of change. To make matters worse, we tend to idealize the past and forget about the day to day frustrations and challenges. A good example of this is how adults persist in telling teenagers that the high school experience is supposed to be "the time of their lives" even when they can remember being miserable in school. In the workplace, we tend to cling to the way thing have always been done instead of looking for ways to be more productive.
- Stop interrupting instead of listening with intent. When listening to others, whether it's a customer with a problem or a co-worker discussing a problem with a project, it's important to actually listen and try to understand what they are saying. Don't interrupt to defend yourself, cast blame or make negative comments. Instead, try to process what they are saying and ask questions in order to get a clearer picture. Being a good listener makes you more effective and people will love you for it.
- Stop clinging to the idea of control. We all want to feel that we are in control, but most of the time, we aren't. If you have a boss, they may not even be the ones who make the decisions. In order to stop this behavior, we have to accept that the only thing we have control over is ourselves and how we decide to react to situations.
- Stop criticizing. Complaining and criticizing customers or co-workers is a waste of time and only spreads negativity. I've worked at several places where it was customary for employees to spend a lot of time gossiping about their co-workers and complaining about how badly they do their job. This sort of negative talk can be extremely hurtful and actually makes you more unhappy. Instead, try talking about the good things that people are doing. Oh, and that co-worker that everyone gossips about the most? Try giving them encouragement when they are doing things right. Sometimes all they need is some positive feedback.
There are times when, in spite of your best efforts, you can't find a way to be happy at your job. In those instances, it's better to cut your losses and find a job that's right for you. However, before you decide, try these tips and see if they help you fall back in love with your job.
Have you ever made these mistakes or worked at a place that made you miserable? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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