One of Apple’s founders, Steve Jobs, said: “the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” While some people are lucky enough to find the work they love, many individuals aren’t as fortunate. They either know they hate their jobs right away or eventually grow disillusioned with their positions or organizations.
If you’re constantly thinking my job is making me miserable, you’re not alone. According to survey-based research, 50% of workers dislike their jobs. The top reasons you might want to call it quits are not being paid what you’re worth, a lack of communication, and being overlooked or feeling unappreciated. But before you throw in the towel and seek greener pastures, there might be some things you can do.
Below are seven things you can do immediately to improve your situation. And it starts with getting to the root cause of your unhappiness.
1. Why My Job Is Making Me Miserable
There could be several reasons you’re unhappy at work. Some of them have nothing to do with the job itself or the company you work for. Conditions like anxiety and depression can lead to poor concentration, fatigue, and general feelings of displeasure.
You might actually like your job and believe in your organization’s mission. But left untreated, health conditions that influence your moods, perspectives, and behaviors can impact your work. You might also be going through something traumatic or upsetting in your personal life.
Unfortunately, things like this influence how you see others and your enthusiasm for professional interests. Take the time to get to the bottom of your feelings and perceptions. If you determine you’re truly unhappy with the job or company, you can move to the next step.
2. Determine What You Want Out of Work
Once you figure out why my job is making me miserable, turn your answer around. Doing so will reveal what you need or want from a job. Maybe you’re unhappy because you’re not advancing in your career.
Your boss doesn’t seem to be noticing your extra efforts, or you feel like your position is a dead end. Now you’ve determined you want upward mobility. But you may need to refine that desire.
In other words, what does upward mobility look like to you? Perhaps that means a promotion after three years. Or the opportunity to transfer to another department and learn new skills.
If upward mobility isn’t on your must-have list, maybe you want a collaborative culture and recognition for a job well done. Some org cultures are more competitive and can become draining or toxic for certain personalities. Other times, it’s a problem with the department’s subculture or the manager’s leadership style.
3. See If You Can Adjust Your Schedule
About 60% of those who can do their jobs from home want to keep it that way. They want to work 100% remotely or have a hybrid schedule. These schedules mean employees are in the office a few days a week.
The rest of the time, they’re working from home or another location. If your commute is too long or draining, try asking your boss for a different arrangement. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and employers are more willing to be flexible than lose a good employee.
You might also benefit from a remote or hybrid work arrangement if it’s difficult to work in the office full-time. You could be someone who concentrates better without co-workers’ distractions. Or maybe you find it easier to juggle personal and professional responsibilities by working remotely.
4. Apply for an Internal Transfer
Instead of saying I’m going to quit because my job is making me miserable, pursue your internal options first. Find out if there are other open positions with your company that interest you. If so, speak to your manager about the possibility.
You can approach your boss by stating you’d like to pursue other career interests. Let them know you’ve enjoyed or appreciated your time with the department. However, you feel you’ve outgrown your current position and want to keep growing with the company.
But if you don’t feel comfortable speaking with your boss, you can simply apply. That is if your organization doesn’t require sign-off from your current supervisor. Talk with your HR department or look in your employee manual before you put in your application.
5. Ask for Stretch Assignments
You could be unhappy with your job because you’re bored. You’ve mastered the basics and need something more challenging to inspire you. Approach your supervisor and see if there are other projects or work you can handle.
While your title and pay may not change immediately, taking on stretch assignments can prepare you for a promotion. Companies and leaders usually want to keep investing in the people they have. If you’ve got skills and knowledge that can benefit the business, why not use them?
However, there is a caveat to this approach. Make sure you’re not being taken advantage of. You want this extra work and skill development to eventually pay off.
After all, Warren Buffett said, “the difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” Setting boundaries is important so you don’t develop resentment. And you want to be strategic about when you go above and beyond.
6. Research What the Experts Say About Why My Job Is Making Me Miserable
Fortunately, there are many books written by management consultants and experts about employee engagement and turnover. Books on Amazon like “The Truth About Employee Engagement” and “The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave” can help. You’ll realize your perceptions and feelings are valid and backed by research.
While these books can’t make your decisions for you, they can provide insight and guidance. Some of them contain other workers’ thoughts and feelings about the impact of work environments and leadership styles. You might see yourself in some of the statements and the experts’ conclusions.
After reading these books or even articles, you might get a better sense of what you need to do. Maybe you do need to have a talk with your boss. Or put your name in for a promotion or leadership role.
7. Search for New Opportunities
Sometimes you just know that there’s nothing your company or boss can do to make you stay. You’ve been through too much with a bad boss and it’s too late. Maybe there aren’t any open internal positions or career tracks you see yourself pursuing.
There’s also the possibility your organization can’t give you what you need. That could be more pay, a remote work schedule, or professional development and training. If there’s truly nothing that can be done, it’s time to get your resume in shape.
But before you start applying or networking, outline what you want in your next job. Include a description of your ideal culture and supervisor. You don’t want to jump from one sinking ship to another. Be sure to diligently research companies on sites like Glassdoor and ask hiring managers questions during interviews.
Get a sense of whether they enjoy working for the business and why. Take note of how people treat you during the recruiting and interviewing process. Do they string you along or rush you to make a decision?
Red flags like these can help you avoid bad employers and jobs that are a poor fit.
When It’s Time to Do Something About Your Misery
Ignoring your negative feelings about your job isn’t healthy and can backfire. You could start slacking off or lowering your work performance. This could lead to problems like being put on a performance improvement plan or termination.
It’s better to acknowledge why my job is making me miserable. Start with an analysis of your feelings and the sources. Are you generally unhappy or are there things going on in your personal life that could be taxing or challenging?
Conditions, such as depression or a sleeping disorder, could also be the source of your misery. The effects of physical exhaustion and mental illness can spill over into your work. Seeking help with these conditions and circumstances can eventually correct any unhappiness at work.
But if the source of your irritation is your job, it’s also time to take action. Start with the gaps that exist between your needs and your position and work environment. Try to reach a compromise with your existing boss and organization.
However, if those attempts fall short of your goals, you shouldn’t settle for less than what you want or you’re worth.
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