How happy are you in your work? Do you love what you do or is it simply a means to an end? Most of us will spend more time at work that anywhere else, so you would think that finding happiness at work is an important factor to living an all-round happy life. However many of us are also dissatisfied or unhappy at work which can have a big negative impact on other areas of our lives.
Why am I feeling dissatisfied?
There are many reasons you might be feeling dissatisfied at work, including:
- Fear of failure may lead us to play safe, leading to boredom and a lack of personal growth.
- Over time, our work goals and our life goals may start to conflict rather than support one another.
- We may become detached from the task, or may dislike or resent it.
- We may continue in a profession because we are good at what we do, and it is comfortable, rather than because we feel joy in our work.
- If we lose status or are made redundant, we lose our sense of self, because so much has been invested in the role. It can take years to build up confidence and self-esteem once again.
- Many people under pressure at work feel that they need to carry the weight upon their shoulders and do everything themselves. They feel they can’t ask for help. They overlook the fact that asking for help is a strength, and that the greatest successes are achieved as a team.
Rather than investing in an outcome over which you cannot possibly have full control, the secret of happiness is to focus instead on the process of achievement, recognizing that each step is an achievement in its own right, and each marks progress on the way to reaching your ultimate goal. The key to getting a better job is first to focus on the one you have and to do it to the best of your ability.
How can I find happiness at work?
The pathway to finding happiness at work begins in the mind. Try this exercise both to change your mindset and discover what kind of work would make you happier.
Before you go to sleep each night, find something positive to say or think about going to work in the morning and write it down. It doesn’t matter how large or small that thing is. It need have nothing to do with the work itself; you might enjoy the journey to work, bantering with colleagues or being paid at the end of the month. Whatever it is, write it down.
When you wake up the following day, pay attention to how you feel about going to work. Is your first thought positive or negative? If it is positive, write it down. If it is negative, read the positive thought you had last night and think again. Can you swap your positive for a negative? Write that down. Even extreme negatives can be reframed into positives. Instead of “I hate my job,” try thinking, “Knowing how unhappy I am in my work shows me that I would be better suited to work that is …” (Only you can fill in the gap.)
Think about each task that you have to complete during each day and focus on how good it feels to complete each one. Acknowledge to yourself how well you have done and consider how you could do it even better next time.
If you keep this up over the period of a month, three things will happen. First, you will have a list of things that make you feel happy and positive about your job that you will have repeated every day; second, you will notice more things about your work that you enjoy, which will make you feel happier at work, and will make others react more positively toward you. Thirdly, if you are still unhappy, you will know much more about what kind of work would suit you better.
For more ways to be happy, check out A Year of Living Happily by Lois Blyth.