Not happy at work? When the drudgery of 9 to 5 starts to take hold, dragging you into the abyss of work-loathing, it often starts to reflect on your overall happiness. Hardly surprising when you consider just how much of our live's are dedicated to working...
We have 168 hours in a week. Take 56 away for sleep and we are left with 112 hours.
Now consider you spend on average 8 hours per day at work, with an average half-hour commute either side, if you are lucky. That is 45 hours in total.
This means you are working or getting to work for approximately 40% of your waking hours every week.
40% of your time doing something that you need to do to survive, something that at the moment doesn't bring you joy.
With that percentage, it is no surprise that if you aren't happy at work, other areas of your life will suffer.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
Credit: Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Is it my job or is it me?
There are plenty of reasons you might hate your job.
Incompetent boss, sheer boredom, feeling burnt-out, relentless additions to your to-do list, these are but a few valid reasons.
Maybe you can’t pinpoint the reason for your discontentment.
You just know this isn't the position for you, and the easiest option would be to quit.
I'm not the one to tell you to stick at a job you don't like, but how do you know the next job will be better and if this is a regular occurrence in your life, maybe it isn't the job... maybe it's you.
Based on our own experiences and conversations with customers, we’re learning that often it’s not the job that’s the problem, it is the person.
So let's stop to look within and find some clarity on why you’re unhappy at work and how you can fix it.
Take a step back, what changes can you make?
Is your lack of progress getting you down? Feeling unproductive can really take your self-confidence down a peg.
We face good and bad days and some days we operate like a dog chasing its tail.
Jumping from emails to phone calls while simultaneously attempting to meet deadlines.
Next thing you know, it's after 5pm and all you have achieved are several long email trails and yet another missed self-imposed deadline.
There’s a fine line between, “I have everything under control” and “I’m in way over my head.”
Let's drag you over the line to control...
- If you find yourself drowning in your to-do list, take a step back, clear your mind of stress, get it all out on paper and come up with a plan.
- Where do you spend your time? Break down your day into the jobs you like and the ones you’re less than thrilled about. Find how much of your time is spent on each. For instance, do you spend too much time on tactical work when your heart belongs in strategy?
- Is there a small part of your job that you dread and procrastinate on, taking you hours to complete instead of 30-minutes? You might be making things harder on yourself than you need to.
- Make time for important tasks that will improve your job, rather than getting bogged down with the urgent tasks that frequently overrun your day.
Consider finding ways to increase your productivity like using the pomodoro technique.
Recently we interviewed a new focus booster customer, Ekaterina who is an engineer, she said she decided to try focus booster because, "I was feeling very tired all the time. I wasn’t motivated." When we asked her how focus booster had helped her she said she has been able to improve her focused periods from 6 minutes to 45 minutes. "It has really helped to motivate me, having the ability to break things up makes it more manageable and I can find time to take breaks."
The surprising result for Ekaterina... "I don't hate my job anymore."
Credit: Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash
Set goals and get to work
We've all heard the saying, "good things come to those who work hard."
You don't care about your work for a number of underlying reasons, the largest being, maybe you feel you are undervalued.
But why do you deserve to be paid more?
Do you go above and beyond to prove your worth in your role or do you settle and do the minimum?
If your reason for going to work is to make more money, why not put yourself in the best position to actually make more money.
- Where do you see yourself in the near future? Having a vision of where you want to be will help you start to move forward.
- Figure out what exactly needs to be done to get there and in what order. Without proper goal setting, you'll squander your time away on a confusion of conflicting priorities.
- Make a list of your larger goals and break them into smaller more manageable ones, like collecting trophies along your way to the championship cup. Working in steady increments leads to lasting changes.
People often neglect goal setting due to the time and effort it can take. What they fail to consider is that the time and effort spent now saves the frustration in the future.
A strong sense of purpose fuels your motivation
Everyone hopes for the perfect job that will fulfil their dreams and provide a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.
Unfortunately, this isn't easy to achieve. It takes self-reflection, planning and hard work to get there.
Your efforts should be directed towards a job that will connect with your strengths, purpose and even challenge you.
Finding your WHY will stoke your motivation fire. It is the key to everything you do.
Nothing provides a level of fulfilment like having a distinct idea of where you are going. At some point in your life, you are going to have to stop thinking about action and finally act.
- Defining your end goal. The sooner you define it, the clearer everything else will become.
- What do you look forward to in life? Take a look at the things you have always dreamed of doing and the things you currently love to do.
- What makes you happy? Foster ways to bring these into your every day e.g. if you love writing but have fallen into a customer support role that isn't lighting your fire, take some of your customer's frequent problems and resolve them with creative support documents or a blog post.
- Being clear about what you want is a process of trial and error. Try, then ask, "Do I like this? Yes? No? Keep a journal and note down your feelings, thoughts, actions, and behaviours.
- Lastly, have patience. You can not force yourself to find your 'why' tomorrow or next week. Keep an open mind, search for clarity and move closer to the life you want.
Once you find your why, you will be more careful and selective about your daily actions.
Credit: Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash
Make use of your spare time
Find joy in your life by making the most of your time outside of work.
Sometimes the 'balance' in work/life balance is missing. Even outside of the office all you can think about is work or maybe you are so drained you can't think about anything after work. Well now is the time to reinvigorate yourself.
Happiness starts with you. It may seem cliche, but that is because it is true. You have the key to unlock joy but only you can operate it.
The easiest way to disconnect your brain from work is to get involved in a hobby that will force you to use other parts of your brain or the skills you possess.
Whether it's a sport, DIY project or joining a club of some sort.
Having a hobby that you are committed to will allow you to turn off, get inspired and hopefully that happiness will flow into your work too.
- Find the time to dedicate towards a hobby and consider, are you a morning or evening person? Do you like proactive weekends or do you prefer a weekend staycation? Organising your schedule will help determine when you can prioritise a hobby.
- What do you like? It is important to find something that you are legitimately interested in, in order to help you maintain your dedication towards it.
- Do you prefer to fly solo or maybe see yourself better suited in a group situation? Someone to motivate you, or just have like-minded people to chat with. Say you decided to give lawn bowls a go, but the actual bowls weren't what kept you coming back, it was the activity paired with good banter and new friendships.
- It takes 21 days to form a new habit, so don't throw in the towel. Allow time to make this new hobby a habit and understand that this is not wasted time.
By taking on this new outlet, you are stepping away from work and into a hobby that empowers you, giving you a fresh perspective for when you are at work.
Remember, you have a choice in all of this.
The internet swarms with inspirational stories of others catching their big break in the job they love, other posts cover the reasons you may hate your job, but neither provide any real solution.
We are all hard-wired differently. Some people are content with working the 9 to 5 but there are others like us who wonder, "is this really it?"
Yep, I've been in your shoes.
I did what every normal millennial would do. Leave high school, jump into a year or two of study before locking in a corporate job.
5 years later and only 26 years old, I was depressed, sucked into the vortex called the daily grind.
Some days I hid in the toilet for a moment of peace.
Then reality hit me like a soccer ball to the face and I decided to change things. There wasn’t a pivotal moment that I can recall. I just started to care less about what everyone else thought and more about who I wanted to become. You can read more about the steps I took to find my why in a previous post.
I want you to remember a few things;
- Next time your boss gets on your nerves, consider that you have chosen to work for them. You have chosen to see your job as a drag rather than seeking out the challenges.
- Those nights when you come home, crack a beer and slump in the couch, you could be doing something productive that will make you feel good, even better than that beer, so get doing.
- Other people have been here and eventually discovered that change was needed. They took responsibility and made it happen.
- Everything happens for a reason, you are supposed to be here right now because it will give you the tools you need for the next challenge. Use this time wisely.
- Make a difference in your life. Life isn't perfect and it never will be, so don't wait for the perfect job to become your perfect person, turn your job into something that creates joy in your life.
You have the power to do this, just remember the key to all of this is you.
If this post lit a fire under your butt to make a few changes, be sure to share this with anyone who you know might be struggling with their job or even lacking the motivation to find their purpose in life.