Most people feel a little grumpy at work on Monday mornings, but if your irritation lasts throughout the week, it’s time to make a change. Before you send in your resignation letter, however, check out these tips to see if job satisfaction and happiness can be a regular part of your workday.
Paint a clear picture of your current work situation
First, break down why you’re unhappy at your job and what you can do to change the situation. “Don’t quit your job until you’ve done everything you can to improve it,” says Lauren Milligan, job-search coach and résumé writer at ResuMAYDAY. “If you’re working in a job you hate, often it’s easier to change certain aspects of the job, or add elements to the job that you’ll love, rather than trying to find a new job…especially in this job market.”
“The problem with just bailing on a job without trying to improve it is that the next job might not be any better,” Milligan adds. “First of all, you have to figure out what it is you actually dislike. Is it an objective function of the job — the actual job tasks that you were hired to do, or is it a more subjective part of the job, such as the long commute, the co-workers, your boss, the slow computers that always crash or something else that has a negative impact on how you feel about the job? It can be one of these, or a variety, but you first have to identify the problem.”
If you’re having trouble pinpointing where your unhappiness stems from, it might help to ask what role you play in the situation. After all, if there is an issue on your part, you don’t want to bring it to the new job or let it continue in your current role.
Alanna Levenson, certified career and business coach and founder of I Love My Life Coaching!, says, “What a worker can do to help them make a decision [whether] to stay or go is to ask themselves a few simple questions, such as: ‘What attracted me to this company/position in the first place?’ ‘What is it that I’m running away from, or is it that I’m trying to go toward a better career choice?’ ‘Assuming that I haven’t done everything to improve my current situation, what else can I do?’”
“Sometimes I find that people are avoiding having a conversation with an influential person that can change their situation but they don’t out of fear,” Levenson continues. “I then want to know what it is that they are really afraid of.”
Take action and make changes
“Next, figure out which of things that you’ve identified are fixable or able to be changed,” Milligan says. “Each of them will have different solutions. If it’s a long commute, do things that make your commute more bearable, such as listening to audio books or possibly carpooling. If it’s a detested co-worker, focus on making friends with other people. If it’s the work you despise, figure out what things you love to do, and see if there are cross-training opportunities in a different department. If you love to write, see if the company needs someone to put together articles for the company newsletter. If you’re really into working out in your off hours, put together a wellness committee for the company that gets people to walk during their lunch hour and discuss fitness and weight-loss tactics. If you love classic cars, organize an outing to a car show over the weekend.”
Milligan says that if you bring more of the things you love into your workplace, you’ll ultimately be happier at work. “Now more than ever, managers and business owners see the value in happy, sociable employees.”
If it’s time to go, find somewhere good to go to
If you’ve made an effort to change but you’re still miserable, you can move on with peace of mind. That starts with taking what you’ve figured out and applying it to your job search. “Determining what factors are important to you in your next workplace or role can be fun,” Levenson says. “An exercise I have personally used and encourage my clients to use is to ‘Create Your Ideal Job.’ Create a list of all of your desirables and don’t censor yourself. Even if you start to hear that voice in your head that says, ‘You can’t have that,’ you never know.”
“Get specific about all of the things that are important to you that you want to have in your next job,” Levenson adds. “Here are a few ideas: the company reputation, your office space, the people in it, the benefits, location, commute, desired salary, the resources you’ll have to use, the training program, management styles, growth opportunities, hours and company culture.”