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Unhappy at work

Whatever your reasons are for being unhappy at work, it’s best to tackle them straight on. Of course you don’t want to make a rash decision, but letting things simmer won’t do you any good either.

Here’s a 5-step approach to relieving unhappiness in the workplace:

Determine if you’re in a slump that will pass or if you’re truly in a situation that must come to an end

Slumps come and go, we all experience them, even in the best of work situations. You have to take into account how long you’ve been feeling this way and if you can identify what triggered the feeling. Next, ask yourself if this is something you can realistically pull yourself out of? If the answer is yes, or you’re not sure, take some time to see what happens and try not to dwell on the feeling. If after two weeks, you’re still not feeling like your motivated self, start to explore the other possibilities. Whether it’s for personal reasons, like feeling disconnected from the company, or for job-related reasons like you’ve lost your passion for the work you’re doing, it may be time to make a change.

Identify what needs to change to make you happy

So, you’re not happy, now what? Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to know exactly what will make you happy. Sometimes there’s nothing more helpful than a good old fashioned list of pros and cons. Start by writing down all the things you know you don’t want. Then, dig deep to figure out what you’re really looking for.

Be specific. Writing things like, “I want more money” is fine and totally valid, but that alone might not be the thing that ultimately makes you happy. True happiness usually stems from deep within you. It comes from things that give you satisfaction. These things could range from wanting greater decision making authority, to having more flexibility with your schedule so you have more work/life balance. Not surprisingly, the list of things that make you happy usually tends to shift as you move through various stages of life.

Determine the best way to go about making these changes

Just because you know a change is needed, doesn’t mean it has to be outside of your current organization. Are there any internal changes that would satisfy you at your current company? Have you lost your passion for the work you do but still want to stay within the organization? Do you want to try your hand at managing different responsibilities within your department or perhaps try out another department altogether?

While some organizations are admittedly more flexible than others, don’t overlook the possibility that there could be an internal solution for you. If you think it’s possible to make these changes at your current place of employment, talk to your manager. If, on the other hand, the problem stems from the culture and workplace interactions that you just can’t avoid, it may be time to look outside your current organization.

Once you’ve decided to start a search, keep it to yourself

It may give you a sense of relief to share your decision with certain co-workers. In fact, you may find that simply making a decision to move on puts a spring in your step and that, oddly, you feel better instantly. Don’t let this feeling cloud your judgement and make you impulsive. Moving on often takes longer than expected and internal shifts in an organization may work in your favor, removing managers that once made you miserable. Anything can happen, you might even change your mind about setting off to find greener pastures. Respect the organization and yourself by showing restraint and staying away from gossip, even if you’re the subject.

Keep things in perspective

No company is without its faults. No matter how much you love what you do or the company you work for, at some point, you’ll have moments where you’re reminded that “they don’t call it work for nothing.” But in the same breath, be thankful that you have a job. If it’s one you want to keep, great. If not, you can always take action to make things better.