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Getting Happier at Work without Quitting your Job……..yet!

by bevbarnes on September 25, 2009

Unhappiness at work is an epidemic.  Most will tell you to go out and find your dream job in order to get happier or to just deal with it, work is supposed to be miserable, that’s why it’s called work.  Neither one of these options is true.

Jumping to a new job from an old one is just like dumping a relationship and jumping into a new one too quickly. After a short lived honeymoon, you will find yourself in the same type of job with the same types of problems plus additional problems that you never knew existed.  Of course if you are in a really toxic workplace (similar to an abusive relationship) quitting may be the right solution, but if you can hold off and do your own personal work, before you quit, you may get happier at work and start directing your career based on what you want rather than what you don’t want.

When I was miserable in my management job, I didn’t quit my job, mainly because I didn’t know what else I could do.  I did my personal work:  faced my own truth (that I really wasn’t cut out to be an office employee), identified and started using my talents where I was, and then, found meaning.  I was giving workshops for employees who were worried about downsizing and for me that meant that I was helping people to heal in a workplace that was pretty toxic.  

Then of course I got downsized. 

But by then I had already transformed my working identity and quickly started working as a Career Coach and Adult Educator.  I no longer saw myself as a Manager.  I loved this work.  It totally fit who I was, and helped me to believe that it was possible to love your work.

In the last 15 years, what I have learned is that the best way to find your dream job is to get happy where you are.  This doesn’t mean that you are going to stay in that job forever; it just means that getting happier opens doors that you don’t even know exist when you are miserable.

Now I know that getting happy at work has nothing to do with looking for a new job…..it has everything to do with learning how to think differently.  Getting happier at work is a combination of three things:

1.  Changing your thoughts because this is how you raise your happiness set-point (your base line level of happiness);

2. Clarity, getting clear on what energizes you and what depletes you, and

3. Meaning, or finding and believing in the why of your work.

I’ll go more deeply into each one of these elements in upcoming blog posts.  Stay tuned!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Maryann Lowry October 27, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Great post, Bev. One time I was teaching a seminar for student teachers. They came to class that night collectively drained and totally frustrated.
We took time to give everyone a chance to vent, because they definitely weren’t in a place to learn that night.

It was fascinating that not one person complained about the art of teaching. No one vocalized issues about a student. The complaints were all about administrative issues, paperwork, etc. As they processed that they still loved teaching, it seemed easier to let go of all the other issues.

Your blog entry on gaining clarity and meaning is so essential. Some people may leave a career, because they’ve lost their compass and are blinded by all the other issues.

Great blog!!!
Mary Ann

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admin November 6, 2009 at 8:46 am

Thanks for your comments Maryann. Sometimes when you get to the bottom of it, unhappiness at work has absolutely nothing to do with the work! I see work issues as a doorway in, where people get to start working on themselves to make their overall lives better. Bev.

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