Why Am I Unhappy At Work?
Why am I unhappy at work when I am in a good job with prospects and where I feel there are opportunities for me to develop and progress?
Life is too short for many different reasons and given that in a typical day we would be spending 8 hours asleep, 8 hours at work and a further 8 hours dotted around a variety of tasks not connected to work but which will include trips to and from work.
Even the most successful person in your organisation goes through periods of frustration and disengagement with their lot.
So what are the issues that make us unhappy and discontent at work?
- The Drive Trap: there is nothing wrong with pushing yourself to achieve – this is a very satisfying part of a working life. What does create problems however is when we are very competitive and this then takes over our more rational and balanced view of the workplace. We start to chase targets just for the sake of reaching them which then takes away our motivation and sense of achievement. To focus upon your own goals to the detriment of the wider organisational and team ethos leads to colleagues distancing themselves from you and you losing the drive that you so wanted to harness for your success. Excessive drive and ambition create problems for us.
- The Ought-to-do Trap: doing what we think we should do instead of what we really want to do. Too many targets and goals we are set benefit only the organisation, leaving many with a feeling that their potential and passion is being worn down. Too many “norms” in an organisation stifle creativity and risk-taking in favour of operational systems that just keep producing the same, or similar, outputs. Very frustrating. Know your place and accept it is hardly a motivational mantra!
- Working too hard and doing too much Trap: the pressure is always on and we will take on additional duties/responsibilities/targets in a way that previous working generations would not. Staff come to work when they are sick, some do not take all of their Leave allowances and some never claim expenses that they are due, Time Off In Lieu (TOIL) becomes something that staff talk about, grumble about but seldom take. This becomes a rapidly increasing downward spiral which is very hard to break out of, especially as many senior managers expect this approach to be the norm. In some ways overwork creates overwork as we try to get ahead of the deadlines imposed upon us and we can see overwork as a way here of reducing stress because we think we can get all of our tasks completed. Work too hard and you lose social contacts at work and make increasingly costlier mistakes.
So how can you remove yourself from these Traps and generate some space for yourself?
- Recognise that work is not the main way that you can achieve satisfaction and personal success/worth. By using the Emotional Intelligence Competencies of self-awareness and self-control you can be aware of your feelings and moods to see how they affect your thoughts and actions. Overworking comes from the view that you are somehow worried or concerned about your position at work and that it is under threat when actually that is far from the truth!
- Finding a purpose: find things that will allow you to be more innovative, more adaptable an enthusiastic about your job. Nobody has a job that is totally satisfying all of the time and even the most attractive position has its drawbacks – it is all about finding something that inherently motivates and inspires you, in the good times and not-so-good-times.
- Use the power of friendship and social interaction: If you work with people you like and respect, and if they like and respect you in return, you probably enjoy going to work. But if the opposite is true then the workplace becomes deeply unsatisfactory. You may tell yourself that the situation is tolerable or that you do not need friends at work but that situation is very unlikely to be true! Organisations that promote good working relationships are successful and deliver a strong social system that achieves goals and innovates.
Success is NOT the key to happiness. To be successful you must be happy first.
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