How to be happier at work
How do you feel when you know you have a long stretch of work ahead of you? Do you feel calm, in control and content with what’s to come? Or do you have a sinking dread about what might happen? Or perhaps you simply feel… apathy?
We spend an average of 3,507 days at work in our lifetime so, of course, many of us want these days to be a little brighter. Not everyone will be in a position to work in their dream career right now, but there are ways we can make work a more enjoyable place to be.
To start with though, what is it that makes us unhappy at work? Everyone’s situations will differ, but holistic life and career coach Rebecca Kirk says, in her experience, the following are common causes:
- A lack of autonomy and being micromanaged.
- A poor relationship with the boss or other team members.
- Feeling undervalued (being poorly remunerated or praised).
- Unrealistic expectations of what is achievable by one person or within a working day.
- Being out of alignment with your employer’s mission or culture.
- Lack of challenge and feeling bored by the work itself.
- Having poor work/life boundaries in place which leads to stress and burnout.
- Not being properly heard or able to contribute your skills and talent.
- Not wanting to get involved in any organisational politics.
- Lack of human contact and socialisation with colleagues (particularly being felt during lockdown as more people shift to working from home).
- Feeling like a round peg in a square hole!
I’m sure many of us will nod in recognition of at least some of these causes. Some may feel too big and difficult to change, but Rebecca highlights that the first step you can take when you feel unhappy at work is to recognise the power you have within yourself to change your situation and, then, start small.
“Start with one small, simple step – you don’t have to embark on a full-scale career change overnight! Recognise that your unhappiness can be your catalyst for transformation.”
Reframing the negative feelings you have towards work as a catalyst for change can help you regain power over your situation. As Rebecca says, small steps here are key – focus on the next step in front of you rather than the mountain you want to climb.
As a holistic life and career coach, Rebecca advocates a combined approach, focusing on body, mind and spirit. This, she notes, can offer a more empowering and sustainable way to improve happiness at work. So what does this look like? Rebecca shares some tips:
1. Connect to your intuition
Start listening out for your inner voice more and what it’s trying to tell you about your current work situation and what to do next. Go beyond the thinking mind even just for a few moments and instead try to feel what the right thing is to do for your highest good.
2. Start punctuating your working day with pauses
Use little gaps of space to switch off, ground yourself and allow yourself to just be (and to connect with any higher force you might believe is supporting you). This could be as simple as taking three deep breaths with both feet on the floor whilst at your desk or by going for a mindful walk in nature at lunchtime. Learn to become more present and still. You’ll also find more clarity, calm and balance in the process!
3. Don’t let your ego get in your way
Don’t let your ego get in the way of stopping you from doing a job you might be happier doing because of what others might think. Realise that your work identity is not who you truly are underneath.
4. Visualise what you want your working life to look and feel like
You can do this by creating a vision board. Meditate on this daily and feel the feelings of having it now. Give your thoughts and feelings a vacation from what you don’t want!
5. Practice gratitude for your current work
Even though you might not be loving it at the moment, there will be something you can be grateful for, even if it seems small. You can also be grateful for the challenge you might be facing as a potential catalyst for change. Gratitude can raise your vibration in an instant which, in turn, can attract more of what you do want into your life.
We hope these tips can help you start your journey to feeling happier at work and if you think you’d benefit from the guidance and support of a coach, use our search tool to find a career coach.