When was the last time you were happy at your job? When was the last time you came home and felt a sense of accomplishment?
This week I’m going to explore why people believe they aren’t happy at their jobs, why I disagree with the reasons and what you can do to feel better about your job.
Why people aren’t happy at their jobs
In a 2017 article by CNN about why people hate their jobs, the following were the top four reasons:
- Few or little opportunity for advancement
- Company culture
- Being underpaid
- Loathsome managers and coworkers
As I read the article, the pattern that I saw (and what most people believe) for why people aren’t happy at their jobs is due to circumstances outside of themselves. It’s the policies, culture, industry and people that are the issue. If only things would change then they would be happy.
I completely disagree and here’s why
In the Manage Your Mind Model that I use to coach my clients, feelings are not created because of circumstances. Nothing outside of us is ever the reason for how we feel. The reason we feel any emotion is because of our thinking (for help with the model sign-up here for the free “5 Simple Steps to Reduce Overwhelm Today”).
Our thinking about a circumstance is the ONLY reason we feel the way we feel. Our thoughts are sentences in our minds that make the circumstance mean something. The circumstance is always neutral; it doesn’t mean anything until we make it mean something.
Why we feel the way we feel
For example, I may have the thought “My husband made me angry because he did not take out the garbage”. We’ve been taught to believe that people’s actions are responsible for how we feel. But in the Manage Your Mind Model, my husband not taking out the garbage is a neutral circumstance. What I think about it and what I make it mean, is why I feel the way I feel. My husband did NOT make me angry because he forgot to take out the garbage, my thoughts about him not taking out the garbage made me feel angry.
The great news about this awareness is that it means we are in control of how we feel. We aren’t victims of any circumstance because we get to choose what we want to think.
In my example, I could choose to be angry at him based on what I choose to think, or I could think that he must have been pretty busy when he left so he’ll either take more garbage out the next time or I’ll just take it out myself right now. Now I get to feel more peaceful towards my husband and I start my day in a better place.
Every person, place, or thing at work is a circumstance in the Manage Your Mind Model. What you may describe as a “problem” is just a circumstance in the model. If you are unhappy, it’s because of what you are choosing to think about the circumstance. Your thoughts about the policies, culture, industry and people are what are making you feel unhappy. Again it’s not the circumstance that makes you feel any emotion, it’s your thoughts about the circumstance that creates your feelings.
So how do you feel better at work?
You begin to look at what’s been making you unhappy. What are the circumstances that you have believed were making you unhappy? Now write down the thoughts you’ve been thinking about the circumstance. What have you been telling yourself that has made you feel the way you feel?
Once you have the connection between how you currently feel and the thoughts that have created that feeling, you can now choose how you would like to feel. It can be challenging to jump from unhappy to happy so I recommend “climbing the ladder of emotion” incrementally. You don’t need to make a big leap because the thoughts you think have to be believable, first and foremost.
Your thoughts are always optional but the new thought you choose to think must be believable. This can be difficult when you’ve been thinking a certain way for a very long time. If you’ve been blaming your boss for years for your unhappiness at work, it may be too big a leap to jump to being happy but you may be able to feel empathy or pity or gratitude.
The old thought might have been “My boss is such a jerk! He makes me so frustrated when he doesn’t review my work on time.”
The new thought could be “I would definitely not want my boss’s job! He always looks unhappy. I wouldn’t want that level of stress”.
You don’t have to jump from hating your job to loving your job but just know that you are in control of how you feel about your job. The job can’t make you happy or unhappy; only the thoughts you choose to think have the power to do that.
Let’s face it – you spend way too much time at work to not feel the way you want to feel when you are there. The great thing is that it is 100% within your control.
- People believe they aren’t happy at their jobs because of circumstances
- The reason we feel unhappy at our jobs is not the circumstances
- We feel the way we do because of the thoughts we choose to think
- In order to feel better about work we need to choose better feeling thoughts
- You are always in control of how you feel about your job.
There’s an expression in recovery programs that says “It works if you work it, so work it, you’re worth it”. I hope you begin to apply what I taught today and start seeing ways to feel better about your job.