Workplace Woes: How to Stay Positive When You are Unhappy at Work

I have worked for some great places and for some not so great places. Many times trying my hardest to get out! The reasons were endless. I either disliked the environment, my supervisor, or someone else who enjoyed making my life hell. I wasn't getting paid enough for the work I did, there was too much of a bureaucracy, or I was just being spoiled because I was in the real world now, and things weren't going according to the magical, idealist plan I had in my head. It could have been one or many of those things, and whichever one it was, it definitely included the former on many occasions.

I would complain to whoever would listen. I was unhappy, and of course there was nothing I could do about it, but apply for job after job. Even if the job wasn't in my field, I applied because of course I thought "anything is better than this." My unhappiness was causing stress, not just on me, but even in my personal life. I allowed the situation to affect not me, but those around me. Every conversation I had was about said job and the horrible people I worked with. To top it all off, I wasn’t getting any call backs from any of the jobs I was applying for. Sending resume after resume and hating every moment of my job. I could never understand why I wasn’t hearing back quick enough. Why after all of my hard work, and resume sending, why wasn't there anyone reaching out to me? Was I not qualified? Was I being sabotaged somehow? I just want to leave this place!!! Seriously, these are thoughts that really went through my mind. It was as if I was doomed to be unhappy in the workplace. Eventually, I did leave the place. I left happily and hastily. However, in the midst of all of it, I didn’t realize the gems that I was leaving with. I could have lived a happier work existence had I focused on what was really important, instead of what was making me angry.

I was learning some important lessons, but I wasn’t listening. As I matured, personally and professionally, I realized that I needed all of those experiences to get me to where I am. Not in a cliché sense, but in a very real sense. If I hadn’t worked with people that were so power hungry, I wouldn’t have realized my leadership style or what it means to be a good leader. If I hadn’t worked with people who didn’t expect so much of me, I wouldn’t have learned what I can really do, and strive for even more. If I didn’t allow myself to become vulnerable about the things that I didn’t know, I wouldn’t have learned to do them. There is a lot to be said about there being something to learn in every situation.

5 Simple Things I Have Learned

1) Focus On Your End Goal

While we apply for jobs that interest us, whether we are working in the corporate world or the non-profit sector, there is something that draws us to the organization. If it is money, then focus on making that money. Maybe you’re trying to get out of debt, or save all you can in order to retire early. Let that be your focus. After all, you had a plan in mind when you applied for the job. If your plan was to make a difference in your community, focus on how you are actually doing that.

2) Start a New Project

Just because you are working for a company or an organization, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a side gig. A friend of mine is really into art. She realized that painting feeds her soul and she turned it into a side hustle. So, while her job may not be her cup of tea at the moment, she has a lucrative side hustle that she will turn into her main hustle.

3) Get Social

There are plenty of networking groups in every city. Join one or all of them. Networking is a powerful tool. Once you begin working with others with like minds, you can partner on projects that will allow you to spread your wings, professionally. You may even in some cases make great connections to build your side hustle.

4) Have Fun Outside of Work

Remember that work should never become your life, unless you own the business. It is wonderful if you love what you do, but there should always be a boundary set. It’s important to have a strong support system that will not allow you to wallow in negativity. Surround yourself with people who will push you to enjoy yourself. If you’re unhappy five days out of the week, for eight hours a day, that should be enough. Enjoy your free time.

5) Learn All You Can

Take every opportunity for professional development that you can. Just because you have an end goal to leave your position doesn’t mean there aren’t important skills to learn. Those skills are building you professionally and you will need them throughout your career. So, in the midst of hating that job and wanting to get out, don't let that stop you from seeing the bigger picture. We are often becoming so focused on moving on to something new, or a place we would feel is better, that we don't focus on the skills and relationship building in the here and now. Try to find the things that you love about your job. Why did you apply in the first place? What about it makes you feel fulfilled? While you are preparing to make your exit, make sure that you pick up as many skills as you can. Don't allow your feelings to overpower the work you are there to do!


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