Read This If You Can’t Stay Happy at a Job

If you’re noticing a pattern when it comes to job satisfaction, it’s time to examine why

You’ve had a few jobs along your career path. And while you like them all (at least somewhat) at the start, slowly but surely, you always end up in the same place: detesting it. After a few months or years—you get that “I’m not happy at my job” feeling. Your job makes you miserable, so you jump ship and move onto something new. But sure enough—like clockwork—at every new job you start, you eventually run into the same feelings and problems all over again.

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Maybe you have a hard time relating to your co-workers. Perhaps you think your boss is an overbearing micromanager. Or, it could be that the mere thought of trudging into the office and checking your inbox makes getting out of bed in the morning feel like a feat of superhuman strength.

So, what’s the deal? Why can you never seem to stay content with a job for longer than a year or two?

Believe it or not, this happens to a lot of people. We can all get a little restless in our careers and we’ve all heard the old clichés about the grass always being greener on the other side. 

What can you do? Don’t panic yet. Instead, it’s time for a little bit of self-reflection.

It’s Not Them, It’s You

You are the common denominator across all of the jobs that you’ve had.

First things first, let’s start with a little career advice reality check. While it’s easy to think that your no-good, terrible employers are the sole reason for your constant career unhappiness, have you ever stopped to shift the spotlight to yourself? Could the problem actually be you?

To be brutally honest, yes. Chances are, you’re having a hard time finding happiness at work because you’re still relatively uncertain about what exactly you want. And, it’s pretty challenging to feel satisfied or fulfilled if you have no idea what you’re actually looking for.

This blindspot can lead you to look for new jobs that are just like your current one, with the hopes that a new environment will change the way you feel about the work. But, inevitably, that doesn’t work either.

This doesn’t mean you’re doing something “wrong,” but it does mean something’s not right. So, while you might be tempted to constantly shift blame to all of the external circumstances that could be causing your dissatisfaction, it’s important to get a little introspective. We all have way more control over our own happiness than we often realize.

How to Move Forward

Knowing the problem can help you find the solution.

Now that you’ve swallowed that brutal reality pill, what’s next for you? How can you move on in a way that’s actually helpful and productive—rather than continuing to hop around from unlikable job to unlikable job?

1. Make a List

Get a better idea of what you do and don’t want in your next role.

The first thing you need to do is gain some clarity on what is making you so unhappy each time. What are you missing? And what are you looking for?

Make a two-column list to help you really narrow your focus. In one column, list the positives—these are the things you’re actively looking for in a new job or a new employer. If it’s been a few years since you actually thought about this, it’s possible that your industry, your skills, and your circumstances have changed. Perhaps you want an entirely different set of responsibilities. Maybe it’s a flexible work schedule. The sky’s the limit. Jot down everything that you think would make you truly happy in your career.

In the other column, list the negatives—or, the things that you absolutely don’t want in your next role. Maybe you hate your boss’ management style. Or, perhaps you want to get out of your industry. Whatever it is, list those things in this column.

Now that you have your list, the first thing to consider is whether there are opportunities at your current company that could be a better fit. This could be within your department, or elsewhere. Review your employers’ website, or look around on ZipRecruiter, to see what open positions may be available. 

If you have a good relationship with your manager, it may be useful to have a conversation with them and see if they have any recommendations or contacts worth speaking to within the organization. If not, it may be worthwhile to reach out to someone in the recruiting department.

Whether or not those are viable options, you now have a checklist to help you better evaluate any new opportunities that present themselves. You can use that criterion to ensure that you don’t end up in yet another short-term situation.

2. Seek Outside Fulfillment

What you do during your off-time can affect your outlook when you’re at work.

There’s no denying that your career makes up a large portion of your life. Most people dedicate at least 40 hours per week to their job, and often interact with co-workers more than friends and family members.

However, if you find yourself continuously wrapped up in a spiral of being unhappy with your job,  it might be time that you try to find happiness outside the four walls of your office (or the constant video calls on your computer screen). Find a hobby or interest that you’re passionate about or start up a side hustle to utilize some of the skills you think are otherwise untapped. Do what you can to find some satisfaction in your life that isn’t completely job-related.

Having proper work life balance can improve your overall attitude and can have an immense impact on the way you perceive your work. So, finding some fulfillment and interest outside of your career can give you a much sunnier outlook inside the office!

We all want a career that makes us happy. But, many of us fall into the trap of becoming dissatisfied with our positions after a certain amount of time.

If you find yourself falling back into the same situation over and over, it might be time that you take a closer look at what is going on—rather than continuously moving around in search of greener pastures. Use this post as your guide, make your list, and prepare to finally feel a little more content with your employment situation.

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