There’s no question that working in a role we are passionate about is entirely more likely to have a positive impact on our happiness, engagement and performance.
The reality for many people, however, is life isn’t ideal and staying with the job you already have can at times make sense; for a while at least.
Supporting a partner through periods of unemployment, the need to juggle the demands of home and work, holding on to certain employment benefits that make a big difference to your family - these are just a few of the endless reasons people give for feeling the need to bunker down and make the most of a position they're not happy in.
But no matter why you feel stuck in your role, there are steps you can take that will allow you to thrive. Among the most important include these:
1. Know why you are there and focus on the ‘end game’.
When the going gets tough reminding yourself of the benefits of staying, will go some way toward helping you maintain perspective. Choose to see why being in your role will ultimately benefit you or the people you care for. Remember that the day will come when it is time to move on.
2. Take the opportunity to learn more about you.
Sitting in a role you don’t enjoy can provide great insight into what you do want. Observe the aspects of your role that drain you of energy, but also those that you do in fact enjoy. While it may be hard to find the positives in a difficult situation, be disciplined about looking for the things you can be grateful for.
3. Recognise when you need an attitude adjustment.
Being unhappy in your role is no excuse for becoming a drainer and undermining the happiness of other people you work with. Nor is it an excuse for giving a half-hearted effort. Focus on the importance of maintaining a strong professional brand that will serve you well when the time does come to move on.
4. Know precisely why you are unhappy.
Do you feel overworked, under-challenged, bored, frustrated with your colleagues? Avoid the all too common mistake of being miserable in your role without understanding why. There is little you can do to improve your reality if you don’t yet know what specifically is making life at work challenging.
5. Don’t assume nothing can be done.
Believe it or not, it’s in everyone’s best interest that you are happy at work. Your colleagues and manager are entirely better off when you are happy to be there and willing to do your part. Be honest with your manager about what you are struggling with and ask for their support in getting to a happier place.
6. Set goals.
Even a small goal can help you to maintain focus and feel some sense of achievement. Feeling successful will unquestionably impact the strength of your spirit and ability to keep going. New skills to learn, experience to gain, improvements in the quality of your work, are examples of the goals you can set.
7. Connect with colleagues you like.
There are bound to be people in your workplace you get along with. Seek these people out and find ways to spend time with them. While of course, it may not be possible to work side by side, even getting out of the office for lunch together can help you to enjoy at least some aspects of working where you do.
8. Manage your energy levels.
Eating and sleeping well together with regular exercise will have a big impact on the depth of vitality you feel. There’s no need to strive to become an elite athlete. What matters most is that you move – regularly. For example, rather than emailing people, get out of your chair and go have a conversation with them.
At the end of the day the only person who can make you happy and engaged at work, even when you don’t like the job, is you. Choose to take responsibility for your decision to stay and make the most of what you have. Be grateful for the income, learning opportunities or relationships your job offers.