Work, at its best, can be inspiring, fulfilling and enjoyable. But if you’re not exactly in your dream job, and you’re unhappy in your career long-term, work can become a daily burden, a real chore that leaves you living for the weekends and holidays to escape from the drudgery of your job. If the latter rings more true than the former, maybe it’s time to step out of the work funk, and focus on crafting a career – and a life – that you love.
Whatever your occupation or career choice, work is a huge part of our lives. Work can define us, in terms of who we are, how we spend our time or why we even get up in the morning. Work, at its best, can be inspiring, fulfilling and enjoyable. It can create life changing opportunities to travel, to learn and grow on a professional and personal basis. It provides opportunities to meet other people, to engage and interact, which as humans is very important to us. Oh, and it generally pays the bills too.
The flip side of work is that it’s not always enjoyable. Even if you generally love your job, there will be days when you don’t, days when you have to attend a pointless meeting or undertake a particularly tedious or onerous task. But if you’re unhappy in your job long-term, work can become a daily burden, a real chore that leaves you living for the weekends and holidays to escape from the drudgery of your job. If you continue to work day in day out in a role from which you get no enjoyment or fulfilment, it can have an enduring impact not just on your professional life but on other areas of your life as well.
Few of us are able to compartmentalise our lives completely, so being unhappy in one area of your life naturally has a ripple effect on other areas. And because work takes up such a sizeable chunk of life, the ripple can be more of a tidal wave. This unhappiness will of course be apparent to those close to you. If they’re colleagues, they too may become unhappy because it’s no fun working with a misery guts. If it’s your partner, they may become frustrated with your unhappiness because they want you to be the fun-loving happy person you were before but they are powerless to do anything about it. You are unlikely to be a great partner or friend if you are miserable at work because it is such a large part of daily life, yet you are the only one who can change things.
Perhaps you feel you work extremely hard for very little reward (financial or otherwise) or you’ve trained a long time to get into a career which you have found you actually don’t enjoy. Maybe you feel stuck in your job due to financial pressures so force yourself to ‘suck it up’ and get on with it. Whatever the source of your frustrations or disillusionment, being unhappy at work can have a dramatic impact on your mental health, lowering self-esteem and morale, extinguishing your zest for life. Ironically, it can zap your energy levels at the one time you really need energy to do something positive to make a change – and so the cycle continues.
And although financial pressures are often cited as a reason for sticking it out, staying in a job you dislike can have a negative impact on your finances by curbing your enthusiasm to seek progression or development opportunities or panicking you into taking another unsuitable role just to get out of the first role, only to find yourself unhappy again. Even worse, you may be performance-managed out of your job leaving you unemployed and/or become so embittered from the experience and interview poorly due to your negative attitude towards work (and life in general).
Let’s not forget that even if you are desperately unhappy in your job, it doesn’t mean that you don’t work long hours and risk burn-out. In fact, that could be the very reason for your unhappiness. So being miserable at work can have a negative impact on your physical as well as mental health.
Unhappiness at work can have a major impact on your social circle. If you do a job that has a high social aspect, you could be spending a lot of your ‘free’ time with people from an environment where you are unhappy. You may become resentful of friends outside of work who enjoy their jobs and potentially damage relationships with them, if your prolonged negativity doesn’t do the trick. Think also of the message you are sending out to other people by staying on at a job that makes you unhappy – that you are willing to live with an unhappy situation because you won’t do anything about it? That it’s OK to be unhappy and unfulfilled? That work isn’t meant to be enjoyable? If you have anyone around you who sees you as a role model or mentor, this could have a knock on effect on their own career aspirations.
The fundamental thing about being unhappy with your career choice is that you are the one who has made these decisions and yet sticking by them if you are unhappy is not being kind even to yourself. It’s time to stop procrastinating or wallowing in unhappiness and seek some help in getting you back into a career – and a life – that you love. FindMyWhy is a free of charge personal purpose project that will help you to identify your key drivers and motivators, helping you to assess what’s really important to you as an individual and guiding you on the path to professional fulfilment. FindMyWhy will help you to unwrap your unique inner strengths so that you can plan your career around your natural aptitudes and interests, as well as being able to confidently articulate what these are to prospective employers. Created by our expert team of psychologists, FindMyWhy starts with a completely free online test which drills down to the core ‘you’ and produces bespoke reports to help you to channel your focus and purpose accordingly. FindMyWhy will provide you with meaningful insight into who you are, producing informed and relevant guidance that is tailored to you in a way that’s informative and accessible. It will give you the confidence to make that jump to a new job by demonstrating how you are perceived by those around you so that you can reflect, learn and grow from the experience. Bid farewell to the work weary world and unlock your true purpose with FindMyWhy.