Four Practical Ways to Increase Your Happiness at Work

On any given weekday, you’ll find thousands of gainfully-employed ladies complaining about their jobs on social media. I often see tweets and Facebook posts about how people are dreading going to work on Monday or that they can’t wait until Friday so they can get away from their boss from hell. A recent Conference Board survey confirms that over half of American workers are unsatisfied in their jobs. Especially after a particularly bad or hectic day, it can seem impossible to stay positive with all the challenges you may face at work.

No matter what you’re going through at your 9 to 5 though, it’s important to remember that your boss is NOT ultimately responsible for your job satisfaction. You are. If your career isn’t going the way you want it to, it’s up to you to either change it or get out of there and seek out new opportunities. You can’t go around blaming other people for “making” you unhappy in your job – at some point you have to take matters into your own hands. Try these actions to increase your happiness at work – starting right now.

1. Stop Complaining About Your Job

Complaining only reinforces unhappiness. Besides, nobody likes a Debbie Downer. If all you do is talk about the problems you have at work, no one will want to listen to you or help you in your plight. You may be unhappy in your job, but you don’t have to whine about it to everyone who asks you how you’re doing. (This includes Twitter and Facebook, people! Your internet friends don’t need the negativity, either.) Besides, complaining never helped anyone change their circumstances. Choose to reflect positive energy and not only will it spread to the environment around you, but it will put you in a better position to take action to actually improve your situation.

2. Refuse to Play the Martyr Role

If you’re always working late, with no extra pay…STOP. If you find yourself saying things like, “If I didn’t work 70 hours a week, there’s no way everything would get done around here,” you might be playing the role of a martyr: one who suffers for the sake of principle or for a particular cause. But really, there’s no reason for you to stay at work until the wee hours of the night unless you work for yourself. It may be time for you to address your own issues with time management. Or realize that your boss is simply taking advantage of you by asking (or strongly encouraging) that you stay late. Get rid of the need to feel indispensable at work and you might just start to enjoy the time you do spend there a little more.  The work that has to be done can, and will get completed if you force yourself to leave work at 5:00pm.

3. Ask for a Raise

A lot of women hate their jobs because they simply don’t get paid enough. But that doesn’t have to be the case. If you have valuable skills that benefit your company, there’s no reason why you can’t request to be compensated accordingly. Everything is negotiable, whether you believe it or not. If you’re doing a good job, there’s no harm in asking for what I like to call a “compensation adjustment” – a useful euphemism for “I want more money.” If what you really need for your own peace of mind is more income, by all means you should ask for it. Of course, you may not get it, but the worst thing your boss can say is no. At least your employer will know that you know your own worth. And when you feel like your work is appropriately rewarded, you’ll be much happier at work.

4. Take a Vacation (or Stay-cation)

When was the last time you took a day (or a week) off? And when I say “off” I mean time where you do no work whatsoever. Many employees save up their vacation time for when they have the money to take a fancy trip out of town, but you don’t have to wait that long. You are entitled to your days off, so use them! They are an important part of the compensation package for the work you do – you’ve earned them. You might take a day to travel to a nearby city, wander around your local museum or goof off at the amusement park. Whatever you do, just stop hoarding your leave time and use it to recharge so you can come back to work with renewed energy and optimism.

Questions for Reflection:

  • What can you do today instead of complaining about your job?
  • What changes are you willing to make that will increase your happiness at work?

Comments

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Comments & Feedback:

  1. Hi Rosetta,

    Timely post. I don’t like my job. I would love to be doing something more meaningful. But I decided that I was not going to complain anymore and be positive and happy at work.

    I also decided to take some action: 1) start applying for work I would enjoy; 2) join a young professional club and start networking; 3) use my time after work to invest in interests that I am passionate about in hopes that eventually a career can come out of these interests.

    There’s certain things we can’t change in life but there is always something that you can do to move you a little closer to where you want to be. Thanks again.

  2. Candice Madison

    I think sometimes these things are easier said than done.
    Especially when you are a Black Woman competing in an arena dominated by those who are inverse of what you are, often you will find that you have to work long hours, tolerate certain things to get ahead. But then I guess the question becomes “Is it worth it?”.

  3. Kara

    I think another piece of advice would be to learn to engage in assertive communication with coworkers that may be contributing to a less than happy work environment. It took me years to develop that skill but once I did, Insaw a change in how those around me treated me because I demanded more for myself and took things into my own hands.

    Read my latest blog: Be Happy That You Didn’t Get That Job

  4. I believe it is very important to take vacations. Your job gives you personal time off for a reason. At the last company I worked for people did not take vacations and at the end of the year it caused more stress for them because if they hadn’t taken the vacation they would lose the hours. I take everyday given to me as I believe that is a part of work/life balance.

  5. What a coincidence. There is restructuring at my job, and my team have been completely cut. I’ll have to increase my happiness at a NEW job or position. I’ll see what happens.

  6. I’ve made it a point to try to leave work on time. I was especially inspired by an article on Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook for leaving work at 5:30 (http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/16/opinion/stone-leave-work-day/index.html).

    I sometimes feel shame for leaving on time. But, I’ve come to realize that there’s always work to do regardless if I leave or stay longer. Also, I have taken the perspective of valuing my personal time more. And, if Sheryl Sandberg can leave work on time, so can I. ;)

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