Are you unhappy at work? Let’s figure out why.

You’ve seen the stats- seems like everyone is unhappy at work and looking to move.

Figuring out why you hate your job is a question we rarely seek to answer fully. In most cases, we say “I hate my job, so I’d better go get another!”, then are surprised when we aren’t crazy about the new one either. String a few of those experiences together and it’s easy to start feeling like a failure, like you’re not good at anything.

If this scenario sounds familiar, its time to break it down, really diagnose what it is about your job you don’t like, so that you can make the appropriate adjustments. After all, when your car breaks down, you don’t always run out and get a brand new one, do you? If it just turns out to be a dead battery, would that make any sense?

Why are people unhappy at work? Here are reasons I’ve come up with:

  • bad boss
  • job not a fit with your skills, interest, values, and/or experience
  • long commute
  • don’t respect organizational leadership
  • low pay
  • too challenging, OR not challenging enough
  • too chaotic, boring
  • too great of a workload
  • lack of cultural fit
  • don’t like co-worker
  • personal issues you are dealing with

It could be any combination of the above, or all of the above. Phew. I could have used a nap halfway through that list!

And add to that pile that you are trying to diagnose something that you are smack in the middle of, which only adds to the challenge. We often can’t see our own trees because of the density of our personal forest.

When we leave a job without knowing what it is, or what combination of “its” that has led to our unhappiness and subsequent departure, we are bound to repeat it.

Before you decide to quit because you don’t like the boss, but generally like most of the other “work conditions”, doesn’t it make sense to explore whether there is a something inside the company you can do. If your boss is the owner, however, that’s a different story. Consider these scenarios:

  1. If the commute is too long for you to have the balanced life you want, consider asking for telecommuting options a couple of days per week. If you are denied, you may have to leave as it is unlikely the company is going to move for you.
  2. Is the Job too challenging or not challenging enough? Again, you may want to explore other company options before leaving.
  3. If you don’t respect the organization’s values, or question the ethics? That may change with new leadership, so you must decide if you want to wait around.
  4. Is it the products or services you can’t get behind? That is probably not going to change, so get that resume up to date.
  5. Are you dealing with personal issues that have you in a bad place mentally or emotionally? Changing jobs won’t fix that either.

If you have read any of my other articles, or my book “Stop Peeing on your Shoes: Avoiding the 7 Mistakes That Screw up Your Job Search”, you know that one of my key points is always around self-knowledge and self-awareness. This topic is no exception. Practice stepping back from your situation with an objective eye. Ask yourself, “if a friend came to me with the issues I am dealing with, how would I coach him through it?” or better yet, sit down with a trusted advisor and talk it through.

Yes, there usually comes a time to change jobs.  Doesn’t it make sense to step back, take a hard look at yourself and your situation and “jump smart”?