Do you hop from job to job because you never seem happy at work? Do you dread coming into work? In some cases, you may have more control over this situation than meets the eye.
Promise yourself you will not take or stay in a job you actively don’t like. If you are going to spend 8 or more hours a day away from the people and activities you love, you want that time away to feel worth it.
What can you do to find and keep a fulfilling, enjoyable job?
Know what you actually like to do
Start by making a list of the kinds of activities you really like to do every day. You want to do work that comes naturally to you – then it doesn’t always feel like “work”! You can also look up what your strengths are with assessments such as the High 5 test or the Kolbe test. Once you know what your strengths are, you could choose many different types of work as long as they enable you to use your strengths. You also want to feel that the work matches your values. When you can do work that you are naturally good at, among people and a culture you believe in, you are on the right track to work you love.
Try out new types of jobs to see what you like
See if your company offers a rotation program or ask if you can volunteer in another part of the company, and if that doesn’t work, see if your organization or university allows you to take a sabbatical. Otherwise, start a side gig and see how you like it. Keep a journal that helps you track how you felt in different jobs to see if you liked coming to work better.
Understand why you may not like your work.
It can be helpful to sort out the real reasons why you haven’t liked your work. Is it that the job isn’t a good fit for you? You should feel that you are using your natural talents during the day. Is it that you are bored and need more of a challenge regardless? If so, ask for more responsibility or just start doing work in your role that is more interesting to you.
Maybe you feel the people may not value you or they haven’t created a sense of belonging in the culture (and it has little to do with the actual job). Yes, it’s true – recent research shows that feeling you belong is even more incentive to stay in the role than higher salary and benefits.
Do your research ahead of time
Talk to anyone you can about the culture of the company you are going to next or read about the company on online sites such as Glassdoor.com. You can ask about the company culture in the interview by asking, “What are the things you like best about the culture I might not read about online? What are the phrases that are repeated again and again about the culture in this company?”
When interviewing for a job, ask your would-be manager what your success looks like at the end of the year. Then do a gut check – does that sound exciting to you? If it’s not a “for sure,” then it’s a “no!”
Adjust your attitude
If you’ve been unhappy in more than one job, it’s time to look in the mirror and see if this is a pattern. You might be unhappy elsewhere in your life and expecting your workplace to make up for how you feel outside of work. Or you might be expecting your workplace to give you more of what you want, even if you haven’t asked for it or haven’t yet earned it with your dedicated hard work. To feel more valued, start by giving more value. Then see if you are more noticed and respected. If so, then you’ve created a better vibe at work. If not, then it might not be a good fit for you.
Rather than thinking, “My employer didn’t do anything to make me feel better about my work today,” ask yourself at the end of every day: “What did I do to engage myself more in the work today?”
In a parallel example, people who receive social support at work feel a little better about their workplaces, but people who GIVE social support are the most engaged (and also get promoted the fastest).
These are reminders to be proactive about your involvement at work. Find ways to see how you can learn new skills and give to others. Keep having a mindset where you seek out new opportunities and challenges. YOU can be in control of having work you actually like!