Make Your Current Job Work For You

According to a report by the Conference Board, more than half of Americans – including over 55 percent of 45- to 54-year-olds and more than 60 percent of those 25 and under – are not satisfied with their jobs. That’s an awful lot of unhappy people. Our work dissatisfaction has been steadily increasing over the past two decades. When asked for specifics, the biggest reasons were work/life balance, not feeling appreciated by boss and/or coworkers, and no potential for creativity or growth. (Notice that money was not listed.)

So, ok, we get it. You’re unhappy with your job. But, as in many things in life, hating your job isn’t just about your job. Part of the unhappiness lies within you and a change in your work won’t solve the problem unless you make some changes in yourself. Before you jump ship to another job, give these tips a try and see if they don’t result in a happier life. At least if or when you do leave, you’ll have cultivated a better attitude to take with you.

1. Count your blessings. No matter how bad your job is, there much be some things you like about it. Maybe the commute is short. Maybe the cafeteria has a killer salad bar. Maybe you get your birthday as a free day off. Make a list and start being grateful for the things on it.

2. Be flexible. Don’t view every change at work as the end of life as you know it. Embrace new challenges and ideas and give them a decent chance to work before deciding they’re no good.

3. Share ideas. Do you have a better way of doing things? Write your proposal up and send it to your boss along with a request for a meeting to discuss it. You’ll improve your relationship with your boss and maybe net yourself a chance at a promotion.

4. Try something new. Are you feeling stuck in your current job, but think there might be a future for you in a different part of your company? Find an area you want to work in and see if the boss will let you cross-train or make a lateral move. Most companies value employees who show initiative and who want to learn and grow.

5. Ask for feedback. Maybe the problem is that you feel unappreciated. Ask your boss for a meeting to get some input on how she views your work. Tell her you’d like to meet regularly to get feedback, both good and bad, so you can improve.

6. Look outside yourself. It’s not all about you. Does your company build bridges? Help people educate themselves? Develop processes to make people’s lives easier? Maybe your job is a tiny little cog in the grand scheme of things, but you do play a part in the bigger picture.

7. Enjoy your colleagues. Nothing makes the day go faster than working in an atmosphere of collegiality and sense of purpose. Go out of your way to get to know your coworkers and then work as a team to get things accomplished.

8. Accept your job for what it is. You can’t change your job – at least not very much. You can change yourself, and your reactions and your feelings. Let go of the negative feelings you have; how much you enjoy your job depends a great deal on the attitude you bring to it.