Trouble is, changing jobs can be a major challenge, particularly for people over age 50—employers tend to prefer younger workers despite age-discrimination laws. And there’s no guarantee that your new job will be more satisfying than your old one. Often the best solution is to find a way to enjoy your current job more. Eight ways to do that…
Learn something new. There’s a good chance boredom is at the heart of the problem if you’re feeling dissatisfied with a job you’ve held for years. One way to beat workplace boredom is to volunteer to tackle new projects or take on new roles for your employer.
Examples: Try to participate in an employer-sponsored training program to learn a new job skill. Volunteer to help out in a different department.
Even learning something unrelated to your job during your free time could help overcome workplace boredom. People tend to feel more satisfied with all aspects of their lives when they are learning—even aspects of their lives that are not directly related to the topic they are learning about.
Examples: Take a public-speaking class at a community college. Enroll in a creative-writing workshop. Sign up for an acting workshop or improvisational comedy. All of these will translate to enhanced creativity and communication in the workplace—and boost your happiness, too.
Focus on your employer’s mission. People who believe their employers make a positive contribution to the world tend to be more satisfied in their work. You don’t have to take a job with a charity to accomplish this…you just have to hear positive feedback from people who use and enjoy your company’s products or services.
Example: Visit your company’s social-media web pages, and read the comments posted by customers, focusing on the compliments.
Declutter your work area. People tend to be happier and calmer when they are in tidy spaces. Decluttering an office also tends to be a task that can be easily achieved within a short time—perhaps a few hours—allowing you to mentally chalk up a workplace accomplishment when you need one.
Connect with colleagues. People who like the people they work with also tend to like their work. That’s no coincidence—forming positive connections with colleagues makes work seem more meaningful and the workplace seem more pleasant, in general.
If you do not get along especially well with the coworkers you currently know, make connections with other people in your company. Not only might you meet some people you like, you might form some useful professional contacts in the process.
Examples: Ask people from other departments to join you for coffee or lunch. Volunteer for charity projects sponsored by your employer. Join the company softball team or bowling league.
Come up with a positive response to your negative internal mantra. Each time you catch yourself feeling unhappy at work, jot down what you’re thinking. Develop an upbeat response, and train yourself to think it whenever you feel unhappy about work.
Example: Some workers in their 50s, 60s and older are dogged by the thought, My sector is changing, and I’m too old to learn anything new. They could counter this thought with, I have decades of experience responding to change. I’ve always managed to remain productive before, so I certainly can now.
Also: Spend as much time as possible around coworkers who have positive attitudes and as little as possible around complainers—other people’s attitudes rub off on us. Meanwhile, laugh and smile as much as possible in the workplace, and cut out your own complaining—your upbeat attitude could help improve the overall mood for everyone.
Glory in workplace successes—even when they aren’t yours. People who are dissatisfied at work often feel, There’s just no winning here. They are less likely to feel this way if they celebrate the accomplishments of their colleagues as well as their own.
Example: When a coworker receives a raise, promotion or praise from the boss, don’t think, That should have been me.Instead, think, Look at that—it is possible to succeed here.
Stop asking, Why does my boss have it in for me?…and start asking, How can I make my boss’s life better?Sometimes when people aren’t happy with their jobs, the main source of their displeasure is a poor relationship with their direct supervisor.
The secret to improving a strained relationship with a boss is coming to terms with the fact that this relationship is not about you—it’s about your boss. Whether you like it or not, your job is to make it easier for your boss to do his/her job. Your boss’s job is to make it easier for his boss to do his job—not to make your job more pleasant for you.
To be happy at work, you need to come to terms with these facts. If you can answer, What can I do to make my boss look good to his boss? (or What can I do to help my boss earn more money?), then you have uncovered the secret to a better relationship with your boss. If you don’t know the answer, come right out and ask your boss, “What can I do to make your life better?”
Remind yourself that you have the power to quit. Feeling powerless is a common cause of worker dissatisfaction. Remind yourself periodically that even if you don’t have much power in your current position, you always have the power to quit and do something else—you simply choose not to exercise that power for now.
In the meantime, take steps to improve your ability to get a good job, such as obtaining training and certification in in-demand skills. Even if you never change jobs, this should help you feel more in control of your career.
This post appeared in Bottomline Personal.