Since starting Lipstick & Ink, I’ve had numerous people reach out to thank me for writing the type of career content I’m writing. Sadly, those same people have then confided in me about how unhappy they are at their current job or at their company. While I’m not currently at that point in my career now, I can certainly relate to a time where I was in that situation.
My first job out of college was at one of the largest media agencies in the world. In fact, it was my dream job. However, that ‘dream job’ mentality only lasted about eight months. After that, it took a dark turn. I was placed on a new, understaffed account that the agency had recently won. My nights of leaving the office at five were long gone. To keep up with all the work, I was getting into the office at seven a.m. and not leaving until seven, eight, sometimes nine o’clock p.m. The twelve to fourteen hour days weighed on me, especially because I didn’t have a laptop to take my work home with me. I was strapped to my desk and was in the most unhealthy situation I’ve probably been in my entire life.
Needless to say, I’ve been there. I completely feel for those of you going through a rough time. A lot of the times, if you’re not happy in your job, you end up taking that home with you and it affects your overall home life too. It becomes a vicious cycle of unhappiness. I’m here to tell you that you can make changes to get your happiness back on track. Below are a few things that are tried and true that can help you get out of this rut.
Speaking up about your unhappiness in the workplace can be terrifying, awkward and uncomfortable. You also don’t want to come across as a negative Nancy, so the way you go about it can make or break the situation. Make sure you express your concerns in a calm and thoughtful manner.
After so much unhappiness in my job at the agency a few years ago, I finally realized enough was enough. I had originally tried to talk myself out of it multiple times with rationalizations such as “this is my first job out of college, this is expected” or “I deserve this, I’m at the bottom of the corporate ladder.” But it came to a point where I was coming home crying almost every night from pure exhaustion and unhappiness that I knew I had to say something. I first went to the highest manager on my team and laid out my thoughts. I came prepared with a list of things I hoped would change for me to get my mental health back on track. She appreciated me coming to her but admitted a lot of the changes I was requesting were outside of her control. I was then directed to make an appointment with the HR department. I brought that same list to talk to our head of HR and again, left the meeting feeling very defeated. It became apparent nothing was going to change and I realized this company didn’t have my best interest at heart. I felt comfort in knowing that I had least tried to make solid changes, but realized then it was time to change companies.
If you are unhappy, say something. It never hurts to express your thoughts, especially when it concerns your mental health. It’s the first thing I recommend doing and if nothing is resolved coming out of those conversations, know that it’s time to begin looking elsewhere for a job.
Look For a New Job
Ah, the job search. It’s never fun or easy looking for a job while you’re still unhappy in your current job. My first recommendation here is to make a list of things you’re looking for in a new job and things you want to avoid that you don’t like in your current job. Also, make a list of your passions and how you can potentially apply those at your next company. Seeing those laid out on paper, you’ll begin to see trends of what you like and what are going to be deal breakers when looking for new jobs.
It’s also important to use all the resources and people you know when on the job search. I think a lot of the times, people feel like they’ll look weak if they ask for help. That is the farthest from the truth. I personally believe if you’re actively asking for help or for advice from other professionals, you are taking your career into your own hands and gaining that additional perspective you may need. If you’re serious about changing jobs, you’ll want to make sure your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile are all in tip top shape. If you’re unsure about it, reach out to those that can help you review and critique. Don’t be afraid of criticism. Allow yourself to learn and make changes because it will only help you as you gear up for job applying and job interviews.
It’s important to have perspective, no matter how bad your job gets. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of pitying ourselves and thinking that it can’t get any worse. But here’s the thing, it can likely always be worse and at the end of the day, you still have a job. I’m pretty positive that no job out there is perfect and as the saying goes, sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. You may have friends or family members that seem to have the perfect job or be at the perfect company, but it’s all relative. There’s going to be pain points with every job, so remember that!
Change Your Attitude
With perspective, it’s also critical to maintain a positive attitude. If you carry that negativity and unhappiness every time you go into work, the people around you are going to notice. As easy as it is to wallow in negativity and complain about all the bad things about your job, push yourself to think positively. Focus your energies on what you can get out of this job or something new you can learn or do. Take as much as you can from this job while you decide your next move.
Make Time for Self-Care
If we can’t get happy inside the workplace, we want to make sure we’re not dragging that unhappiness home with us. Once you’re outside the office, make time to take care of yourself – even if that means just plopping on the couch watching Netflix with a bottle of wine. Treat yourself to the little things like a pedicure, a bubble bath, or snuggling in bed with a book or your journal.
Talk It Out
I’m one of those people that just has to talk through things. So when I’m distressed, the first thing I do is call my parents. It’s better to talk to someone who doesn’t have any bias and can lift you up. Avoid talking about your unhappiness with other unhappy people because you end up creating a very negative space that you don’t want to keep putting yourself in. Having a positive influence in your life who can be an ear to listen and offer feedback is ultimately going to help you feel better in the long run.
If you’re going through a rough time in your career right now, keep your chin up. Know that your situation is likely temporary and there are things you can do to make changes. Is there anything else you’ve been doing that’s helped you get through this tough time? Let me know in the comments. Hang in there!
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Role Strategy and Employee Engagement Manager at Salesforce and has over 12 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.