Do you hate your job?  You are not alone. This is the most common complaint I’ve heard in my work as a career coach.

Just 30% of employees in the U.S. feel engaged at work, according to a 2013 report by Gallup. Around the world the proportion of employees who feel engaged and satisfied at work is a mere 13%.

For most people, work is a depleting, dispiriting experience, and they feel victimised, undervalued, unappreciated and disempowered.

So what can you do if you are in the unlucky majority who struggles to feel happy and engaged in their current job? Do not rush to quit!

Follow these steps before making any impulse decisions:

  1. Try to put emotions aside and assess your current job by making a list of pros and cons. Although it may seem like your job has no positive aspects right now, it is not true.
  2. Now look carefully at the ‘minuses’ and reflect honestly on whether some of them lie within your control. For instance, if one of the minuses is “too much stress”, it is partially within your power to do something about it: stress management can be learned.  Similarly, a negative factor such as “too many projects” or “lack of respect from top management” is partially an opportunity for you to step up, speak up and be more assertive.

It is crucial to separate the factors that are reparable and are (at least partially) your responsibility. Then you can make an effort to work them out and see if you feel better. Left unattended, those issues are highly likely to follow you to your next job.

  1. Explore if there is a way out that is less drastic than quitting the company altogether. If you find that among the job disadvantages you’ve listed are issues such as “nasty boss” or “no prospects for further promotion/growth”, or “an obnoxious colleague”, sometimes those can be solved if you move to a different department or join a different project. If there is someone in a different part of the company you admire, how about volunteering to help them? Are there any projects or initiatives that you feel like engaging in, that would make you feel excited and happy?
  2. Before quitting your job, have an honest look at the level of your wellbeing – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.  Are you allocating any time for physical activities? Are you getting enough sleep and taking care by eating healthy ?

According to a recent study by Harvard Business Review, people are vastly more satisfied and productive when four of their core needs are met. Physical, through opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work; emotional, by feeling valued and appreciated for their contributions; mental, when they have the opportunity to focus in an absorbed way on their most important tasks and define when and where they get their work done; and spiritual, by doing more of what they do best and enjoy most, and by feeling connected to a higher purpose at work.

Through my work with clients – both expat executives and managers, I found that we can significantly boost our satisfaction at work by taking better care of our physical health (regular exercise, healthy eating, regular sleep and meditation are some essential ingredients).

  1. Similarly, learning to practice mindfulness, time management and prioritizing will help you unload your overwhelmed mind and start feeling a little bit better.
  2. Another way to change jobs without changing companies is to alter your current position to better suit your needs and goals. We call it “job crafting” – the art of reworking your job description so you are able to use your strengths more fully, and can contribute more meaningfully to the workplace. This would help you fulfill your spiritual needs: doing more of what you do best and enjoy most, and feeling connected to a higher purpose at work.
  3. If you explored all of the above and still feel you want to quit, I suggest you look for a new job without leaving the old one.  Take that time to update or create a LinkedIn profile, to update your resume, to connect to people, get a few references for your CV.
  4. One crucial step is to get clear on what you want to do next.  Explore where you want to be in 5 years – a career coach can help if you find it difficult to figure it out yourself. Next step is to expand your network and use it for your goal.
  5. During your job search, stay positive : focus on the aspects of the job or company environment that you enjoy. Keep doing your job well and try not to talk to your boss about your negative feelings – getting a good recommendation should be a priority…. It is not a good idea to burn bridges. You never know what the future will bring…

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