Can You Be Truly Happy at Work? According to This Career Confidence Coach, You Can

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Kate Bishop, Career Confidence & Wellbeing Specialist, Coach & Trainer59
Making Mondays Feel Just As Great As Fridays
April 13, 2024 at 1:2AM UTC

Let’s start with some good ol’ facts folks just so we realise that we are not alone in our unhappiness or partial unhappiness at work.

There are roughly 3 billion working people in the world, give or take a few and only 40% of them say that they are happy at work. That leaves 1.8 billion very unhappy people out there - and let’s be honest - we are never 100% happy 100% of the time at work, even when we do what we love.

The question here is — how can we be happy at work? Or at least happier at work?

It makes sense for us to have a job which we enjoy and do for work all the things that we love, however, this is not always (in fact for the majority of my clients is rarely) possible.

Let’s start by identifying what is making you feel unhappy and ask yourself - how much of this is in my control to fix?

Go back to when you first started and consider:

  • What drew you to the role and the organisation?

  • What has changed?

  • What’s been great since you have worked there?

Take your time to get to the core of the issues and think about all of the ways in which you could solve the problems - even the most ludicrous.

Chances are you will find a way to make your working life more bearable whilst you consider your next more.

If you are fully able to solve the issues and return to a happier job then nice work! No need to read on. 

However, if you think that those niggles may not completely disappear let’s assess how your role and organisation is working for you.

Let’s go back to some key questions to make sure you are in the right role and company:

  • What is your organisation's purpose/vision/mission?

  • What are its goals?

  • How do these align with your purpose and goals?

If, at your core, you are not aligned with what your company does or its approach then I am afraid you will always be unhappy there.

When I started working in events I thought I could change the way in which temporary staff were treated from appallingly to respectfully - it took me 8 long years to realise I could not by which time I was burnt out and very depressed.

I encourage you to identify and list all of your core values (honesty, respect, development etc) and nore which are and which are not being met at work. Consider how you can bring your values more into your work. If this is a dead end for you then move to a company which mirrors your values.

If you feel that you are in the right place but the issues are with your role then let’s dive into your purpose at work:

Having a purpose gives us a sense of fulfilment and for each it will be slightly different. 

Take some time to understand what your purpose is — not based on your role but based on you.

  1. List your unique personal qualities then narrow this down to your 2 top ones (e.g. optimism & enthusiasm)

  2. Now note down 1 or 2 ways you enjoy expressing those qualities when interacting with others (e.g. to inspire, to support)

  3. Assume the world is perfect right now. What does this world look like? How is everyone interacting with everyone else? What does it feel like? This is a statement, in the present tense, describing the perfect world as you see it, hear it and feel it. (Remember it is a fun place to be!)

  1. Combine the 3 elements you’ve captured so far, into a single statement. 

For example: “My personal purpose is to use my enthusiastic optimism to support and inspire others as we champion each other and leave each other feeling happy and fulfilled.”

Now you can begin to see if you are bringing your purpose into play in your work and role.

If you are struggling with this then consider the below questions to see how you can work more with your purpose:

  • What is the purpose of your role?

  • How does it benefit others?

  • How can you be even more purposeful in your job?

But what if you are working in the right organisation whose values align with yours, you have a fantastic team of people around you and your role mirrors your personal purpose yet you still feel unhappy?

If you cannot identify any stand out problems then take an audit of your day to day tasks to see how many of your skills and strengths you use. 

It may be that you are not playing to your strengths or not utilising your expertise and experience enough to feel satisfied or that you are achieving much.

Get creative to see how you can make more of you at work - all of the things that you bring to that role and organisation - afterall, that is why you got the job.

Here’s a few ideas to get started with:

  • Take on more projects aligned with your expertise, skills, strengths, etc.

  • Push your ideas more.

  • Get involved in other areas of the organization which are of interest to you.

  • Get to know colleagues you haven’t worked with before.

  • Insist on a professional development plan.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Kate Bishop is a fully certified Life and Business Coach with the prestigious The Coaching Academy, she specializes in career & confidence coaching. With a strong focus on self-esteem and wellbeing at work, Kate loves facilitating workshops, giving keynote talks, and working with individuals to improve their inner-belief and working life whether that be a complete career change, taming their stress, making their positive impact, or empowering them to leap up their career ladder.

Are you truly happy at your place of work? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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