10 Ways to Be Happier at Work Without Quitting
Based on studies that involved 142 countries of around 180 million employees, only 13 percent of employees are happy and engaged at the office. But we probably didn’t need to see these dismal statistics to know that we’re generally not satisfied at work.
Being unhappy at work seems to be an accepted social norm. After all, how many times have we been privy to someone moaning about how much they hate their job? How many times have we done the same ourselves?
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You are not limited to either feeling unhappy every day or quitting. There are a few simple things you can do that will change your career outlook and help you enter a more positive mindset.
How happy are you at work right now?
1. Never Over-Commit
If you’re not 100 percent sure you can deliver on something, never promise that you can. That way you can control expectations and prevent feeling overpressured to make something happen. Don’t worry about looking incompetent. At the end of the day, you may even look more impressive when you keep setting realistic expectations and consistently exceeding those expectations.
2. Don’t Compare
Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. There will always be someone who’s better than you at doing specific tasks, so there’s no point in comparing yourself with other people. Instead, focus on bettering your skills and continue to improve. That way, you’ll keep your moral high without tricking yourself into feeling less competent.
3. Maintain a Positive Sense of Humor
Yes, work is serious business. But that doesn’t mean you should take everything seriously all the time. Learn to laugh at yourself. If you don’t, you’ll only make yourself vulnerable to negative emotions if something goes wrong. While it’s important to take responsibility for your mistakes, you should also take every opportunity to turn anything negative into something positive. If it takes humor to do that, so be it. Your work life will definitely start feeling a lot less stressful.
4. Say “Thank You” More Often
Studies by the Harvard Business School and the Wharton School have found that being thanked makes us feel better about ourselves and triggers more helpful behaviors towards others. In fact, the study found that 66 percent of people will help if they are thanked in advance. So thank people. Not only will it encourage people to help you more often, but you’re spreading positive vibes at the same time.
5. Saying No is Totally Okay
Even superheroes fail sometimes. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you fail sometimes. But you can avoid all that stress, to begin with, you can learn how to say no. Be mindful of how much you can achieve so you don’t take on more tasks than you can handle. Of course, we want to be helpful and take on extra once in a while, but if you risk sacrificing your primary job, then it’s okay to refuse.
6. Know When to Agree to Disagree
Since the work environment is often heavily team-based, disagreements will happen, and there’s nothing you can do about it. But, what you can do to protect your emotional and mental health is to learn when to stop arguing. Even if you know you’re right, there’s no point in trying to win an argument against a stubborn person. Pick your battles. As long as you get what you need to accomplish the task at hand, it’s better to agree to disagree and move on.
7. Help Out Your Colleagues
A study has found that people who rated helping colleagues at work reported feeling happier even when asked three decades later. The researchers also found that helping your colleagues creates a positive cycle, and more satisfied workers are 33 percent more likely to help their colleagues than those who are unhappy.
You don’t have to take on big tasks to help out. Just bringing your colleague a coffee when you go grab yours is helpful. Ask if they need help with paperwork. Even basic things like that will create a more positive work environment.
8. Make Fewer Decisions
Decision fatigue is a real thing. No matter what your job is, you’re probably making dozens of decisions a day. Each decision drains your mental resources, which will make your next decision that much more difficult. So when you’re mentally depleted, it’s understandable that you feel burnt out and unhappy.
To solve this problem, just look for ways to make fewer decisions. Before weighing in with your opinion, ask yourself two questions: 1) Will it significantly impact the direction of your team? 2) Do you feel strongly about it? If the answer to both questions is “no,” then this is your chance to just go with the flow.
9. Look to the Future
When you know that your work is helping you achieve our long-term goals, you’re more likely to feel more satisfied and make better career decisions. But that’s only possible if you continue to remind yourself of what your plans are. If you don’t feel like what you’re doing now isn’t helping you reach your life goals, perhaps it’s time to be a little more proactive in looking for opportunities to gain more relevant experience. Try not to let yourself feel stuck because that’s when job dissatisfaction sets in.
10. Reflect at the End of Each Day
Why do you feel like you’re working so hard, and why? Answer this question by reflecting at the end of every workday. Make sure to recall something positive instead of just ruminating on the negative. If you record these memories in a notebook or on a digital device, you can look back and remember why and what you’re working so hard for whenever you need an emotional boost.
Sources and Further Reading:
1. Gallup, Inc. “Worldwide, 13% of Employees Are Engaged at Work.” Gallup.com, 8 Oct. 2013, www.gallup.com/poll/165269/worldwide-employees-engaged-work.aspx.
2. Leddy, Chuck. “The Power of 'Thanks'.” Harvard Gazette, Harvard Gazette, 19 Mar. 2013, news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/03/the-power-of-thanks/.
3. “Virtue Rewarded: Helping Others at Work Makes People Happier.” News, news.wisc.edu/virtue-rewarded-helping-others-at-work-makes-people-happier/.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 KV Lo