You're feeling miserable, uninspired and frustrated at work. You know something has to change, maybe you’re thinking of exploring a major career change and as much as you’d love to hand your notice in, you’re simply not in a position to do so yet. So, how do you stop yourself going mental and becoming depressed, how can you find the scraps of joy in what you are doing now?
Here’s my top 5 things you can do to feel better when you’re feeling stuck.
Share how you are feeling.
If I asked you what you hated about your job, I’m sure you could list a number of things - perhaps you feel undervalued, the work is boring, you aren’t paid enough, you hate your boss, the bureaucracy is stifling etc etc.
But, underneath all of those things, is something more fundamental. The work isn’t a good fit for you and you’re having to force yourself to do it, you’re probably smiling at your colleagues, forcing yourself to be positive in meetings, putting your hand up for the desperately boring project that you just know is going to be a disaster but feel you have to anyway. You’re not being true to yourself and that fundamentally feels wrong.
A simple step is to open up to someone at work. You may not be able to be fully open with your boss, but you may be lucky and have a supportive boss that you can confide in, or a trusted colleague. Opening up will feel like a bit of a weight is lifted and it might be that there are small changes that could be made to your role even in the short term to help you feel a little happier if you can share with your boss.
Consider reducing your hours
This isn’t going to be an option for everyone, but it is really seriously worth considering.
I’m a firm believer that new ideas and opportunities come from new experiences.
If you’re working full time, you’ve got limited time to open yourself up to new experiences. Being open to new experiences is a really big part of making a career change if you’re just not sure what you want to do. Trying something new that you’re genuinely interested in without putting the pressure on it being a new career is liberating and who knows where it may lead. Always wanted to take a creative writing course, enrol on a photography course, learn French, learn salsa…..? The possibilities are endless and can lead you down all sorts of different paths of self discovery, new passions, new people, new opportunities and you never know where these new experiences will lead or who you will meet. So, if you can free up some time and headspace it could be just what you need to change your life.
Everyone in the UK has the right to request flexible working arrangements, including reducing your hours, so if you’ve done your sums and can survive on less money, then find out how your company deals with flexible working requests and put in a request - thinking about the business and how you may cover your role in less time, or what may have to change - put forward options rather than problems. You can always do it on a trial basis for a few months firstly so you can both try it out for size.
Try to see the bigger picture
Ok, so entering numbers into a spreadsheet might feel dull, sitting in another meeting that you just don’t care about anymore is draining. The reality is that in most jobs, there are mundane elements - bits that are boring. Try to remember though that no matter how mundane your job might feel, your work is for something that matters and if you connect your immediate task, with something bigger, you may find that you can bring a little extra motivation and enjoyment to that task. to your task.
Maybe being on the phone with an upset customer isn’t your favourite way of spending your time. But, remember that you have the opportunity to turn that upset into happiness and make that person’s day just that little bit better. You may find your’e able to throw yourself into the conversation a little more to try and achieve that challenge.
Or perhaps crunching those numbers in that spreadsheet for the last big project you worked on feels like a nightmare task. But when you think of the impact that the information could have for the next project or task, it might not feel so worthless.
Develop Your Skills
If you're feeling as though your skills are underused and undervalued, or you’re just living the same day, every day, doing exactly the same things - take some action and bring about some change yourself.
Pick something that you're interested in, or have always wanted to develop about yourself and take it on as a challenge. For instance, maybe the one part of your job you enjoy is designing and delivering presentations to potential clients.
Think about what you could do to develop the area you like the most in terms of your skills - which you can take with you when you leave. Read everything you can find about public speaking and presentation skills. Take a free online course in your spare time. Do whatever you need to do to get really, really good at the part of your job you enjoy the most, and bring it into your day as much as you can.
Ask your boss if you can do a presentation at a team meeting etc.
It honestly feels fantastic to be growing and developing and becoming superb at something you enjoy with you in the drivers seat.
The better you get, the more likely you are to be asked to do more of it. And the more you do, the better you get.
Plus, when you're finally ready to make your shift into a new career, you’ll have these super skills to take along with you to impress your new employer.
Find the small joys every day
What you focus on grows. I’m sure many of you have heard that expression. It’s true. If you are focusing on how depressing work is, how much you dislike your colleagues or your job or your boss, your mind spends more time actively seeking evidence to support your thoughts - the negative thoughts. “See, they’re making me take the notes again at the meeting today - they don’t appreciate my other skills”. “Look at how miserable Paul looks today, I bet he’s as unhappy as I am here”. These little things all add up to reinforce the negativity.
Try to find the small joys in whatever it is your’e doing and hang onto those. So, yes maybe you are taking the notes at the meeting again, but actually it’s a pretty interesting meeting and maybe it will lead onto another opportunity. Maybe Paul is as miserable as you - perhaps he could be someone you could confide in and help each other out. Is your job close to home? Is it flexible so you can work from home when you need to? Are your colleagues good fun? Is the pay OK? Whatever you can be grateful for, hang on to and remember that.
Nothing lasts forever and if you’re looking to make a move soon, remind yourself that this isn’t forever and try to find the small joy in each day.