Am I happy with my job or should I just quit? Ask yourself these 7 questions to end this dilemma.
How do you genuinely feel about your job? I believe everyone with a job should regularly reflect and ask themselves a very simple question; “Am I truly happy with my job?”
A 9 to 5 job represents the biggest chunk of our 24 hour day, and it hence takes over our 365-day year. Before we know it, we’ll be spending years and years of our time on this earth in an office! Therefore, the question of happiness at work might appear to be simple, and is often overlooked, but in fact is extremely critical.
Also, let me highlight again “our” day and “our” years; your time is yours and it shouldn’t be any other way. For this reason, being stuck in a miserable job is the worst long term pain you can inflict on yourselves. On the other hand, if you happen to be in a job that you enjoy and love then congrats to you on hours, days and years well spent!
But how can someone measure happiness? How can one determine whether or not they’re truly happy with their jobs? Here are 7 questions that could help you assess your happiness level at work:
1. …what is the first thought about work that comes to my mind when I first wake up?
If the first thought that comes to your mind in the morning as you wake up is “why do I have to go to work” or if you spend your Sunday nights constantly worrying about your Monday mornings then something’s up.
However, it is worth noting that there is a blurred line between post weekend blues and genuine work frustrations, and you should be able to distinguish the difference between both by being conscious of your excitement levels during the week. Do you find yourself miserable every morning as you dread going work? Or is it only a post weekend Sunday thing?
If frustration seems to be the norm, then you definitely are unhappy with your job.
Our “jobs” should come with excitement, thrill and anticipation. I know that sounds too idealistic or too good to be true but it’s not. There are people out there living their dream jobs, what stops you from doing the same?
2. …am I fulfilled with my job?
If you seem to be just satisfied with your job but feel like there’s more to life and to your capabilities, then that’s a symptom of being unfulfilled.
Being unfulfilled might manifest itself at work through you feeling like you’re not delivering up to your true potential or that you’re performing tasks just because you’re asked to rather than want to. That’s not the same as saying you are not excelling at work, because you might well be the best at you job, however still feel like it is not meant for you.
I believe that signs of un-fulfillment tend to generally stem from internal factors rather than external ones. In other words, you could have the best job, on paper, but still feel internally unsatisfied. A reason for that might be that you chose a career that would make your parents or society “proud” rather than one that you genuinely wished for yourself. Either way, you just feel like you’re in a place where you’re no longer chasing your dreams, and the long term effect of that could result in under-performance at work because there’s something out there more worthy of your attention.
In this case you should opt for a job that is aligned with your dreams and that reflects your true authentic self and aspirations.
3. …am I growing and learning at work?
When you first started your job you might have been learning a great deal of new skills and knowledge, but how about today? Do you believe that your learning experience has plateaued? Is your job becoming one that is repetitive and mechanical? If you’ve answered yes to at least one of these questions then you’re probably not gaining as much from your job today as you did in the past. Not a healthy sign.
If you often catch yourself looking at the clock several times during the day, it could be because you’ve been doing the same thing for too long, or that you feel unchallenged at work. Do something about it, speak up. If you don’t speak up to ask for challenging and growth opportunities then you will probably stay wherever you are. There is no reason for your boss to think otherwise if you show up to work every day and appear to be doing your job well.
Also, if growth opportunities at your organization are capped or your profession is one of a static nature rather than evolving then quit. There’s no more valid reason to leave a job than limited learning and growth opportunities, whether it be at a personal or a professional level.
4. …am I just a resource at work?
Do you often feel like you are just a number in the organization? Or that you’re not more than a dollar making human capital?
I personally felt that way towards my first job with consulting. I felt like I had a dollar value attached to my forehead that went up and down like a stock market depending on whether I was allocated to a project or not. It’s not a cool feeling, and it was one of the major drivers behind me leaving that job. I felt like I was easily replaceable and that my contribution or position within the firm was not one of influence or impact.
Do you feel like you could be creating bigger impact somewhere else rather than staying wherever you are just building someone else’s dream? Then go play bigger, nothing is stopping you from doing so. Find that bigger game.
5. …do I enjoy working with my team?
We technically spend more time with our colleagues and teammates at our 9 to 5 jobs than we do with your beloved ones, spouses or family. It is therefore extremely essential that we appreciate the team and the work environment we are surrounded with.
How do you really feel about your colleagues? Hint: you don’t have to be ‘besties’ with your colleagues and it is extremely normal to have your ups and downs with them. The situation, however, becomes questionable if your interactions with your team tends to typically fall on the negative end of the spectrum.
A solution to a situation like this would be to be transparent with your team and boss by communicating to them how you honestly feel about the work environment. They might simply be not aware of their actions around you and it is therefore worth sharing your perspective on the matter in hopes of a positive outcome.
However, if you feel like you are stuck in an unfix-able situation whereby the corporate culture and values are ones that do not align with yours, then you should probably seek a way out.
6. …am I being treated and paid equal to my worth?
It is very important for you to judge where you stand at work relevant to your worth and value. If you feel like you are being unfairly treated, especially in terms of your pay, then try and fix the situation as soon as possible.
Bernard Hopkins, the former professional American boxer, once said “If you don’t know your own value, somebody will tell you your value and it’ll be less than your worth”
If you feel like your situation is one that Bernard is referring to and you haven’t done anything about the matter yet then what are you waiting for? Don’t waste more time and book a time slot with your boss to have a conversation about this ASAP. If you feel you are deserving of a higher salary then fight for it. The result of a conversation with your boss or HR director could go either way; if it doesn’t end in your favor and you’re sure that’s because your organization doesn’t value you rather than it being a case of a financial circumstance, then there’s your cue to start looking elsewhere.
Your monthly salary is not the only indicator reflecting your worth to your organization as there are other aspects of you job that are worth considering. To provide you with a few examples ask yourself the following questions: how big are the responsibilities being given to me? Do they come with sufficient exposure and growth? Have I ever been skipped for promotion? Are my ideas being heard?
When we lack appreciation we can internalize unspoken criticism and in the long run start believing it, and you don’t want that. Find yourself a job, or an organization that recognizes your worth and that rewards you accordingly.
7. …how has my general mood been ever since I started my job?
Jobs, if regularly stressful, can have repercussions on our health and morale. Have you noticed how your mental and emotional states have been ever since you started your job? Have you generally been a happier person or a more stressed out one? Do you have a healthy routine going on for you or are have you been falling into bad habits ever since you started your job?
If you’re unsure about the answer to the above questions then ask your partner, friends or colleagues since they might have an opinion on the matter. Stressful and taxing jobs tend to spill over into our personal lives and affect its relationships, especially when the job consumes you and doesn’t allow you to spend time or be present with the people you love. Moreover, our stressful jobs can manifest in physical symptoms such as low energy levels, exhaustion, waking up at night, and more.
One other reason that led me to leave my job in consulting, besides feeling like I was just a resource, was my whacked out work life balance. It affected me negatively and I had become less of a happy and positive person that people around me were used to.
These 7 questions are merely a guidance tool that when answered should hopefully inspire you to either take action towards bettering your situation at work or starting to look for the nearest exit.
If you’re unhappy and have started to look for some better opportunity that feeds your soul then you are on the right track. That means you’re ready to play bigger. If not, I hope I could inspire you to start making moves before its too late.
Before I end this blog I would like to make a bold hypothesis, one that says that those of you readers of this blog (with a job) already know the answer to the question at hand. Reading this blog and going through the 7 questions above might have been an exercise of re-affirmation to what you already know. If you are one those readers, comment below and let me know whether I’m right or couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Also, would love to hear from all readers about what they think with the above questions, anything to add?
In all cases, I urge you to always take control of your 9-5, or else it will take over your life, health and happiness.
Do you want to learn more about my journey and how I have found an escape plan out of the rat race? Check out my story here.