How to Overcome Chronic Career Unhappiness

When you are unhappy and unfulfilled in your career, it tends to put a domino effect in motion. After all, because so much of your day is spent at work, a miserable experience can have a pretty damaging effect on your overall mood and quality of life. To “fix” your chronic career unhappiness and thus improve your life in general, your first step is to figure out why your work is making you miserable. Once you have that crucial piece of the puzzle, planning for a transition that will create your ideal career and work environment becomes significantly easier.

To figure out the source of your unhappiness at work, we recommend getting in touch with your core values, or those things in life that are most important to your overall happiness and well-being. This is important because, for many people, stress occurs when their lives aren’t in alignment with their values. For example, let’s say you genuinely value integrity, but your role at work forces you to act without it on a routine basis. Because your job doesn’t match your values, you’re going to run into difficulties sooner rather than later. In clarifying your values, you get the opportunity to understand where the stress is coming from. That way, you can also choose to do something productive about it.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Identify your top five values. Google “core values” and choose your top five from that list. For example, integrity, openness, family, respect, humor, happiness, financial security, etc. From there, define what each of your core values means to you. For example, if you value communication, does that mean you find it important to listen more than you talk or to speak your mind when you have an opinion?
  2. Evaluate how your life matches your values. Over the next week, keep track of the times you did and did not honor your values. How did each of those circumstances make you feel? What happens inside when you aren’t able to be true to one of your values? Are you honoring your values more or less often than you thought?
  3. Make a change. Once you have an idea of how often you’re honoring your values, make a list of the changes you’ll need to make in order to honor them more often. For example, let’s say you honor family, but are at the office every day from 8 am to 8 pm. In that case, you may decide that you want to ask for a more flexible schedule, or look for a new company that values a work / life balance.

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