Happiness at Work

How to maximize your psychological capital for success.

I hate my job!

What can you do if you're in a job you hate?

What can you do if you're in a job you hate?

In the past few years things have been pretty tough for most people. And it doesn't look it's going to get much better anytime soon. That might mean being stuck in a job which, in an ideal world, you'd quit. After all a fresh start always adds a spring to anyone's step.

But what can you do if you feel you're trapped in a job you dislike or possibly even hate but know you can't leave? A job where you know you're motivation and commitment could be higher.

Take it from me you won't be the only person who's noticed that you're none too happy. Your colleagues, family and friends would like things to be better for you too. Because it's fairly dull to be on the receiving end of constant grumbling. Moaning Minnies aren't fun before, during or after work.

So how can you help yourself and improve things too?

Here are my ten top tips:

1. Take our free happiness at work assessment. It will tell you exactly what's wrong, what could be better and will make practical suggestions for what to do next. You can access it by going to www.iopener.com/report - and it's only free for the next month after which it will cost £25.

2. Remember that happiness comes first. There's really clear research which shows that deciding you're happy makes a huge difference to how you go about things. Make that decision and change your attitude. You could even be daring and apologize to people around you for your negative behaviour.

3. Reflect on the bits of your job you do like: even when people tell us they are really unhappy at work, they'll still admit to enjoying 33% of the day. What tasks and relationships do you enjoy? What can you do to get more of what you like?

4. Think about what you control and influence: ruminating or chewing over what you can't change or influence will only make things seem worse. Actively think about what you can do not what you can't.

5. Ask yourself who you positively affect if you're staying in a job just for the money. Keeping a photo or reminder of your kids, partner or family members that will help remind you why you do what you do. And actively tapping into people who matter will give you the wherewithal to keep going. But here's the caveat: thinking about stuff and things just won't have the same affect. It's people not possessions every time.

6. Try something new: developing a hinterland of new activities and experiences outside work can provide you with new and different challenges, or some of what you might lack in your job. This hinterland will support you more when people are involved in it. Which real or on-line communities do you want to start to engage with in order to expand and develop new areas of expertise? Where might you find those people? Use a social network like www.xing.com to meet up with real people and turn your thoughts into actions. Or try www.neo.org and make a promise to yourself and then keep it.

7. Remember that it's people who give people jobs - especially in the current climate. The more widely you get out there, the more likely you are to find a job because so many jobs aren't formally advertised. They filled by word-of-mouth - those informal connections which means who you know and are connected with matters more than ever. So find out what's happening across your workplace, volunteer at your local school, hospital, or charity and investigate your local community. You could even ask close friends if they could do with a hand too. You never know what just might turn up as a result.

8. Think about what you want people to be saying about you: the more negative you are the more unlikely it is that your colleagues will want to help and support you. Are the more unlikely it is that they'll recommend you to anyone else.

9. Reflect on the times when you have coped and remained resilient whether at home or at work. Just analyzing what you did can boost your self-belief and confidence. So talk it through with someone else, work out what you did and what you could transfer to this situation. Keeping a reflective journal for the next few months is another strategy that will help you manage, especially if you focus on what goes well.

10. Decide that you can learn something even when you're doing something that you find boring, dull and repetitive. For example what's new about an old excel spreadsheet? What function didn't you know? What new shortcut that might save you time? How might you make the work easier to read? Doing this will not only add interest but it will show others that you're keen to add value and stay motivated come what may.

And finally just remember that hanging on to when/then thoughts - like ‘when I've got a new job, then I'll be happy' simply isn't helpful. My challenge to you is this. You could decide instead to be happy at work today -and have a huge effect on everyone around you. Not to mention the person who matters most. That's you.

Jessica Pryce-Jones is the CEO of iOPener, a human asset management consultancy and author of Happiness at Work.

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