top of page

What can you do when you're unhappy at work?

Is your job making you increasingly unhappy? Do you feel stuck in a position that doesn't offer growth opportunities or sufficient recognition for your work? You're not alone. I see clients that are unhappy in their jobs all the time. It's a taboo. Very often their co-workers and their managers don't know. Yet continuously feeling unmotivated and depressed at the workplace can have a grave effect on our overall well-being, both physically and mentally — so if your current job isn’t doing it for you, something needs to change.

If you are finding yourself frustrated and uninspired at work, then you need to take action before things spiral out of control. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to find more career satisfaction without quitting your job outright. In this article I'll explore some meaningful tactics that could yield tangible results when trying to find happiness at work.

1. Understand the root cause of your unhappiness

When you’re feeling unhappy at work, it’s important to take a step back and understand the root cause of your unhappiness. If for example you do not experience professional growth, you need to understand why. Are you not so visible? Do you come across as insecure or uninterested? Are there issues going on in your personal life?

People often bypass this step and start looking for solutions right away. The reality is that the root cause is often deeper and more hidden than you think, so this first step is really important.

2. Talk to someone you trust

When you’re feeling unhappy at work, you'll certainly think about it a lot. Probably more than is good for you. You might spend long nights lying awake and ruminate. But the thing about thinking is that it usually moves around in circles. That's very unpleasant, bad for your mental health, and more, it won't help you to break free from your situation.

Talking will help you to gain a different perspective, to think in new directions. You could talk to a friend, family member, or coworker who is supportive and understanding of your current situation. Talking to a career coach is even better. Of course I would say that, being a coach, but for good reasons. Coaches know to ask the right questions, that will make you think even further, use techniques from psychology and much more, all tailored to help you figure out what works for you in your situation.

3. Take charge of your work happiness

Very often finding out why you are unhappy is already enough to make a big shift. It is possible you realise that deep down you don't want this big career. Maybe it was your upbringing in which you learned that you should always advance, but that in reality the good work-life balance in your current job leaves you much more space to do things that you want outside of your job. Realizing this might alter your perspective on the situation completely.

But it may also be necessary to take action. You might want to have a conversation with your manager and discuss that you don't like the way you work together. Or maybe the penny has dropped that it's time to move on from your current role, and you need to start thinking about what could be your next step inside your current company or maybe even in a completely new profession. But what? And how?

Here too, the advice of a career coach can make all the difference. A good career coach has a whole toolkit with instruments that can help you to reach your goals or make a next step on your career path.

4. Make an action plan

After you're getting a clearer idea of where you're heading, it's time to make your steps concrete. What steps do you need to take in order to get where you want to? What do you do to be less stressed? What will you do to get more of the tasks you like and less of the ones you don't like? How can you find out which education would be helpful? How will you approach a job search? What will you do to become more visible?

5. Shine

This approach works. Almost all of my clients get fundamental new insights about their lives and then start taking steps. They show up in the sessions in a completely different way. I no longer hear the desperate tone in their voice, but I see enthusiasm about their future. The relief! This is so gratifying for me as a coach, but much more importantly, it is life changing for my clients.


bottom of page