3 Things to do When You’re Unhappy at Work

Let’s face it, feeling unhappy at work is an unfortunate but common experience. Even I will admit that there are some days when even I don’t feel like getting up and heading into the studio (and I love my job!). It can be a challenge to get into gear and make my day as productive as possible…

Throughout Season 7 of Productivity Paradox we will be talking about cultivating happiness through productivity… and I am so excited to get started with our very first episode of the season! This week on Episode 079, we discuss the importance of changing our mindset so that we can turn a not-so-good day to a better, more productive day instead.

So today, I want to share with you the three things that you can do when you’re feeling unhappy at work so that you can turn the situation on its head and become happier—and more productive. Let’s get started!


1. Stop Focusing on the Money!

This can be tough, because we all need some sort of financial income to survive in the world in which we live, right?

It’s important to think of money as just an ‘extra’ to the work that we are actually doing, rather than the entire point of our experience, because you know what… This idea that I’ll be happy when X happens—whether X is a new job, a promotion with a huge pay increase, and so on—is not at all the secret to success.

More money doesn’t mean more happiness! The amount (the goal) is always shifting when you pin happiness on a certain number… And once that happens, it becomes unreachable on the horizon and our unhappiness continues.

Outside of poverty, studies show that having more money doesn’t make us happier. Usually, when we purchase things that we want, we have a very small bust of happiness… and then we start thinking about the next material item on our list.

The secret here? It’s important to stop focusing on material gain, and instead focus on spending money on experiences, which are shown to make us happier not only in our personal lives… but at work as well!


2. “Buy” Time for Yourself

Now, spending money on experiences does not necessarily mean giving up all of your life’s savings to take an extended vacation somewhere tropical (though that does sound appealing, doesn’t it?) Instead, what I mean by spending money on experiences is the idea that we can make more time to cultivate happiness through our experiences (with friends, loved ones, etc.) by spending money on convenience items.

If you’re someone that spends their days at work feeling unhappy because you feel like you just don’t have enough time to get everything done and have enough time left over focus on yourself or your personal life, then I want to encourage you to look into time-saving experiences which can lower stress and boost happiness…

This can include ordering a meal service, hiring household help or paying someone to run errands. If you can afford to give yourself the gift of time, it’s a convenient way to a happier life, and will relieve you of those uncomfortable feelings we often experience when we have a lot on our plate at work!


3. Look for Meaning

Work can play an important role in our happiness, so it’s important that we don’t hate going to work each day!

We are wired to seek meaning in life… It’s what makes us human! When we are unhappy in the workplace, we can easily lose sight of what we value, and, in turn, we start to pay less and less attention to the parts of ourselves that matter most to us. This is especially true when we find ourselves working for dysfunctional organizations that often bring a lot of stress…

We reach a point where we start to think that our own personal values do not belong in the workplace, and this continuously perpetuates those feelings of unhappiness that lead us to disengage from our job.

The key here? Focus on your purpose and look for meaning in the tasks you’re performing as they align with your values. Having a sound, cogent, and compulsory purpose not only helps you to become stronger and more resilient to the stressors we encounter at work… But it also motivates you to continue to live your purpose in all facets of your life, boosting your happiness in the process.

So, the next time you’re experiencing a trying day in the workplace? Remember your purpose and try to re-frame how you look at your job… If you are someone that enjoys helping people and whose purpose rings true to that effect, think about the ways in which your job contributes to a better place for others. Or, if you’re someone who loves to learn, you might think about the opportunities available to you to learn new skills or improve on your existing skill set.

Being more mindful of how our values can be expressed in the workplace can increase our level of satisfaction and happiness not only on the job… But when we’re off the clock, as well!

If you are someone who has had a not-so-great day at work, I’d love to hear some of the ways that have helped you to shift your mindset and get back into the swing of things! Be sure to share in the comment below…

And if you have not yet checked out the very first episode of Season 7 of Productivity Paradox, I encourage you to join me in the conversation as we explore the idea of choosing happiness and learn a little bit more about how happiness and productivity go hand-in-hand.



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  • Ali

    My favorite way to boost my mood after a bad day is to dance while making dinner. Sometimes it’s hard to get myself motivated to start the routine task of cooking, but if I crank up some danceable music, eventually all that chopping and stirring becomes part of the boogie.

    July 17, 2018 at 3:28 pm

  • inkWELL Press

    I love this idea, Ali! It reminds me of that saying we like so much, “Just Start.” Once you do, you’re motivated to keep going. It’s great that you found such an easy and small way to make a big impact on your day. I’ll have to try your tip out!

    July 18, 2018 at 10:35 am

  • Stephanie

    I love reading your email. Great stuff! Thank you!

    July 26, 2018 at 12:37 am

Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton