I know it may sound like a simple question but until you have real clarity around this, it makes it really hard to move up the corporate ladder if you are unhappy at work. This is the topic I want to explore with you.
Before you even think about career advancement, the first important thing to know is this: Why you are unhappy in your current workplace first. What is the root cause of that unhappiness.
This may not be as obvious as you may think. Plus, if you have been unhappy for a while, it’s easy to forget the core cause of your frustration or mask it under surface-level reasons such as long hours, low pay or bad boss. While all of that may apply, there’s one core reason that is more true than all the rest. I want to help you find that.
Some of my clients feel so strongly that they know the root of their unhappiness that they dismiss this notion of getting clarity altogether: “I am unhappy because I don’t make enough money. Simple as that!” or “I am unhappy because I hate my boss. I need a new boss!”
I don’t blame them for thinking they know the answer. And I can relate very well.
I used to be 100% positively certain that my deep-rooted unhappiness at my job initially came from being grossly underpaid. I could swear by it under oath if need be. That’s how much I thought I knew myself.
The low pay was the most sensitive and humiliating subject for me to discuss around anyone. It meant I was not appreciated and valued enough by my company and it made me deeply unhappy.
So I naturally set out to solve the problem in order to become happy at work again. I managed to more than double my salary and triple my bonus in the next 4 years and guess what happened. I became more miserable and confused than ever before. I was making 6-figures with more autonomy and flexibility that I could have dreamt in my low-paying job, and I couldn’t be happy. I felt totally trapped instead. Why? Because obviously I was solving the wrong problem!
Low pay was not the root of my unhappiness. Other reasons which I will share in future strategies were the main reason but I never stopped for a minute to question my thoughts.
I don’t want you to assume you know why you are unhappy and then start solving your problem until you have clarity.
7 Questions to Ask to Gain Clarity about Your Unhappiness at Work
Let’s understand the real why behind your frustration and unhappiness at work. I know, I know, somedays, you may be ready to bolt out the door to find another job or career but don’t do it without knowing the real why.
Asking the right questions is the most powerful way to tap into the real truth.
Ask yourself these questions, take your time to find the right answers, write them down and repeat the process until you have a moment of clarity and truth:
- What specifically makes me unhappy at my job?
- What do specifically dislike/hate about my boss?
- What exactly is it about the management that frustrates me?
- What precisely is the problem with my work or the team?
- Why about the culture of the organization bothers me?
- What is it about the corporate structure that makes me unhappy?
- What do I want to change about the pay or the benefits?
And the ultimate question is the turnaround: What would make me happy at work?
List all the answers, even if you can’t imagine having it, list it anyway. Describe your happy state with your work.
When you have finished this exercise, you will have a new perspective on your old assumption and better understanding of who you are.
This is also great process to help you get to really know yourself. What are your true core values, what is important to you? What do you really get energized to do?
Remember, you have the right to feel however you wish but your management will not be likely to promote you if you are unhappy. So if you want to move up the corporate ladder, you need to get a hold of this issue and fix it fast because no matter what you do to hide it, it has a way of showing.