First comes denial. Then anger. You even try to bargain. When that doesn’t work, you become discouraged. Finally, you accept it: You’re not as satisfied with your work as you want to be.
It could be your job, your office environment or even extenuating circumstances in your personal life. Whatever the case -- you’re not alone. A recent study showed that 52.3 percent of people want more from their work. So what can you do to remedy the situation? The first step to solving a problem is figuring out the root cause.
Related: What Was Your Worst Job?
Here are five of the biggest things keeping you from being happy at work -- and what you can do about them
1. You’re don’t feel passionate.
If you feel a lack of passion at your job, you might want to ask yourself -- “Am I good at my job?” Seriously, answer this question as honestly as you can. Some jobs grow on you over time. Proficiency may be the key to unlocking passion at work.
Then again, it might not be. It could very well be the case that you are good at your job but also dispassionate about it. If that’s the case, examine the underlying cause. Is it that A) you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing? If so, the solution is simple: Find a job you are passionate about that also earns you money.
Or is it that B) you may have been passionate about work, but realized there are too many deal-breakers? If so, can you fix any of them? If you can’t, it’s time to move on.
2. You aren’t challenging yourself.
When it comes down to it, work is a lot like a relationship. And one of the biggest deal-breakers in both relationships and business is boredom.
There’s nothing wrong with being bored once in awhile -- that’s totally normal. But when you find yourself looking for reasons to leave your desk or consciously finding ways to kill time whenever your manager isn’t looking, that’s a red flag.
This applies even if you’re busy and have your nose to the grindstone. Being busy doesn’t mean you won’t be bored. In other words, challenging work isn’t the same as interesting work. For example, can you imagine being at college every day of your life until you retire? What about high school? Life is about learning, improving and changing -- not stagnating.
3. You don’t get along with your colleagues.
Have you ever felt like your coworkers dislike you for no reason? Because they just might.
Work can be one of the most hostile environments in the world if the culture is bad. Whether they’re actively talking over you during meetings, ignoring you in the office or forming cliques that don’t include you, a petty workplace can and will drag you down. Some people relish high school-esque drama. If you’re a normal, decent human being, you probably don’t.
If you work in a hostile environment, you have two choices. You can either confront and deal with your problematic coworkers, or you can leave. If the culture is broken and you aren’t in a place of power to fix it, accept that you can’t -- and move on. Whatever you do, don’t assimilate into that culture -- that will do far more harm than good.
4. You don’t feel optimistic about your career.
You can have a decent salary, pleasant coworkers and a job you like reasonably well. Yet, oddly enough, you don’t feel a sense of security, progress or hope in your career.
Maybe you’re working more but earning the same. Or maybe you’ve already seen what’s at the top of the ladder -- but didn’t particularly like the view. Whatever the case, you need to be able to see an optimistic future to keep going strong.
Stop telling yourself things will get better, and don’t let a scarcity mentality make you afraid to leave. Instead, accept that you’re stuck in an unfulfilling relationship you don’t really want to be in, simply because it isn’t toxic. Not yet, at least.
5. You’re meant for more.
It may be that none of these problems are your problems. Maybe you just suck at your job, and you aren’t sure why. Or perhaps you’ve never been such a poor employee in your current role. It could be because you aren’t aiming high enough.
If decades of human resources wisdom have taught us anything, it’s that star employees aren’t always management material -- and that management material won’t always be found among the star employees.
So don’t put yourself down. If you haven’t been doing great at work, it may not be because you aren’t smart, disciplined and reliable. It may be that you need to make your own way instead. What that means is up to you.
Related: How to Reinvent Yourself