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5 ways to be happier at work

happier work total balance

There’s nothing quite as disheartening as dragging yourself out of bed on a Monday morning to head into a workplace that makes you miserable. One of the most difficult things is keeping yourself in the right frame of mind while you try to either turn things around or begin your search for a new role.

Here are some practical tips to try.

1. Do a reality check

Sometimes we need to step back and look at our roles objectively. Rate your happiness at work by giving yourself a score out of 10 (with 10/10 being completely happy). If your score is lower than 5, it might be time to consider whether your role is right for you.

Then take some time to reflect on the elements that are affecting your happiness. What are the things that are making you most unhappy? What’s your organisation’s culture like? Is the role itself right for you? Is your manager supportive? Do you have friends at work? Are there still things that you love about your role?

If you can think of solutions to any of the problems, make a time to speak to your manager about what can be changed. If your situation feels impossible, maybe it’s time to start looking for a new role or making a significant career change.

2. Watch for the downward spiral

Unhappiness at work often leads to excessive negative thinking, which can lead to a lack of motivation, which usually means you perform less effectively in your role. Then your self-confidence takes a hit. And so the cycle continues (and invariably escalates).

There are a couple of things you can do to break the negative spiral.

Balance negative thinking with some positive thought by taking five minutes at the end of every day to write down three things that went well today and why. The key here is to bring your focus back to your strengths and have you focusing on what is going well, rather than exaggerating negative thinking.

Perform your role to the best of your ability, despite what’s going on around you. At the beginning of each day, plan how you’ll spend your day. Break your tasks into manageable action steps and start on one important task as soon as you arrive so you’re less inclined to spend the day procrastinating.

Get out of the office during the day. Regardless of how busy you are, make sure you get away from your desk. Ideally, have lunch in an environment that energises you like a park or cafe.

3. Give up self-sabotage

When things aren’t going well at work and your mood is flat, you’re more likely to self-sabotage in other areas of your life. You might exercise less or find yourself eating comfort food or drinking three glasses of wine every night. You might withdraw from friends or avoid doing practical things like updating your resume.

Double your efforts to take care of your wellbeing and put some measures in place that make it easier to stay connected. Walk with a friend, meal plan at the beginning of the week so that there’s healthy food in the house, ask for help getting your resume up to date.

4. Accept the things you cannot change


tweetsmThere’s a great sense of peace when you’re able to be with the way things are. (click to tweet)


Acceptance doesn’t mean passively sitting back and doing nothing but rather, creating realistic expectations that will help you to make an informed and educated decision about whether you stay in your role or leave.

Ultimately, we all want to be happy at work. If changing roles isn’t possible, learn about how mindfulness can help.

5. Change your routine

Do something new and interesting to bring a bit of spark back into your week. Find a new interest, explore new places, change the structure of your weekends. Studies show that by changing our habits we open up our ability to think more creatively which means we’re better problem solvers in all areas of our lives.

The added benefit is that when your life feels a little more balanced, your mood will lift enough to give you the energy to do what it takes to find a role that will really make you happy.

We would be delighted for you to reproduce our articles as long as they remain intact and contain the author’s details as follows: ‘Kate James is a coach and mindfulness teacher and the creator of the Life Purpose Programs. She works with people who want to live confident, creative lives. Kate can be contacted at totalbalance.com.au.’

Posted in: Career
Kate James

I'm Kate James and the owner of Total Balance. I work with people who care about living purposeful, creative lives. My clients want to clarify their personal values, identify their strengths and learn about how they can make a difference in the world in their own unique way.

I run workshops and retreats in Melbourne and Byron Bay to give you the chance to escape the noise of everyday to discover what really matters to you.