Signs Your Job Is Hurting Your Happiness

Career Blog

Our behaviors are often the window to our happiness. The trouble is many involve the internal dialogue we allow to run on loop. When you consistently replay, rehearse, and revisit unhealthy work issues on your off time, it can be a sign that your happiness and engagement are in freefall. Specifically, be on the lookout for these three behaviors:

  1. You “Replay” Arguments: Conflict is a healthy part of team dynamics, but work debates should attack issues and problems, not people. Endlessly rehashing coworker conflicts on your off time, is not only a sign of unhappiness, but also an indicator that you feel unheard and even unsafe.
  2. You “Rehearse” Contributions: It’s smart to review notes and polish your opening for a big presentation, but it’s a red flag if you feel the need to endlessly prepare for small interactions and standard staff meetings. It’s hard to be happy if you are made to second guess your contributions.
  3. You “Revisit” Mistakes: Experience is often the best teacher and it’s healthy to draw lessons from our blunders. But there is a difference between performing a project postmortem and beating yourself up over imaginary missteps.

Of course other happiness indicators are not so subtle. The biggest one is time and how you spend it both on and off the clock. Be on the lookout for these two signs:

  1. You Have Free Time: Work/life balance is different for everyone, but even the hardest charging employees need to unplug. If your day job doesn’t allow you enough free time to recharge, expect your happiness to dwindle.
  2. You Control Work Time: Yes every job comes with elements we don’t enjoy, but happiness will increase if you have some control over how, when, or where you work. For some that means control over the schedule. For others it means control over work content. It means different things to different people, but no control usually means unhappiness.  

Finding the Fix

For items 1-3 do a self-check to determine how much of the replay-rehearse-revisit behavior is acceptable and due to your personality. Introverts and those who are naturally self-critical might rehearse and revisit more than others. Then check that baseline against your current behavior. If the gap is wider than your baseline behavior, you likely have an issue. 

You can discuss items 4 and 5 with your manager and look for ways to align responsibilities to better suit your needs. If you’re a high performing employee, savvy managers who are concerned about retention, will be open to the conversation.

In the end happiness is often a choice. If you want more of it, take actions to modify your behavior at work or look for a more supportive environment. 

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

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