05/07/2014 12:45 EDT | Updated 07/07/2014 05:59 EDT

Think You're Unhappy Because of Your Job? Don't Quit Just Yet

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It can be easy to place too much of your unhappiness on your job. When you spend eight-plus hours a day there, likely more than you spend doing anything else on a given weekday, it's no wonder that work carries so much weight on how satisfied you feel in life. If you are feeling unfulfilled you can too quickly turn to your job and say -- that's what's wrong, that is what needs to change for me to be happy.

Sometimes you will go through events in life, like a break-up, that make you want to shake things up, to evoke change in all areas, when really you are just feeling upset in that place. Or, other times you may look at your friends and the success they've had in their lives and wonder why you haven't made similar gains. They seem to be progressing, shouldn't you be too? Even if you were OK with your job situation up until now, all of the sudden you think it's not good enough or your attempts to move up aren't happening fast enough, and you think it must be time to move on.

There are many articles out there telling you it's time to quit your job, but maybe you shouldn't be so quick to jump ship. Maybe you should look deeper at what is causing your dissatisfaction. Because your job is only ONE area of your life that creates happiness and it's important to look at your life as a whole before placing too much blame on any one aspect of it. I read a quote recently, "Ride your horse in the direction it's going," which I took to mean, if your life has placed you where you are today then perhaps you should try to make the most of THAT situation before trying to change it.

Here are seven ways to make the most of the job you have and see more clearly the role it plays in your life happiness as a whole:

Seeing a commitment through builds a solid foundation from which to leap to your next position. It's about taking ownership of the choices you make. Grounding yourself with hard work and dedication to the role you took on. You know that feeling you get when you have a tough assignment to do or even big chores around the house you'd rather avoid? Once you finish the job there is a HUGE feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. It comes from facing challenges in life and overcoming them and it leaves you hungry for more. These are the times when we grow the most and learn the most.

Do the best you can with what you have. Because no matter how this ends you will be proud of your efforts. I believe we all have an obligation to do our best in any given situation. It's about being true to yourself, and I don't think there's ever a downside to knowing you tried your best. You often hear this advice for relationships as well as career, be a good person, be the most loving partner you can be and if the relationship doesn't work out, you can't fault yourself for not trying. So when it comes to your job, use this time to learn new skills or refine existing abilities, become a stronger team player. It's about doing the work and doing it better each time.

Remember that you arrived here for a reason. There are lessons to be learned with every experience and I think that if there are reoccurring themes in your life, it might be because the lesson needs repeating. I know not everyone believes that things happen for a reason but I do! I think we arrive at the place we're at today because of what we did before. So if you want to go to a better place next, pay attention to where you are now and what you can learn from it.

Working hard and a good attitude can be the best way to get noticed. I find some of the best workers are the ones who have a good positive attitude. They are the ones who get the most opportunities given to them. It's not just always about standing out in a crowd, but doing good work, being positive and seeing the glass half full not half empty is key. Ann Landers once said, "Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them." Think of it like digging in a garden (with a smile on your face). You're planting the seeds today that you want to see blossom tomorrow. Not every period of your life is about rewards. Even in nature there is the time to reap and the time to sow.

You can't run away from yourself. You'll likely face the same problems at your next job if you don't look within for the solutions. I think this can be a lot like relationships too. Say you often have issues with your partner because you have low self-esteem. Chances are, you will continue to experience those same issues with all your partners until you address the problem in yourself. When it comes to work, if you constantly find yourself struggling with certain aspects of your role, ask yourself if maybe the issue is more about how you work than the work you are doing? Learn your strengths, but also your weaknesses, before you take them with you to the next role and repeat the same cycle. Knowing what your weaknesses are is the first step to strengthening them.

Sometimes doors take longer to open than expected. If you leave too soon, you may miss them. So take advantage of what your current job offers. Are there any courses your company offers, or designations you could obtain? Communicate with your team lead. Perhaps you want to take the initiative on a new project at work? Maybe all you need to do is ask. Remember that people aren't mind readers :)

Colour in the edges of your job with a life that makes you happy. I truly believe you shouldn't rely on your career alone to fulfill you. Yes, it's important to like what you do and to feel satisfied by your work, but there is immense satisfaction that can come from what your work leaves you free to do. It pays your bills so you don't have to worry, it introduces you to people that might become your best friends, it opens the door to new learning opportunities and in your 'off' time you can fill your life with all sorts of fun activities! "Happiness is not readymade, it comes from your own actions" as the Dalai Lama says. So take a poetry class, join a softball team, sign up for cooking lessons. I bet your job will not seem as stressful or as unsatisfying as you think once you start balancing your focus!

When you are feeling blue, do you have the instinct to want to quit your job? How do you keep a balanced outlook? Have you ever been stuck in a situation in work or life that was challenging but paid off in spades? I'd love to hear your stories!




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