“Do I Hate My Job Or Just Feel Stuck?” How To Be Happy Either Way

Why It Matters, How To Tell Which, & What To Do To Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain, And Learn To Work For Happiness No Matter What

If you’re wondering how to be happy, you’re not alone. Get your free life assessment to start your personal journey towards finding a purpose and learning how to be happy in every aspect of your life. Or keep reading to learn about how feeling stuck or being stuck in a job you hate gets in the way of finding your passions. Find out how to break free and be happier at work and in life!

A Lot Of People Worry About How To Be Happy

Finding your purpose, deciding what you want to do in life, getting a job doing it, and making enough money to be comfortable (and retire) by following your passions has never been easy. That said, recent research suggests that doing those things is getting even harder, and more working-age people report feeling stuck in life, hopeless, and/or overwhelmed by figuring out how to be happy than ever.

The fact is, nearly 70% of people feel directionless and trapped by unfulfilling routines. 40% worry that what they’re doing with their life isn’t worthwhile and won’t enable them to be happy in the future. 32% regret their education, profession, or employer choices, feeling that they can’t be happy because of them.

The thing is, feeling stuck — purposeless, anxious, and/or regretful — is more than just a symptom of unhappy conditions; it’s a major barrier to building your best life. That’s why, in an era of increasing career anxiety and decreasing job/financial security, it’s more important than ever to learn to work for happiness.

Why Do We Feel Stuck?

Feeling “stuck” is feeling like you don’t have the ability to do anything different, and that no matter what you do you’ll never be happy with it.

When it comes to what makes us most unhappy, most of us report that career-related stress plays an outsize role. That’s true whether you’re a stay-at-home parent; are working an entry-level, part-time, and/or minimum-wage job; are in college, grad school, doing your residency; or have landed a full-time position in the industry/with the company you wanted. Feeling stuck most often comes from feeling career, job, and financial insecurity.

What’s more, there’s a growing body of evidence that feeling stuck is most often the result of feeling defective. It’s less to do with your reality (though they can, and do, contribute) and more because you’re trying to hide or compensate for self-perceived flaws and are afraid to make mistakes that might expose them.

There’s a lot to unpack there (like a whole article), but if we accept it as true, it means that feeling stuck isn’t the same as being stuck. It points to feeling stuck being a limiting mindset, because you can’t grow or change without risking failure, being vulnerable, and learning to train your mind to acknowledge and build strength from imperfections. Moreover, it suggests that being stuck is probably less real than it feels; you have more opportunities to be happy than you realize.

What Is Feeling Stuck Doing To Us?

There’s solid proof all around us that your mindset has the ability to improve or reduce your quality of life, but nowhere is it clearer than in how the millennial generation has changed in the workplace.

Millennials, now well into adulthood (aged 24-39 in 2020) and representing the largest age group in the global workforce, have earned a new nickname. We used to be “work martyrs” (seriously), but now our collective sense of feeling stuck has turned us into the “burnout generation.” The reality of what that means is dark:

  • 75% of people believe on-the-job stress is greater than it was a generation ago;
  • 65% of workers experience difficulties at home because of their on-the-job stress;
  • 60% of employee absences can be linked to the psychological effects of stress;
  • 50% of Millennials and 75% of Gen Zers have quit a job because of the impact it had on their mental health; and
  • Job insecurity, financial insecurity, and overall unhappiness at work are leading to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and burnout than we’ve seen in past generations.

“Do I Hate My Job?” May Not Be The Right Question

The average person spends about one-third of their adult life working, and what you can (and can’t) do in the other two-thirds often depends on your professional life. Plus, many people tie up their sense of self and value in their at-work accomplishments, so feeling stuck at work nearly always means feeling stuck in life at large. It’s not surprising, then, that a major part of finding happiness in life for most people has to do with figuring out specifically how to be happy at work.

But there’s a difference between feeling stuck and feeling I hate my job.

Statistically speaking, about two-thirds of people feel disengaged from their work. Some folks take that to mean that most employees hate working. But conflating “I don’t feel passionate about or driven to do my job” with “I hate my job” is oversimplifying things a little, and — coupled with that job-related sense of self/value mentioned earlier — it’s creating a kind of identity crisis among millennial and gen Z workers. There’s a huge number of folks out there asking the internet “do I hate my job or am I just lazy?” and “is it normal to actually like your job?” when better questions might be “why don’t I feel more excited about my job?” and “what would it take for me to be happier at work?”

Reset Your Mindset To Be Happy At Work Whether You Hate It Or Just Feel Stuck

The best advice for how to be happy at work hinges on adopting a happiness mindset, which is a kind of amalgam of different attitudes (like being growth-oriented. positive, and grateful, seeking self-improvement, and prioritizing human connections over validation). And “mindset” is more than just a buzzword — it’s a way to train your mind, change your brain, and legitimately form new habits and neural pathways that make you more resilient, confident, and happy.

Changing your mindset can do more than just change how you feel about work, because people who find ways to be happy at work are actually more successful and productive in the workplace. And the steps to train your mind, changing your brain’s reactions to your work are actually pretty simple: work to recognize when you’re viewing something with a negative bias, interrupt the negative reaction with gratitude or positivity, then stick with that feeling of positivity, gratitude, or hope for 15 seconds. Taking this process one step further, some of the most effective steps for how to be happy at work involve beginning and ending the day with that kind of 15-second mindset moment.

If the answers to those last two questions are bleak — the work you’re doing opposes what you believe is right and valuable; literally nothing could make you be happier at work — then your course forward is a little different than if you’re just feeling stuck. Your first steps for how to be happy will involve adopting a change- and growth-focused mindset. That’s because you’re likely to find yourself among the portion of the population who needs to find a different job in order to be happier at work (and that’s ok!). When you adopt a change- and growth-focused mindset, you’re more likely to (1) pursue self-improvement, and (2) recognize (and be grateful for) how your current position will act as a stepping-stone for you to get where you want to be.

Even if you end up needing to pivot into a new career to pursue your passions, the skills and experience you gain in any job are never without value. [Not sure how to begin finding your passions in life? Contact us today to get started!]

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