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How to Keep a Positive Attitude When You’re Dissatisfied with Your Job
Five Realistic Methods for Developing a Positive Attitude
Whether your natural outlook on life is “half-empty” or “half-full,” developing and maintaining a positive attitude can be challenging. Doing so when you hate your job and finding another is not an option can feel like a nightmare. So, what can you do? Is it possible to stay positive when your job is a negative experience?
Identifying what exactly it is that you find dissatisfying about your job can help you customize your coping strategies.
Reasons for Job Dissatisfaction
“Bad Boss”: the person you report to, including your boss’s boss, who consistently disrespects, belittles, or harasses you. Their habits include not listening, taking credit for your work, not giving credit or recognition for your hard work, name-calling or yelling, blaming you for their mistakes, etc.
“Annoying Colleagues”: similar to the bad-boss definition of disrespect, belittling and harassment, but may also include humiliation, gossiping, sabotaging, and other negative behaviors towards you.
“Boring Work”: you’ve learned and mastered all aspects of doing your job. It is now monotonous, uninteresting and seemingly never ending. Unchallenging work can also lead to increasing burnout.
“Increasing Burnout”: you have been at your job long enough for you to do it in your sleep, blind-folded, one hand tied behind your back... and yet, instead of getting easier, it seems to get harder and harder to complete each day. You struggle to remember why you even took the job in the first place.
“Under-valued & Over-worked”: you receive little or no recognition for your work. Your work load is doubled or tripled with no compensation increases, but the expectation is that you will get the job done in the same amount of time (no overtime, of course). This is frequently seen in organizations that have down-sized, usually with massive layoffs.
“Unreasonable Customers/Client”: they are demanding, demeaning and have a sense of entitlement. They talk to you as if you are their personal servant and not someone who has other customers to care for. And even if you do manage to come through for them, no words of appreciation are forth coming because, in their mind, it was your fault to begin with.
Once you have pinpointed the areas that are making you dissatisfied with your job, you can choose and apply the coping strategies that fit best.
Developing & Maintaining a Positive Attitude
What does it mean to have a positive attitude? Our attitudes influence how we think, feel, behave and respond to situations. They are developed based on the experiences, assumptions and judgments we’ve made during our lifetime. If a situation turns out as well as we believe it should, we typically have a positive attitude. However, if the situation turns out badly, with disappointing results, then a negative attitude may prevail.
Our attitudes in one situation, positive or negative, can sets the stage for how we handle the next situation. Even if the situations are not related, or even similar, the previous attitude rules. For example, the attitude: “I had a bad day at work, I’ll probably have a bad commute home” often results in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
However, there is good news. We have the power to change our attitude. The following are five realistic ways you can promote a more positive attitude towards your job and life:
Look at the Big Picture
The day to day reality of your job may be undesirable, but where you are now is not necessarily where you’ll be in the future. Take charge of your journey and put a positive perspective on your current work situation. Focusing on what your job allows you to do for yourself and your family can help you stay positive as you look for an opportunity to change. Remember, your life is more than your job.
- Ask yourself: Why am I working? What does this job provide for me and my family? What will be the pay-offs by sticking with this job? What would happen if I quit or was laid-off today? What have I invested in this job?
- Define your vision of the future (or at least for your desired job).
- Identify the impact of your current job has to your future vision.
- Understand you are not alone and decisions you make will affect others.
View Your Job as a Stepping Stone
Your current job may not be your desired job but you may be able to glean new skills, knowledge, or experiences that could make way for the job you want. Start by mapping out your ideal job or career.
Your current job may be a detour on your journey to your desired job. Therefore, make the best of it by analyzing the skills and knowledge you are currently using that you will take with you to your ideal job. Take advantage of any training programs offered by your company that will enhance your skills for your future career.
Know Your Triggers
Identify the triggers that set you off and replace or avoid them. Triggers that may lead to negative attitudes include certain types of words, people, situations, music, etc. Where possible replace your negative triggers with positive ones.
Normally we would avoid people who are negative triggers, but that isn’t realistic if the culprit is a coworker or boss. You might, however, be able to minimize the amount of time spent with him or her. Also, build a support group. Developing relationships with persons with positive attitudes can help balance out the negative people you must deal with daily.
Make a conscious effort to replace negative words or phrases from your thoughts and speech. Replace “I can’t” with “I can” and go into action.
Implement Symbolic Rituals
Start doing exercises on a regular basis that will promote the development of a positive attitude in your life.
- Keep a diary or journal in a loose-leaf notebook, record all your negative feelings for the day, then burn it and let go. IMPORTANT NOTE: never record negative thoughts or feelings on-line or via email, it will come back to haunt you someday.
- Do something physical during your breaks or lunch time. Go for a walk and think positive thoughts.
- Listen to inspiring music while working (if allowed).
- Begin each day with a positive or inspiring thought for the day.
- Do something unexpectedly nice for your boss or co-worker (that will keep them wondering!).
Eat an Elephant
How do you eat an elephant? You break it up into small pieces! Set attainable and realistic small goals to change your current job situation. Reaching your desired job or career may seem daunting, but, when you plan small steps to take each day, you will discover the journey is not as difficult as you thought.
Establish long-range goals and then break it down into short-range goals. Each short-range goal gets you one step further to your long-range goal; in this case your desired job. This might mean getting a degree, certificate, etc., requiring you to take evening or on-line classes. No matter what steps you need to take, a little research will reveal many options that will fit your current situation.
What have you got to lose?
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained” goes the adage. If you are dissatisfied with your current job or are experiencing negativity in your life, experiment with applying one or more of the five methods for developing a more positive viewpoint. You might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. After all, what have you got to lose?