Let’s talk about leaving your job and how to make sure that you’re looking at both the good and bad of a potential job that you’re not putting a new opportunity on a pedestal.

Have you actually tried to make a change if you’re not happy in your current job? A lot of times what I hear from my friends and my clients is, “oh, I just hate my job. I’ve been unhappy for years.”

And my first question is always, “well, what have you done to make yourself happy in your job?”

This is a lot like a relationship. If you’re unhappy in your relationship with your boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, spouse, wife, husband… it doesn’t matter who you’re unhappy with, it does no good to just sit there and say I’m unhappy and not make any change.

So much like in a relationship, in your job you’re responsible for your own happiness. What have you done in your job to try and make it something that you enjoy?

A lot of times that question is really foreign to a lot of people. So I want to give you some tips.

First and foremost, I would suggest that you really try and strengthen your relationships at work. That alone can make you happy in a position that you otherwise weren’t happy in. One of the things that strengthening a relationship does is it creates a safer space for you to talk to your manager, your boss, your supervisor (whatever it may be) about being unhappy. Now here’s the really critical part about having a conversation about fixing something that makes you unhappy in your job: you have to come with solutions and those solutions have to be practical for the business, not for you.

So if I am unhappy with a certain project that I need to work on, but I’m the only person in the company that has the skillset to manage that project…or my job is a project manager, I need to be very thoughtful about how I approach that conversation.

The more detailed you can get about what you don’t like now, the more clear you can be in the future. Consider what pieces of a particular project you don’t like vs. exclaiming that you hate the entire project all together. Are there specific pieces or people you enjoy working with?

An example of what this might look like may be:

Perhaps you really love being the project manager for this project to build out a new location. However, you’re finding that the company doesn’t have great oversight into the budget. To resolve that issue, you might ask if there is someone else that could be added to the project team so that you can focus on the job of managing timelines and all the moving parts. This is a win for you as you get to keep focused on the tasks you’re talented at and enjoy doing while another person is given the chance to be on the project who might not have otherwise been there.

The other way that you can tackle unhappiness is to look for things that make you happy and supplement those. So can you get a stretch assignment? Is there an employee resource group or affinity group that you have a lot of passion for? Can you get involved with that? Can you leverage professional development to add a new skill set that might allow you to work on new projects or new types of projects or have more oversight in your current role?Is there tuition reimbursement? Can you go back to school and learn a new skill set that you can bring back to the company and advance yourself? Are there other ways that you can look at lateral transfers? Are there ways that you can just talk to your boss about new opportunities and what they see for you?

The most important part of this is that you have to be honest with yourself and you have to really try. I find that those are two things that people don’t love to do.

Are you unhappy in your job because you checked out? Or maybe are you unhappy in your job because you don’t have this resources and the skills to really succeed? Sometimes those questions are actually really hard for us to answer because they feel personal.

You’ve heard me preach a million times it’s business. It’s not personal. So sit down, look at why you’re unhappy, make a really fair analysis and assessment of the things that you have control over that you could start to change to see if you can make yourself happy.

If you don’t have control over those things, then start to have that conversation with your manager about opportunities that might exist or might be able to be created that could help you be happy in your current role.

If you’ve tried all that and it doesn’t work. It’s time to move on. It’s time to find something that makes you happy… but don’t just go jumping ship because you think the grass is greener. That is often NOT the case.

So do the work for yourself. See if there’s ways that you can make yourself happy.