Do you remember when you were offered your first job in HR? Do you remember how happy you were when you got it? Do you still feel the same?
I work with a lot of HR leaders and one thing that often comes up is the challenge of what to do when you fall out of love with the profession. What do you do when your job stops making you happy? Does it even matter?
Yes it matters. You have one life; it’s way too short and precious to spend working in a job or environment that saps your happiness. However, the reality is that a lot of people do stay stuck in that place and we’ve all seen the impact that can have over a prolonged period. It eats away at them, building resentment that resonates through everything that person does inside and outside of work.
I’m not saying you need to quit your job the minute you stop feeling happy. But I do want you to do a quick assessment of where you are and be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling. Consider if there’s anything that needs to change. It’s normal to fall in and out of love with your profession and any job you do is going to come with highs and lows. Just be mindful when any periods of unhappiness start to become prolonged.
It’s been said that it can take 12 weeks to establish a new habit so you could use that as a marker of time. If you’ve been unhappy for more than 12 weeks that’s a pretty clear indicator that you need to take action to shift your thinking. Sometimes you don’t even need to wait 12 weeks for it to be clear that things need to change. If you’re really not sure talk to someone – find a mentor, talk to a trusted friend or get professional counselling. Whatever it is that’s causing you to feel this way, you don’t need to go through it alone.
Take some time to get clear on what makes you happy and do more of it. Look for moments that spark happiness every day and if you use a journal write them down. If you use Pinterest you can set up a ‘happiness’ board and save photos, quotes or images that make you happy. It’s a reminder to do more of what you love and can give you a boost if you’re having a down day.
If you are stuck in a job that is genuinely making you unhappy and it’s been that way for a long time start working on an ‘escape plan’. It’s not going to be healthy for you to stay in a situation that drains you long term. You might still be able to get good results and have an OK career but you’ll do your best work and get better results in a job you love.
Start by getting super clear on your values and the things that are important to you. This includes incorporating things that you know make you happy. Refine this to a point where you have a list of career non-negotiables. Ensure that you have these in mind when you start looking for your next role.
Consider setting up a vision board or even writing a job description for your dream job. Really take some time to get it right and create a role that you know you’d love. Keep it somewhere you can see it and it won’t get lost.
Think about any training courses you go on, the books you read and the people you network with. Does what you are doing move you towards or away from your dream job? Focus your energy on activity that moves you towards it, and where you’re able to disengage from activity or people that move you away from it. Set yourself a 90-day plan broken down into 30-day chunks.
Remember: 12 weeks to establish a new habit. Start your happiness habit now because your happiness matters. Please don’t disregard it or deprive yourself of it. Live your best life.