The Habit of Unhappiness

unhappy at workAn article I read recently stated that stated voluntary job change is at its highest level since 2008. Obviously there are a lot of people who are still looking for work who don’t currently have jobs, and there’s no shortage of horror stories about lack of opportunities, bait-and-switch tactics from employers, job postings that disappear halfway through the hiring process, lowball offers, the abundance of 1099 jobs vs. direct hires, the frustrations of working with a 3rd-party staffing agency, and so on (and on and on). In spite of this, there seem to be a lot of people who believe that the grass is actually greener on the other side of the fence.

You could reasonably argue that most of the usual job thrash since 2008 has been dampened down by the economy, and that anyone who was lucky enough to keep their job was going to stay put until conditions improved (as, arguably, they appear to be doing). Why do people leave their perfectly good jobs for new ones? Generally speaking:

  • more money /better compensation package
  • promotion
  • better geographic location
  • getting away from a failing company
  • better fit for education/skills/career goals
  • getting away from a bad boss, unpleasant coworkers, or other work situation
  • lack of appreciation
  • desire for new challenges/boredom
  • habit.

OK, so this last one actually isn’t on any list that I could find. But I’ve been wondering lately how much of the widespread career discontent I’ve seen lately is restlessness or habit, rather than an actual desire for change.

In the classic self-help book Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz states, “To a large extent we react to petty annoyances, frustrations, and the like with grumpiness, dissatisfaction, resentment and irritability, purely out of habit. We have practiced reacting that way for so long, it has become habitual. Much of this habitual unhappiness-reaction originated because of some event which we interpreted as a blow to our self-esteem.”

Think about this in terms of your career, if you’re considering a change. Are you generalizing everyday events and building up a perception of unhappiness? Do you understand the root cause of your professional unhappiness, so that you can avoid jumping into the same situation at your next job? Are things truly as bad as you think? Will they be improved through a career change?

Here are 7 Common Habits of Unhappy People from The Positivity Blog:

  1.  Aiming for perfection
  2. Living in a sea of negative voices
  3. Getting stuck in the past or future too much
  4. Comparing yourself and your life to others and their lives
  5. Focusing on the negative details in life
  6. Limiting life because you believe the world revolves around you
  7. Overcomplicating life

Do any of these habits show up in your professional life? Do you need a career change – or a perspective change?


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