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Here's What Successful People Do When They're Feeling Unhappy at Work (Hint: It's Not 'Stick It Out')

© Getty Images   indecisive and lost man chooses the right path

By Laura Garnett, Inc.

Move from burnout to inspiration.

We all have days at work when nothing goes right. Usually, we shrug it off and hope that tomorrow is better. 

However, when those days start blending together, and you notice your energy for work dwindling week after week, you may start realizing that it's not just an "off" month--you're unhappy at work

This isn't uncommon. In fact, according to Gallup's most recent engagement survey, only 34 percent of Americans are engaged with their work--which means 66 percent aren't. Furthermore, of that 66 percent, 13 percent are actively disengaged, meaning they openly show and express their displeasure at work (which is pretty toxic for themselves and anyone around them). 

The question is then, what should we do when we feel a dip in engagement at work? Successful people, those who love their work and have careers that are continually moving in a positive direction, take this kind of situation seriously. They take action.

© Fuse/Getty Images   Woman in Office Cubicle Daydreaming

And you can, too. Here are four steps you can take when you start feeling this way. They'll help ensure you aren't stuck in a rut for too long.


Step 1: Start Tracking

When you feel inklings of dissatisfaction, you may be tempted to ignore them, to believe they aren't a big deal and will likely wane on their own. But the truth is, we often don't realize how pervasive tough situations at work can really be. That's why we need data.

Feel free to download my Performance tracker, a tool that's like a Fitbit for your work performance. Within a few weeks of filling it out, you'll have the data you need to understand your feelings and diagnose them accurately.

Step 2: Analyze the Data

It's easy to blame your negative feelings on other people or on external factors. And perhaps your feelings are associated with your manager, your colleagues, or the organization itself. 

But you also want to make sure you rule out confidence issues or internal emotional baggage that needs to be resolved before you start changing your environment or the people around you. In many cases, there's a bit of internal work you can do that'll help you make your next move with confidence. Get to the root cause before taking action.


Step 3: Be Confident and Fearless

If you diagnose the situation and conclude that your job, colleagues, or organization aren't the right fit for who you are, be confident about that realization. You may be tempted to conform to the group--even when it isn't the right one for you. Resist that temptation. If you realize you have to move on, be excited, fearless, and clear that this has nothing to do with your value. It's just time to move on to an opportunity that's more aligned with who you are.

Or, maybe you realize that you're actually in the right place and simply need to be more proactive about creating opportunities that fits your personality and strengths. Either way, go to the next step.

Step 4: Create a Plan

Whether it's for looking for new opportunities or re-thinking your approach to your existing job, it's time to take action. As you develop and implement your plan, continue to fill out the performance tracker.

The reality is, you have more power than you know. The business world is (finally!) embracing job hopping, and great companies want their people to be proactive with their careers and performance. Being successful isn't about waiting around for something to happen--it's about taking the steps you need to move forward. You have to be an advocate for yourself and constantly look for projects, opportunities, and jobs that are a great fit for who you are.

Once you're comfortable with the above steps, you'll see that being happy at work isn't something that should be left to luck. You must take strategic action. Before long, the feeling of unhappiness will be something you pay attention to and work to change, not something you just accept and endure.

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