Have you ever felt unhappy at work? Felt like you were being underutilized? Felt like nobody was listening or supporting you? Felt bored? Have you ever had a friend that was notorious about doing nothing but complaining about work?
There are many parts of our first job that are out of our control. The timing and pool of skills might play a role in getting the job you want. The current demands of your company can all play a role to get a steady revenue. Your work might ebb and flow depending on the demand of your client or the market. It might be your dream job or it might be far from it. Regardless, it’s not always easy for many to immediately find gratification where they start.
What we can control, however, is our attitude and how we derive meaning from even the worst circumstances. It’s easy to advise that someone should just be optimistic or maintain an open mind but it often takes a bit more reflection than that. It’s no secret that when your work and direction is meaningful and clear, you will be more innovative, productive, and happier at work and in life.
To take action and optimize, we first have to ask the hard questions: Why am I feeling this way? What exactly has gone wrong? We have to understand where we might be feeling lost.
Consider the following questions:
Do you feel underutilized? Determine Opportunities and Ask. Do you feel like you're doing nothing all the time and it's driving you crazy? Is there an area of the job where you can get more autonomy, responsibility or decision making power? The opportunities may be all over the place without you realizing it. Many managers fill out financial inputs or weekly summaries and reports. Are there any additional reports you can take priority on? Do any team members have ad-hoc tasks that can be expedited with your help? Is there any way you can study the company internally and externally and see if there are any gaps where you can lead solutions? Develop a proposal for an application to solve a efficiency problem? If being underutilized is a disappointment, strive for more. It’s easy to wallow but there is also a risk in being too complacent. As Michelangelo said, “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”
Do you feel alone? Network. Are you making the most of your relationship building? Do you have anyone who you feel you’re not getting along with? Consider connecting with team members on social media. Take team members out to lunch and get to know them on a personal level. Pick their brain. At the worst, it reflects effort. At the best, it could make you more comfortable and foster trust in your office.
Do you feel you’re learning enough? Explore Technology. Are you learning the technology you want? Do you notice technology gaps in your company's daily activities that you could fill by self-teaching yourself a new program or learning some new Excel tricks? Will your team pay you to learn new technology? Never be afraid to ask. If you can provide the value, teams will sometimes be more than willing to invest in you if it simultaneously gets them a return.
Do you feel regretful? Set Reminders. Constantly remind yourself why you joined your company in the first place. What made you fall in love with your company? What do you want to gain? Where do you want to be within the company? What do you enjoy so much about being an employee that you can’t get at any other company? It helps to write some of this information down so that you can set yourself a perk for the rough times. As Nietzsche once said, "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."
Allowing yourself to re-asses will not only provide you with a new mindset and perspective to continue your best efforts but give you motivation to succeed in your role and contribute to a greater atmosphere within your project. If you are really struggling and need a way out, that's always an option but one that could come with bigger ramifications. At the end of the day, your destiny revolves around your circumstances only as much as you let it.
Kushaan is an IBM Consultant in the federal practice based out of Washington D.C. His interests are rooted in strategy consulting, social causes, and media marketing. He enjoys blogging about life, empowerment, and hacking the corporate environment. If you liked this post, follow him on twitter: @kushaanshah or "Follow" him on Linkedin.