• Brad B. Miller

Why you will never be happy at your job

How do you paint yourself?

“I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to stand coming to work here,” she confided in me. This mid-level HR executive at a fairly reputable company was in the same situation as most people in the workforce. She wasn’t happy. She assumed there was something better available, and her resume was substantial enough that she figured she could get a job anywhere.

But still she stayed. Day after day, she continued her daily trek across town for 45 minutes one way to do something she wasn’t happy doing.

Most people are unhappy at work

The statistic is staggering to think about, but over half of all Americans are less than satisfied with their current job. What this means is that around 76 million people view their job as something just to help them get by, rather than something they do because they enjoy doing it.

Are you, perhaps, in that same category?

Why people are unhappy at their job

The reason most people are unhappy at work is because they don’t enjoy the thought of doing what they are doing for the rest of their lives. They hope for something better, something more. Many who are working a low-wage job, hope for a better salary. But even among those who make more than enough to meet their needs, there is discontent.

People are unhappy at their jobs because they tell themselves that they should be unhappy. Now I know that I will likely get plenty of people who have legitimate reasons for hating their jobs. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t also telling themselves the secret rule that they need to be unhappy.

The rules we tell ourselves

We tell ourselves these things all the time. We think there are these unwritten rules the define reality. These rules could be simple or elaborate, but we all have them. Jon Acuff calls them the Secret Rules because they are, well, secret. We don’t know that we believe them until we see ourselves starting to act according to those rules.

These rules could be things like, “I have to sell my soul in order to be successful at work” and “I would have to work more than 60 hours a week and ignore my family if I want to be promoted.”

If you tell yourself these secret rules, soon enough you will start to believe them – even if you don't realize it. No matter how hard you try, so long as these secret rules are a part of you, you will never be able to get past them.

How can you overcome these secret rules?

If you want to get over this feeling of unhappiness, you need to identify your secret rules. Start with a goal - "I want to make a million dollars." And then start listing out all of the reasons why that goal won't happen. It could be because you don't make enough money. It could be because you have debt up to your eyeballs. List all of these reasons out.

Then ask yourself - "Why?"

Why don't I make enough? Why do I have debt? Why can't I get promoted?

Once you've asked yourself these questions, write down your answers. And then ask yourself why again.

Why do I keep buying things I don't need on credit? Why does my boss hate me? And so on and so forth.

Then ask yourself why again. And then again. And then again.

Do this at least 5 times – though you may have to do closer to 10 passes at this question. As you do, you will start to realize some of the myths or secret rules you tell yourself. You'll realize that happiness doesn't come from doing more, having more, being more – but rather the opposite. It comes from doing less and having more free time. It comes from having less and worrying about your things less. It comes from being less than perfect and recognizing that you are just fine the way you are.

We can all improve. We can all grow. But until we start to realize that our own self-imposed restrictions are what are keeping us back, we will never be happy.


© 2018 by Brad B. Miller