When people are happy at work, productivity increases. As Steve Jobs stated ‘the only way to do great work is to love what you do’.

I have no doubt that most of us would agree with him, yet how many of us actually love what we do? How many of us get out of bed every morning with a spring in our feet, excited for the day ahead?

Happy at Work

The comfort of being in a job you know

Over the years I have met far too many women and men, in different age groups who are not quite sure how they ended up in their job and feel that too much time has passed for them to make a change. For some, it was their first job out of university and this is really all they know. For others, they feel lucky to be in a strong and reputable company with a good salary and despite being bored by what they do, cannot afford to move. Others still have lost the will to explore and do not feel confident enough to transfer their skill set and experience to another job.

I myself have wondered over the years what inhibits people to change job should they not be happy with their current positions. In fact, for many years I was probably facing the same predicament, yet force majeure had me face up to my terrible insecurities and seek pastures new in industries that were to date unfamiliar.

Challenging our comfort zones

If I were to look back, I would say that I was paralysed by the fear of the unknown. I was insecure about my ability to be able to survive in the private sector after a lifetime in the public sector, intimidated by an industry that was very different to what I was used to. In one word – I felt ashamed. Ashamed that I would fail, ashamed to step out of my comfort zone and confront my greatest fear – that of change. Will I be able to cope with the unfamiliar? What awaits me outside of what I know? Will I miss my colleagues and the camaraderie that we built up? And finally, will miss me?

The last is probably the one I feared most and one that today still makes me reflect. In reality, one realizes relatively quickly that irrespective of how well you did the job and how transformational you were, nobody is irreplaceable and ‘the building will not fall’ if you leave. This is probably the toughest one to come to terms with as it hits at the core of who we are and of our egos.

Reinventing ourselves

Despite this, I have over the years become fully aware of the need for me to reinvent myself and keep learning. There is a wealth of free information out there for us to tap into, yet how many of us actually take the decision to step out of our comfort zone and do anything about it?

How many times do we catch ourselves scrolling down the job vacancies on Keep Me Posted and wondering what it would be like to change career path? How often do we wake up with a sense of dread wishing it was still the middle of the night instead of time to get up and work? Finally, how often do we actually take heed of the way we are feeling and took any action whatsoever?

When were we at our happiest?

In reality, most of us are fully aware of what makes us happy at work. If we look back at our careers, we are all quite quick to identify the period of our lives in which we were happiest at work. This is an easy coaching technique that career coaches use to start a conversation about career and future. ‘Where were you at your happiest? What job were you doing?’

This simple question brings back the emotions of a job you loved and of a time when you were happy at work. Maybe you loved it because you worked with people. Or because you were learning something new every day. Or because your boss treated you like a member of the family. Whatever the reason this question will shake your subconscious. It will trigger a smile and a sense of warmth and nostalgia for that period in your career.

Transforming our feelings into actions

What will it take to rediscover feeling happy at work? Do I have what it takes to actually move out of my current situation and challenge myself in a new job? Nobody but you can answer this question. It takes courage in the first place to admit that you are questioning in this way. This is the first step. Luckily there is much you can do before you actually take the plunge and take a decision to apply for a new position within the same company or outside of your company.

  1. Identify what work you love to do
  2. Understand what skill set you require to do that job
  3. Identify possible job opportunities that fit what you wish to do
  4. Search for ways in which to upskill yourself should you need to
  5. Get advice from a coach or a recruitment agency and explore your options
  6. Decide what it will take for you to move from your current position
  7. Search for vacancy announcements that attract you
  8. Research the companies and see what emotions they give you

It’s always good to have a plan. Even if you don’t follow through at least in a few years when these feelings resurface you can look back and know that you explored other possibilities and chose not to take the step and know why.

Mikela Fenech Pace is an HR Consultant and Executive and Team Coach, and founder of Upstream. She loves to be around people and understanding what makes them tick. Her work is driven by the belief that people deserve to come to work with a smile and leave with a smile. She loves reading and travelling and Marsalforn – Gozo is the most beautiful place on earth.