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It's easy to blame your narcissistic boss, long working hours, changing goal posts and underappreciated efforts for your unhappiness in your job, but can you really blame everyone and everything else for your unhappiness? You have the power to turn your working life around. If you want to.

You spend most of your life with the people you work with, so it makes sense to nurture those relationships and enjoy your workplace, because like it or not, this is your life. The people you work with are not only those you spend most of your life with, but they are also there to buoy you when you’re down.

Have you ever had a disagreement with your partner, family member or close friend, but after a day at work it doesn’t seem so bad? As the day goes on and you have different conversations, a few laughs even, you get some perspective. You’re not trapped in the misery of your temporary relationship hurdle, you’ve realised that it’s not that important in the scheme of things and it’s all thanks to the distraction and perspective that your colleagues have given you. You may not love them like you do those closest to you, but they are an invaluable piece of the puzzle that is your life.

The smartest person at work is the one who has figured this out and enjoys every day. Has a bit of fun, perhaps embellishes stories or says things to get a rise out of people. You may have previously labelled this person as something less charitable than smart, but now when you think about it, have they in fact figured out the key to a happy work life?


If you have been lucky enough to be involved with a team that are high energy, positive, share ideas, encourage ideas and discuss gripes with a view to solving them once and for all, you’ll know first-hand the possibilities of an evolving, maturing team.

It sounds like a mythical wonderland that only exists in Google headquarters, but you have the power to create this environment in your own workplace. It takes a fair amount of energy and resilience, but your co-workers will rise to the occasion and enjoy the day with you.

Set your mood to resilient good humour. If you come to work with a defensive attitude it’s guaranteed you will have a bad day, week, month, year. Instead, set your mood to that of a resilient, confident and open minded person. Remove your attachment to your work and open yourself up to truly receive other’s ideas impartially. Ride the wave and see where it takes you. Have a laugh, have a chat and decide to have a good time at work.


Is it really that bad? Do you have to take it so seriously? Dwelling on all that is wrong and all the work that you have to do will serve absolutely no purpose other than to make you stressed and miserable. Don’t suffer silently. Why not discuss your latest set of tasks with the team. What have you got to lose by doing this? You might get some new perspectives, good ideas, risks and other considerations you may not have thought of. You end up doing a better job when you involve other people and in the process grow your support network and team environment. In one regard it can seem more time consuming to talk through things, but it often saves heaps of time when compared with struggling with certain aspects or reworking the task when these other perspectives come up later. Just make sure you have set your resilience and impersonalised frame of mind when you open up the discussion as your team mates may inadvertently insult your work or approach.


You might have great ideas, you might share them with your colleagues and boss, but nothing ever happens. Your great idea turns into a gripe about how no one ever listens to you and the organisation is doomed to fail. Whos responsibly is it to implement new ideas? You cannot change things outside of your control, but you do have the power to change what is in your own control. Take the initiative and incite change and enthusiasm. Don’t be a victim of failure to act. You may need to prepare yourself for knockbacks, criticism and extra work, but it will make you feel better, more in control and better able to see the positive possibilities for a bright future.


People rarely stay in the same job for their whole career like they used to. If you’re unhappy in your current job and none of the improvement methods above resonate with you, maybe it is worthwhile to evaluate whether it’s time for a change.

Matching your ethos to the organisation you work for can unlock reasons for unhappiness in your job. You will be reliving a daily hell if you do not believe in what your organisation is trying to achieve.

Your values are your sense of right and wrong and the degree of bending the rules you’re willing to make in any life decision. If your values are in conflict with the organisation’s purpose, you will feel a daily inner conflict with your purpose and self-worth. Values are not static. They change as our experiences shape our decisions. It’s important to evaluate your values and how they may have changed to make sure you’re on the right path.

If you truly do have a narcissistic boss, your ethos doesn’t match your organisation’s purpose or you are in a values conflict and you feel the life draining out of you, the reality is that the best option for your mental and work life health might be to move on. Changes and challenges are great for the soul and you’ll find a new work family to start over with and refer back to the start of this blog.

Key points

  • If you truly want to improve your work life, set your attitude to suit the life you want to lead.

  • Be enthusiastic, funny and inclusive. Brooding will not make your working life a happy one.

  • Build the team and support network you’ve always wanted by opening the door to their thoughts and opinions.

  • Make sure you’re in a resilient frame of mind before letting people in.

  • Check your values and ask yourself if it’s time for a change.

To learn more about defining problems and identifying, assessing and implementing improvement opportunities, download the Process Improvement Handbook.


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