How To Be Happier At Work Without Quitting
Let’s talk about how to be happier at work without quitting. I’m going to start by having you consider a few questions:
Have you ever found yourself daydreaming about a happier work life while stuck in a meeting or at your desk?
Have you ever felt like you’re on the verge of quitting your job due to unhappiness?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with your current job? What would it take to move that number closer to a 10 without leaving your job?
In this episode, I’m going to tackle a common question: Why do so many of us feel unhappy at work? This is especially relevant in today’s job market, with the Great Resignation changing the landscape, especially for accountants.
According to a 2017 CNN article, job dissatisfaction often stems from limited career growth, company culture, feeling underpaid, and challenging colleagues or managers. While these factors have always mattered, the Great Resignation has made us rethink job satisfaction more than ever.
But here’s the twist when it comes to finding happiness at work: It’s not just about waiting for the workplace to change; it’s about changing how we view and engage with our job.
How? In a previous episode (#14 – The Skill of Self-Coaching For Accountants), I introduced a tool called The Model. This game-changing tool teaches that our thoughts, not external factors, create our emotions and job satisfaction.
I promise that this insight can literally transform how you experience work and navigate today’s job market.
By the end of this episode, you’ll have practical strategies to not just survive but thrive in your accounting career, even during the Great Resignation. I’ll guide you on reframing your thinking, taking control of your emotions, and finding more satisfaction in your current job.
You’ll see that you don’t need to think about quitting to find happiness elsewhere.
I want you to get ready to challenge your perspective, unlock workplace happiness, and start a more fulfilling career journey.
Common reasons for discontentment in accounting jobs
Now, let’s talk about why some of us believe we are unhappy at our jobs. Here are some common reasons:
Same Old, Same Old: In some accounting jobs, the tasks can become so repetitive that we begin to question whether this is really what we want to be doing with our careers. When I started working at Deloitte over 30 years ago, my main job was calculating the Federal and State depreciation and I did that for 2 years! As you can imagine, it got pretty boring after awhile.
Stress and Pressure: Think of a time when you had lots to do, and it felt like a mountain of work was piling up. That kind of stress and pressure, especially during tax season or other quarterly deadlines, can make many of us want to switch jobs or careers. I’ve had over 30 years of tax seasons and have considered walking away and doing something else many times.
Feeling Undervalued: Have you ever done a great job but didn’t get recognized for it? For many of us, when we feel like our hard work goes unnoticed, it can take the wind out of our sails. I’ve worked with many coaching clients who feel undervalued and underappreciated. .
Difficult People: Sometimes, it’s not the work itself but the people you work with or for. Dealing with difficult colleagues, clients, or managers can seem to make any job less enjoyable. I’m going to be doing an entire episode soon on dealing with difficult people, so make sure you stay tuned.
Lack of Growth: Imagine you’re climbing a ladder, but it doesn’t seem to go anywhere. That’s how some of us feel when we see limited opportunities for advancement or career growth. One of my clients did everything he could to make partner, but kept getting shot down, eventually leading him to want to walk away.
Work-Life Balance: Balancing work and personal life can be like a juggling act in the circus. Some of us feel like we’re working too much and not getting enough time for ourselves or our families. This is probably the #1 reason thing my coaching clients want to work on. They’re drowning and need someone to give them a life raft.
The Effects Of The Pandemic: Lastly, I think after the impact of the pandemic on the accounting profession and what seemed like a two year never-ending tax season, many of us are rethinking our jobs and looking for something that makes us happier. If there’s anything we learned the past few years is that life is too short.
So, whether you relate to any of these or you have your own reasons for your discontentment at work, it’s important to acknowledge what’s bothering you. It’s the first step to making things better.
But once you have the awareness of why you believe you’re unhappy at your job, it’s time to understand the role of your brain in your job dissatisfaction.
Understanding the role of your brain in job satisfaction
Your brain plays a crucial role in determining how you feel about your job, and it’s simpler than you might think. Imagine your brain as the control center for your emotions at work.
Here’s the basic idea: Your brain uses special chemicals to create your emotions. These chemicals can make you feel happy or stressed, and they play a significant role in your job satisfaction.
Think of these chemicals as little mood managers in your brain. When your brain perceives things going well at work, it releases chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, making you feel happy and satisfied.
On the other hand, when your brain interprets work as highly stressful, it produces cortisol, which signals discomfort.
The key takeaway is that it’s your brain’s interpretation of work situations that influences your feelings, not the actual job itself. .
For example, if you have a job with repetitive tasks, face challenging work, or don’t feel appreciated, your brain may not release as many happy chemicals, leading to job dissatisfaction. But here’s the empowering part: You don’t need to quit your job to feel better about it.
The hard truth is that your job isn’t responsible for making you happy; it’s your thoughts about your job that matter. Managing your accountant brain is the secret to finding happiness at work.
Many accountants have learned this lesson the hard way, blaming different jobs or situations when it’s their brain’s interpretation that’s at the core of their dissatisfaction.
As a coach, I’ve witnessed clients transform their work outlook by learning to manage their minds and become Smarter Accountants. They realize the power they have to be happier, regardless of their work circumstances.
Remember, you take your brain with you wherever you go. Until you master managing it effectively, you risk allowing the Toddler brain to run your career and life—a scenario best avoided in your accounting journey.
Why we feel the way we feel
Ever wondered why work can sometimes feel like a rollercoaster of emotions? It all boils down to how our brains operate.
Your brain has a crucial role in overseeing your well-being. However, your lower, primitive part of your brain, that I refer to as the “Toddler,” is in charge 80 – 90% of the time and it does not find accounting work enjoyable.
It often takes considerable effort to get your Toddler brain on board with the demands of an accountant’s role. Your lower brain prefers the comfort of familiar patterns and may resist change or challenges.
What’s vital to grasp is that everything at work is essentially neutral. I mean everything. Nothing at work inherently carries meaning until your brain assigns it meaning.
For example, let’s say a colleague walks past your desk without saying a word. That’s a neutral event. But here’s where it gets interesting. Your brain doesn’t let neutral things remain neutral. It starts generating thoughts about these events.
In simpler terms, your brain attaches meaning to these neutral occurrences. For instance, if your thought is, “My colleague didn’t say hi because they don’t like me,” it might make you feel a bit sad or angry. Yet, if your thought is, “Maybe they didn’t notice me because they were busy,” you’d probably feel more accepting.
The crucial takeaway here is that everything at work—the people, the tasks, the environment—are all neutral. They don’t have the power to make you feel good or bad. It’s your thoughts, your unique accountant brain’s interpretations, that dictate how you feel.
The good news is that you can take control of your thoughts by tapping into the higher, more rational part of your brain—the part I refer to as the “Supervising Parent.” You have the ability to choose what thoughts to intentionally think about your job, your boss, and every aspect of your work.
Your job isn’t a magical happiness switch; it doesn’t automatically make you happy or unhappy. Your feelings are a direct result of what your brain is thinking.
Let me give you my own example. Some time ago, I was dealing with a challenging financial analysis for a client. Initially, I thought, “I can’t believe I’m struggling with this. I should know better.” This thought led to frustration and stress, affecting my overall job satisfaction.
However, on another occasion with a similar challenge, my thought was, “This is complicated, but I’ve tackled similar challenges before. I’ll take it step by step.” This thought left me feeling calmer and more confident. These positive emotions not only helped me resolve the issue but also contributed to my overall job satisfaction, reinforcing my sense of competence.
In both instances, the neutral event was the same—a complex financial analysis. What made the difference were my thoughts about it and, subsequently, my emotions and job satisfaction.
Another example is with a coaching client who was working in what she described as a “toxic” work environment. She had a difficult boss, her coworkers weren’t pulling their weight, and she found herself working more hours than she wanted to.
But once we worked together, she discovered that she could feel better about her job even with the exact same situation. The best part is that once she didn’t make her happiness dependent on those things changing, the boss became easier to get along with, the coworkers started doing their fair share, and she set better boundaries around her work hours.
The truth is that when you blame external factors for your job satisfaction, you’re quite powerless. But when you learn that how you feel is only ever created by your thoughts, you take your power back to feel more helpful and useful emotions,
The more positively you view your work and yourself, the more content and fulfilled you’ll feel.
Here’s my advice to all my coaching clients: When you understand the cause, you gain the power to change the effect.
The Smarter Accountant way: How to feel better at work
Hopefully you now understand that your thoughts play a pivotal role in how you feel at work. Now, let’s dive deeper into practical strategies that can empower you to feel better and boost your job satisfaction, regardless of external circumstances.
Feeling better at work starts with the understanding that you hold the reins to your emotions.
Here are some actionable steps:
Self-Awareness: Identify what’s making you unhappy at work. Is it a specific task, coworker, or feeling undervalued? The more specific, the easier to address.
Thoughts and Feelings: Keep a journal to record thoughts and corresponding emotions. This helps spot recurring thought patterns.
Challenge Unhelpful Thoughts: When negative thoughts arise, ask if there’s concrete evidence to support them. Replace them with constructive, balanced, and helpful thoughts.
Gradual Thought Shift: Make incremental shifts in your thinking. Choose thoughts that feel believable and resonate with you.
Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to seek guidance when needed. Support is available to help you manage your thoughts and emotions effectively.
Remember, your job satisfaction isn’t passive; you have the power to shape it.
Additional tips to create a happier work life
Clarify Your Values: Identify what truly matters in your work. Is it recognition, growth, work-life balance, or purpose?
Set Realistic Expectations: Ensure your expectations align with your job and industry’s nature. Adjust them to be more realistic.
Effective Communication: Open and honest communication can address workplace issues positively. Voice your concerns constructively, not just complain behind the scenes.
Focus on What You Can Control: Acknowledge you can’t control everything at work. Focus on your reactions, thoughts, and actions.
Pursue Growth and Learning: Invest in personal development. Consider taking my 6-week Smarter Accountant Program for fulfillment and engagement.
Practice Self-Care: Prioritize self-care for stress management and work-life balance. Exercise, mindfulness, boundaries, and breaks are valuable.
Explore Other Opportunities: Lastly, if despite your best efforts, your current job consistently makes you unhappy, consider exploring other career opportunities or roles that better align with your values and goals. But here’s what I tell my coaching clients – the best job to learn the skill of managing your mind is your current job.
Remember, you’re bringing your brain with you so you want to make sure you’re not continuing to blame circumstances for how you feel. Otherwise, you will inevitably do the same thing at the next job.
Hopefully you now understand that your job doesn’t possess magical happiness powers. Your thoughts, actions, and choices determine your job satisfaction.
By applying these comprehensive strategies and taking control of your emotions, you can create a more enjoyable, fulfilling, and satisfying work life.
And since my mission is to teach smart accountants how to work smarter, if you’re interested in learning how to be happier without needing to quit, you can simply go to www.thesmarteraccountant.com/calendar and book a free session with me.
I’ll explain The Smarter Accountant 6-week Program and how you can apply it to whatever you’re struggling with.
That’s what I have for you, but make sure you check back each week as I help you go from being a stressed accountant to a Smarter Accountant.
Make sure you go to www.thesmarteraccountant.com and take The Smarter Accountant Quiz. You’re going to want to know if you’ve been underutilizing your accountant brain so that you have a starting point for becoming a Smarter Accountant..
Also, I would appreciate it if you could get the word out to other accountants about this podcast. The more accountants find out about it, the more we can begin to change the narrative in the accounting profession.
The truth is that you’re already smart, but this podcast will show you how to be smarter.