Feeling Restless or Unhappy at Work? Is It Time for a New Career?

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By Mirela Bitkowski, MA

You’re unhappy at work.

You check the time for the umpteenth time today. Is it time for lunch yet? Time to go home?

The day just seems to be dragging by, aimlessly.

Maybe a cup of coffee would help. You saunter into the break room.

Oh, wait. There wasn’t any the last three times you checked.

Bored, unmotivated, listless, you check your work tasks for the day. Nothing groundbreaking, nothing important. Nothing that would make a difference if it didn’t get done. What a drag.

It’s not that you hate working. You just don’t like working on things that don’t excite or inspire you.

Is this how you feel? Dissatisfied and restless? Dreading work each day?

Could you be doing something more with your life?

Is it time to change your job? Find a new career?

Or do you simply need to make some personal changes to improve your outlook?

Is it Time for a Career Change or a Mind Change?

People often panic when they realize that they’re not happy with their jobs. They immediately think they’re in the wrong work, the wrong field, the wrong company.

Well, sometimes, they’re right. But not always.

If you feel like this, how can you determine whether it’s time to find a new job or you need to make changes to help you feel happier with the work you’ve got?

Let’s look at a few things you should consider.

1. Evaluate your happiness

There is no such thing as a perfect job. When you evaluate your level of happiness at your current work, don’t compare what you have right now with some “ideal” career that doesn’t exist. Compare it with a different, but similar work. Evaluate whether feelings of being unhappy at work would only follow you, or if changing jobs would truly change matters. Be honest with yourself. The grass is not always greener on the other side of the desk.

2. Ask yourself: Do I dread Monday mornings?

Think about that for a moment. If you really do dread going to work, what is the reason? If you don’t understand the cause, you may end up feeling the same at a new job. Perhaps it’s only a certain aspect of your current work that you don’t like. To make an objective evaluation, write down the pros and cons of your present job. What you like and don’t like about your company, your position, your pay, your co-workers, etc. Once you identify the problem, you’ll have a much better idea about how to resolve it.

3. Ask yourself: Have I outgrown my work environment?

We change as much as our lives change. Feeling unhappy at work doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the wrong field. Perhaps all you need to do is redirect your energy toward another path, within your chosen field, that inspires you more. Take some time to consider your passions. Evaluate how you can cultivate the next phase of your career by adjusting your trajectory a bit.

4. Ask yourself: Am I disenchanted with my mission?

Look back and reflect on why you chose your current career in the first place. Are you really disappointed with your career path? Or do you just feel a little disconnected at the moment? Can you advance your participation in some aspect of your work to regain a sense of purpose? What other projects can you get involved in at work? Are there any open positions in your company that may interest you? Carefully evaluate if you really don’t love your profession anymore, or if you simply need to find a new way of attending to it.

5. Make positive changes

If, by now, you have figured out that something needs to change at your job, start with your current work environment. Change what you can from your end. Talk with your co-workers, your supervisors, or your boss about any problems you identified. If they value you, they’ll be open to helping you, compromising with you, and solving the issues.

What If It’s Truly Time to Find a New Job?

If you make a thorough evaluation of your problem and try to implement changes, but still feel that your being unhappy at work is tied to your current occupation, then it may really be time to find a new career. Just remember that every new job will come with its own unhappy moments and troublesome circumstances.

Moreover, keep in mind that while you’re searching for another career, don’t disengage from your present work during this process. Ignoring your current responsibilities will hurt your professional relationships. On the other hand, maintaining a positive attitude and doing good work throughout your transition can open future opportunities. Be determined to make your time count, so that you can move on to your new career without any regrets.


Mirela Bitkowski, MA, LPC Intern, sees couples and individuals at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. Mirela can help guide you through many of the hurdles that a career shift may bring to your life. To schedule an appointment with her, call (512) 270-4883, ext. 103, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.