Many people, if not most, dislike something about their current job. The reasons for being unhappy are broad—it could be the commute, the pay, coworkers, the management or leadership style, office politics, or perhaps an unexpected change in direction for the company or their job description. Whatever the reason, if you’re employed full-time, you spend more than half of your waking hours at work (not including the commute!). That’s a lot of time to feel unhappy doing work you probably chose because you believed it would be fulfilling and gratifying.

When we’re happy at work, we’re more likely to perform better, which can lead to opportunities and promotions in the future. And, our attitude about work can easily spill into the rest of our lives.

The questions you need to ask yourself are: What can I do to improve my current job? Is it worth salvaging? Is it time to move on?

Consider the following steps to find your answers—and keep your sanity while doing so!

  1. Don’t broadcast your feelings. Publicly complaining about your job can quickly and easily backfire—that includes on social media and to coworkers, even after work hours. You want to maintain your professional integrity in the eyes of your current employer and for future employers, who may contact your current boss as a reference. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue improving a process or addressing a strained relationship at work. It means that venting hurt feelings and emotions without a game plan for change rarely does anyone any good.
  2. Know why you’re unhappy. It’s easy to make generalities like, “I hate my job!” But the work you put into identifying precisely what isn’t working for you will pay dividends in clear, actionable steps. This knowledge will show you how to pursue making your current situation better, if moving on is the best option, and what to look out for before you sign on to your next job. No one wants to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire.
    Consider these common complaints and identify which apply to you:
    1. Your workload is overwhelming
    2. Your job description has drastically changed
    3. You don’t feel fairly compensated
    4. A member of your team frustrates you or mistreats you
    5. You’re asked to complete tasks without adequate tools to succeed
    6. Your manager’s leadership style doesn’t work with your personality
      Any one of these complaints could be fixed by speaking with your employer (consider contacting your HR department). Most employers are willing to go the extra mile to keep top talent around.
  3. Do your best work anyway. It’s easy to use unhappiness as an excuse to stop doing your best at work. Afterall, if you aren’t appreciated, why bother working hard? Well, doing your best can actually improve your mood and outlook, it can show management that any struggles you report aren’t on your part, and it primes you to leave the company for another job, if you decide on that course of action.
  4. Make a plan. With a list of things you’d like to see change and the knowledge that you are doing your best at work, it’s time to make a plan. This will give you purpose and motivation, even before anything changes! Find a mentor or manager you can discuss your desired changes with. Work toward discovering if this job can still meet your needs and be fulfilling.
  5. Job hunt. You can do this (discreetly) while also doing step four. And it’s never a bad idea to keep your resume fresh and your eyes on job openings. See what else is out there; read job descriptions; learn what you might be able to do or earn elsewhere. Sometimes once we see the alternative options out there, or we’re reminded of the perks of our current job, we’re less prepared to jump ship.
  6. Say goodbye with class. Resign gracefully by giving adequate notice, and leave the company behind with no hard feelings. Leaving with ugly words or ungrateful conduct could cost you later if a potential future employer contacts your old boss. Plus, many industry and business circles are small, and word will get around to your new employer about your poor manners.
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