Mind & Body

The Art of Work

Being unhappily employed can ruin your physical and emotional well-being. How do you find a way to do the job you love and love the job you do?
The Art of Work
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3. "I dislike the job I have, but I'm not ready to give it up." It's time for another inventory: Are you growing at your job? How so? Being forced to grow could be the reason for your discomfort. Write down how you're challenged, and what you're learning. Even if you're taking steps toward your ideal vocation, finding ways to make the job you have more agreeable will keep you healthier and give you a sense of power. "People with a lot of demands on them but little control over their work have the highest levels of stress," says Pickering.

Unfortunately, we tend to give up control in our jobs more than in any other place in our lives, says Jansen. "We think, 'Well, if this company hired me and is paying me this salary, they know what's best for me,' but they don't, and you shouldn't assume that they do." Want to change your workload, the people you answer to or your salary? You'll have to be assertive. Just make sure you frame the request to allow your employers to see that the change will benefit them as well. "If you tell your boss, 'I no longer want to do a certain part of my job, so I'll train someone else to do it,' he or she is likely to be fine with it as long as the work is still being done," says Jansen. "That could take some of the burden off your current workload or free you to take on more interesting responsibilities."

Of course, some situations are just unsalvageable. "If you've set boundaries with your boss but still aren't treated well, get your resume together and get out of there," Richardson says. "Eventually, a situation like that will hurt your very being." The point is this: You have options. If you're able to alter your work situation to fit your needs, you may find that you already have your ideal job. If you've created better conditions but still don't feel fulfilled, don't settle for comfort over true satisfaction. The right career is still waiting for you, and now you're in the perfect position to go looking for it.