Well+Good

5 ways you can boost your happiness at work (without putting in your 2 weeks notice)

Photo: Getty Images/Luis Alvarez

Remember the first day at your new job? You arrived at work starry-eyed and hopeful—from your cool new coworkers to your cute cubicle, everything seemed great. Fast forward a year, and it’s all lost its sparkle.

But if things seem a little blah at work, it doesn’t mean you have to give your two-weeks notice (at least, not yet). According to Tallia Deljou, a positive organizational psychologist and career coach at Mavenly + Co, you totally have the power to banish the Sunday (and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…) Scaries without switching jobs.

Take, for instance, one of Deljou’s clients who wanted to leave her job but had signed a contract that prevented her from doing so for a year. Deljou worked with her to focus on changing the things that were in her control at work, instead of focusing on the things she couldn’t change (her contract.) “By making a small number of simple changes, she felt way more in control of how her experience went every day,” Deljou says. And considering that autonomy is a crucial part of finding satisfaction at work, taking your day-to-day into your own hands can make a major difference in your happiness levels.

Deljou suggests instituting these 5 strategies below before you start sending out résumés.

Photo: Getty Images/Tom Warner

1. Mix things up

To sit and only do one thing all day is a recipe for boredom, says Deljou. “Excitement and engagement comes when you can change things up and put different talents to use,” she explains. Talk to people in other departments or friends who work in your industry for other employers, and see if any of their skills or responsibilities inspire you. Then consider whether it would help your company if you were to learn that skill. If the answer is yes, then go to your manager and (respectfully) ask if you can take this on in your current role, being sure to communicate how doing so will add value. “Nothing will change if you keep quiet,” Deljou says.

2. Get a good look at the bigger picture

If you work at a large company, there’s a good chance your role is very specific and sometimes it can be hard to see the bigger picture. “To be one piece of the puzzle without knowing what the full thing looks like can sometimes make your work feel pointless,” Deljou says. “If you’re feeling like the work you’re doing isn’t connected to the people around you, start having conversations with your colleagues about what they do. You’ll start to connect the dots and help each other out. Collaboration is key,” Deljou says.

3. Make an impact

You don’t have to work for a charity or a non-profit to feel like the work you do makes a difference. But feeling like you’re contributing to some cause or bigger idea can make the daily grind feel less like a grind. If you feel a lack of connection to your company, find a way to hear client success stories or connect with the people who engage with your company’s service or product. “Why does the work you do matter to people outside of your company? Get a sense of how what you do affects the lives of the people you serve,” Deljou says. “If you don’t feel like what you do matters, why are you there?”

4. Lead the charge

If graduation isn’t yet far in your rearview mirror, the idea of carrying out a big work project solo or heading up a new program may sound intimidating. But don’t let butterflies hold you back from contributing your awesome ideas and insights to the company. “Give yourself permission to go all-in with something and take initiative,” Deljou says. “Check your fear of failure at the door and keep going. It’ll not only give you visibility but also make you feel prouder and more accomplished.”

5. Check in

You don’t have to wait until a formal review to get some feedback from your boss. Set up a coffee date or a quick touch-base with your manager and ask away. “Do you know how effective or good you are at what you do, or are you constantly left wondering in uncertainty?” Deljou asks. “It’s important to know how you’re doing to be able to measure growth and success.”

For some major #girlboss inspo, find out how Lauren Conrad and her bestie thrive as moms *and* business partners. And can complaining at work actually make you more productive?