Are you unhappy in your job? Why? Is it because you don’t like your commute, your salary or your boss? Those are among the top reasons why people leave their job but those are not the only reasons you could be unhappy at your job.
It could be as simple as the company you work for.
Have you ever asked what does your company stand for? What do they actually do? How does that measure up with your own beliefs?
A couple of examples:
1. You work for a fossil fuel energy company but you strongly believe that dependence on fossil fuels is causing global warming and damage to our environment. You may find yourself deeply unsettled working for an organization that produces fossil fuels.
2. You work in sales and your department is posting fantastic numbers but you believe the methods used to generate those numbers are unethical.
The deeply unsettled feeling that comes from working at an organization that doesn’t line up with your beliefs isn’t made up by me, it is a psychological term known as cognitive dissonance. Here is what Wikipedia says about cognitive dissonance:
“Cognitive dissonance is the distressing mental state that people feel when they “find themselves doing things that don’t fit with what they know, or having opinions that do not fit with other opinions they hold.” A key assumption is that people want their expectations to meet reality, creating a sense of equilibrium. Likewise, another assumption is that a person will avoid situations or information sources that give rise to feelings of uneasiness, or dissonance.
Dissonance is aroused when people are confronted with information that is inconsistent with their beliefs. If the dissonance is not reduced by changing one’s belief, the dissonance can result in restoring consonance through misperception, rejection or refutation of the information, seeking support from others who share the beliefs, and attempting to persuade others.”
In our above examples people may rationalize away their concerns about the environment or sales tactics (changing their beliefs), they may try to change the behaviors they disagree with (bring the unethical behavior to light) or remove the dissonance completely by finding another job or moving into a different area of the company.
Maybe your unhappiness isn’t as blatant as the examples I used, but consider this on a smaller level: are the products or lifestyle that a company promotes consistent with your own beliefs? Does a company treat its customers in a fair and ethical fashion? Are you proud to say where you work?
Those are deep questions to ask but the answers are valuable. Many of us think that the next job or a bigger paycheck will solve our problems but too often we end up feeling the same way in a new job. Don’t let that happen to you.