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5 questions to ask yourself in order to be happier at work

To be happier at work, you need to affirm that you want something more for out of your career and then set clear standards and intentions.

5 questions to ask yourself in order to be happier at work
[Source photo: Prostock-studio/Adobe Stock]

Do you feel stuck in a job that no longer brings you joy? When was the last time you truly looked forward to going to work on Monday morning? Maybe you know deep down you’re long overdue for a change, but are unsure where to start.

Taking a moment to pause and think about what truly matters to you is vitally important to making a meaningful career pivot. Establishing your personal intentions is critical to setting a course for your career that allows you to do fulfilling work. But unfortunately, this won’t just happen naturally on its own—you need to set your own goals and standards.

Here are five questions you can ask yourself to help build a career that brings you happiness.


One question you may want to ask yourself is if you are tolerating your job, or actually tribbing in it.

If you’re like me, your default mode may be to simply carry on with the status quo because you don’t have the headspace or motivation to shake things up. Most of the time, we don’t get around to assessing what makes us happy until things reach a point where they’re no longer tolerable.

An example from my career was when I was once promoted into a global marketing role I originally thought would give me the chance to work on larger-scale global initiatives, something I thought I wanted more of in my career. However, I very quickly learned that the role was much more about dealing with organizational politics and internal stakeholder management, which I found frustrating.

My opinions were constantly being overridden. My role was no longer about marketing. And my job satisfaction took a major hit. I understood that stakeholder management was a big part of any corporate job. Still, I also felt like my balance between managing politics versus doing actual marketing was completely off.


For this reason, you should also ask yourself what your tipping point is.

I remember reaching a tipping point when our team’s choices related to a global ad campaign were continually getting trumped by one senior leader’s opinions. I know seniority equals authority in most large organizations, but I found this dynamic immensely frustrating because I’m someone who values equality, diversity of thought, and openness to new ideas.

Although they can feel unpleasant in the moment, but a career tipping point can often trigger positive action. If you don’t reach a point where your career becomes misaligned with your passions or values, you’re unlikely to take action. Tipping points can force you to reevaluate what you want for your career and set the wheels in motion for creating a new path for yourself.


Once you have hit this tipping point, it is time to ask yourself whose standards you will prioritize in your career.

For a long time, I held certain beliefs about work. I believed that as you rose in any organization, you would inevitably have to deal with more politics. I believed I signed up for this by accepting the promotion. I believed I needed to find a way to adapt to these standards of working if I wanted to continue climbing the corporate ladder. By holding these beliefs, I simply accepted this dynamic as par for the course.

But I eventually felt like spending all my time trying to meet this one person’s standards meant having to compromise on my career standards. It wasn’t until I reached this point of frustration that I finally declared to myself that I wanted more than this. I wanted to have autonomy and freedom to not only do work that I found more meaningful but also to work in a way I could more fully embrace.

Once you’ve reached a tipping point and recognized that something needs to change, the next step is to decide on which standards you will live by and expect for your career. For example, you should decide exactly what you want out of your work, how you want to feel while doing it, and where you want to be doing it. These are your career standards.


Once you have your standards, you should ask yourself what you think these standards will help you accomplish—these are your intentions.

There are two parts to creating a new intention in your career. First, you often have to reach some sort of a tipping point that forces you to reevaluate what you want. Most of us can tolerate situations that feel “good enough.” But when you are fed up and can’t go on like this any longer, you are almost forced to take action.

Second, you have to declare the standards you’re going to live by in your career. You don’t have to necessarily broadcast it to others, but at the very least, you have to be clear with yourself about the standards you’re going to live by in your career.

For me, after I became too frustrated with organizational politics, I decided I had to make a change. I wanted to not only do more gratifying work but also work in a way I found more gratifying. This understanding of what my ultimate intentions were, made it easier for me to pursue my career standards.


And finally, you should ask yourself what exact steps you will take to honor the standards you want to set for yourself in your career.

Once I knew what my standards and my intentions were, I pursued an alternative to my traditional career in marketing. This set the wheels in motion for me to leave my corporate marketing job behind and eventually start my consultancy career where I could have the autonomy, flexibility, and more balanced, professional experience I wanted for my career and personal life.

Increasing your happiness at work starts with first affirming that you want something more for yourself—to have your standards met, to feel a certain way when working, and most importantly, to respect yourself enough to insist on those standards so you can make clear, intentional choices that take you on a professional journey that makes you proud.

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