It Is Not Your Fault You Are Miserable at Work

sad teddy bear miserable on rock

You can probably spot the signs. Sunday night blues. Feelings of “am I really making a difference.” I am not talking about the occasional bad day. No, this is an everyday pit-in-your-stomach malaise. You are miserable at work. Thankfully, it has been a while since I felt that way.

But when I did have that feeling, I knew I had to make a change. I started by taking a hard look at myself. I considered my co-workers and the different organizations I had worked at. I asked myself some hard questions. And to be honest, some of the answers hurt.

I realized what I did not enjoy: Being part of a company that spent an absurd amount of time managing perceptions. Another one that had a complete lack of transparency (and even worse, deceit). And another that lived by a growth-by-hype mentality that encouraged telling customers almost anything to get them to buy.

I knew there was a better way. When Chris and I started Aha! we gave ourselves a clear mandate to create a place where employees would love their jobs. A sane workplace for ambitious people with meaningful skills to do great work — together. It is why we embrace the concept of lovability in all that we do and are publishing a provocative new book on the topic.

Why? Because employee love leads to customer love. Lovable companies create lovable products.

So, when I suggest that you are not to blame for being miserable at work, I mean it. I am responsible for your misery. Well, not me exactly, but someone in a position like me. Your boss, your boss’s boss, your company’s CEO.

Employees are the most valuable asset a company has. It is every CEO’s responsibility to create an environment that promotes their growth. And if you are a leader in title or action, you carry an even more important responsibility. It is up to you set the foundation for a workplace that people love — both for yourself and others.

I am not foolish, though — I know that most companies do not put people first. That is proven out by studies that show 70 percent of workers leave their jobs out of frustration with managers. And I am certainly not suggesting you quit your job tomorrow morning. But you can do something.

It is true that we cannot always control our situations. But we can all work towards finding a better path forward. Suffer in silence? OK, but not forever. 

It starts with knowing exactly why you are unhappy. Examine your situation. Once you pinpoint what you want, you have the responsibility to pursue it. Maybe you need to set new goals or work with your manager to switch up your role.

Here are two questions to get you started: 

  • What motivates me to be my best?
  • What is restraining me from being my best?

For me, I recognized the causes of my own workplace misery and I knew I could help myself and others avoid them. Leading the team at Aha! is meaningful work that I take seriously. I do everything I can to create a place where people can build products that people love and be happy doing it too.

Have you been able to find work that you love?

About Brian and Aha!

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product roadmap software — and the author of Lovability. His two previous startups were acquired by well-known public companies. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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