“Love my work, hate my job” is the lament of too many people. Since layoffs appear to have reduced in numbers and the workplace seems to be settling into the new normal, people have the luxury of contemplating whether they're happy in the workplace.

Being out of work, or even the threat of it, is sobering. I would say a good 90% of my executive coaching clients who found themselves in one or both of those situations had no desire to stop doing what they were educated and experienced in. Sure, they took a bit of time off if they were given a decent severance package, but even with the income stream still flowing, most people simply missed being challenged, structured, and in contact with other smart human beings.

What people often don’t miss is the long hours, nagging, micro-manger boss, or the push for ever greater productivity. Once the commute is taken away, some begin to appreciate just how grueling it was. Stats tell us that for most people the “to and from” work is the most stressful part of their day.

Before you're quick to take the leap and jump to a competitor or veer off onto a new path, ask yourself, “What is within my control at work? What can I change to get back to liking what I do for a living and where?”

There are some obvious solutions, which may or may not be simple.

Live closer to your work or alter your hours so you're not traveling at the rush hour. Make commute time more relaxing, not seeing it as additional work hours or as a part of your eight hours of sleep.

Be more efficient for your sake. Identify time wasters (they can be things but often are people) and manage them better. Give the found time to yourself.

Update your environment. I’m regularly shocked at how institutional many people’s offices and cubicles look. “I meant to bring in some art, photos, nicer desk accessories, etc., but I haven’t gotten around to it.” Get around to it. It makes your day more pleasant and says you’re permanent (even if you’re not). Question where your computer monitor sits and its height. Advocate for a new desk chair or updated technology. If you don’t have a window, try and get a view of one. Never minimize the power of sunlight and the impact of seeing the day progress through light and weather.

Have more contact with your supervisor. You heard me. Most micro-managers are control freaks and anxiety riddled. Ask for more face time, send more updates, and reassure your boss that things are on time and as planned. This is a short-term strategy with long-term impact. The immersion tactic will teach you a number of things.

(a) Your boss is capable (or not) of trusting once you proven you’re trustworthy.

(b) You’ll get a better understanding as to how your supervisor works and may want to tailor your approach to that.

Finally, increased contact might show you the real person, not just his/her work persona. You’ll have to decide whether you like the real deal or dislike it even more. Both are important pieces of information in deciding whether it’s the work or the job.

Handle your personal life at home. Sure you’re upset, stressed, distracted, but not with work. It’s the kids, the bills, your health, the car, relationships, whatever, and you take it to the office and expect someone to at least care if not have a solution. Unreasonable. First, you don’t want people knowing your personal challenges. Secondly, it’s not what you are being paid for. Finally, information can be used against you, “Oh, she’s/he's ready for a promotion all right but with his/her divorce and all, maybe we should wait another six months.” Do you want that comment made about you behind closed doors because someone knows something you should have kept to yourself? Surely if something happens, such as a death in your family or as serious illness, your colleagues and top management want to know. What they don’t have high tolerance for is drama. On the other hand, a compassionless workplace may not be the kind of place in which you want to invest your energies and future.

It’s hard to be objective on a matter such as “Is it the work or the job?” That’s why many people hire a coach. I’ve had a number of clients come to executive coaching for exactly that issue. We’ve arrived at a number of answers and different solutions depending on the person, the problems, timing, affordability, external factors, and gut. Switching jobs or careers can be one of the most important life decisions, yet many intelligent adults who hire all sorts of pros for everything from their finances to their hair or golf game fail to seek the experience and advice of a trained, experienced professional coach. Am I talking about you?

(c) Jane Cranston.

Author's Bio: 

Jane Cranston is an executive career coach. She works with success-driven executives, managers and leaders to reach their potential, better manage their boss and staff, as well as develop a career strategy to reach goals and aspirations. Jane is the author of Great Job in Tough Times a step-by-step job search system. Click here to subscribe to her twice monthly Competitive Edge Report.