It was eight years ago almost to the date that I left my last job. I was miserable. I didn't like my job, boss or the company product I was selling. This really started to shine during the holidays as I dreamed about those couple days off that I wouldn't have to deal with it. No more pretending. No more feeling obligated to smile. No more work.

If you are unhappy with your job, then you are not alone. Seventy percent of Americans fall in the same boat as I did at the time. There are many factors that affect our work, some that we can control and some that we cannot.

Due to all of the moving pieces, there is a high chance that some of them will not be ideal, leading to unhappiness at work. Having a deep understanding of why you are unhappy will allow you to decide what you should do about it.

Here are 10 science-backed reasons why you are unhappy at work. Coming to terms with them can enable you to enjoy in an area where you are spending significant time:

Your boss.

One huge reason for unhappiness at work is your boss. If you do not get along with your boss, it is hard to enjoy being at work. They oversee the work you do and can make your life miserable.

Once you come to terms with the fact that your boss is making you unhappy, you can think about ways to remedy the situation.  Examples include having a conversation with him, talking with his boss or trying to change teams.

Your co-workers.

We are surrounded by others in our office all day long. If they are cliquey or we do not get along with them, then it takes the social aspect out of work.

We are social creatures and being able to laugh, smile and be ourselves at work makes us much happier while we are there. This is especially the case since having strong relationships with coworkers can give us a support network to handle other difficulties at work.

The type of work you are doing.

Many do not enjoy the type of work they are doing. You might not like software engineering or sales or the specific project that you were assigned.

When this is the case, sometimes it is a systemic issue and sometimes just a short-term one. As a consultant, if you do not like the project you are on, you will at least be getting a new project soon. If you are a consultant, though, and you do not enjoy the transient nature of your work, then there are deeper issues at play.

Your attitude.

Having a negative attitude at work affects the way that you view everything that happens to you. The small comment from a coworker seems much more snarky when you think everyone is out to get you.

This negative attitude could have originated from a variety of different factors. Maybe your first month was very negative. Maybe you did not get your first choice job and this one has always just felt worse.

Trying to alter your attitude, though, has a chance of drastically changing the way that you view your job. With a positive outlook, the way people act and the type of work you are doing might feel totally different.

The commute.

A long commute to work can be a huge downer. When we take a job, we are excited about the role and/or the company. This means we often overlook the little things. One of those little things that looms largest is the commute. A long commute is unexpectedly stressful. 

In these situations, there are a variety of different potential solutions. You could try and move houses, work remotely more often, or find ways for a more productive and energy-inducing commute (like listening to audiobooks)

Stagnant growth.

Maybe you liked your job initially and were challenged during the first few months. Now, though, you feel like you are not learning anything new. The work might feel monotonous or not very challenging. While lack of mental effort feels nice in the short term, over time, lack of challenge is boring.

Sometimes the solution is as easy as a conversation with your boss about your current situation. Other times, you might need to look for creative or mental stimulation outside of work, especially in the short term.

Lack of appreciation.

It is hard to pour your heart into something and not receive any recognition for it. Understanding the impact that the work you are doing is really having can be helpful. If you are passionate about your work and it is leaving an impact that you see, then you should not need the recognition. At your heart, you know you are doing the right thing.

A lack of appreciation could also come from sub-par work, though. Discussing this with your boss can help you find areas to improve if needed and could give you a chance to tell your boss that you appreciate recognition from time to time.


When there is significant work to be done, you can unfairly get handed a large burden. Sometimes, this is a unique and special opportunity. Seeing it like that can help keep your energy levels high. In other cases, though, if you have no desire to be working that hard, being honest with your superiors or team will help.

Jealousy of your friends.

We can look at our friends in their jobs and be jealous. It often seems like they are working less or making more money or having more fun than we are. The grass is always greener, though. Plus, your friends might be painting their job as much better than it really is for ego reasons or because they are just as jealous of you in your role.

What your company stands for.

You might enjoy the work you are doing and even the team you have, but could be against what your company is working towards.

When this is the case, it is important to think about how much you care, especially given where you are in your career. Some people want to be solving specific problems, while others want to be making money or developing certain skills.

Understanding your need to be with a company that epitomizes the standards you care about yourself, and realizing that your answer is different than others' answers will help you decide how much you care about your company mission.