A Gratitude Journal Could Help You Figure Out When it’s Time to Change Jobs

By Chelsea Babin

In this season of being thankful and grateful it’s a bit taboo to talk about dissatisfaction or being bored. But what if you’re at a job that isn’t making you happy? One of the best things you can do to make yourself a happier, more grateful person overall is to start a gratitude journal and, luckily, this journal could help you figure out when it’s time to change jobs.

What it is:

A gratitude journal is a place where you can write in short bursts every day (or at least frequently) about what you’re grateful for that day. Studies have shown that people who regularly remind themselves what they’re thankful for are often more positive, pleasant, and happy simply by recording what they’re grateful for. In this specific scenario, what you aren’t grateful for can shed just as much light on what aspects of your life you need to change. If your job rarely or never makes your gratitude journal, it may be time to start a job search to find a job that will regularly make you happy and grateful.

The Best Way to Journal:

1. Be Specific: Instead of saying that you’re grateful for your coworkers say you’re grateful that Joe and Beth made you snort with laughter while the three of you were collaborating on a really stressful project. Instead of saying you’re grateful for a new opportunity from your boss say you’re grateful that your boss approved your tuition reimbursement request and you now get to learn a technology you’ve always wanted to know. Specificity is key to an effective gratitude journal!

2. Grateful Doesn’t Mean Happy: Our knee jerk reaction is to only be grateful for the happy moments but it’s also important, especially when you’re focusing your gratitude journal on your job, to remember to be thankful for the challenging moments too that help you learn and grow. When you record these you’ll keep a record of the less than positive experiences but you can frame them in a more positive way which may help elongate your job fulfillment so you can continue to learn new skills and grow which, ultimately, will get you a better job in the future.

3. Small is Okay: Sometimes the little things are the best. A great cookie at lunch, getting done with your work two minutes early and beating the traffic home, or only having one after hours email to answer instead of ten. If you’re keeping a gratitude journal don’t feel like everything you record needs to be some large, grandiose occasion. Remember to be grateful for the small things!

4. Time to Reflect: The only way your gratitude journal will effectively help you decide whether or not it’s time to change jobs is if you make the time to reflect on it. Give yourself an arbitrary deadline (or two), like two weeks or one month after you start writing, and set aside 30 minutes to sink into your gratitude journal and evaluate it. Are some days almost empty or do most of them fill an entire page? Are there more challenging moments present than happy ones? Can you see growth opportunities or room to make it better without changing jobs? This time is extremely important and, if you’re only doing a gratitude journal for your career instead of your whole life, it’s really the whole point!

5. Little Details that Bring You Back: If you’re planning on using your gratitude journal to reflect on your weeks and months to evaluate how happy you are with your job overall, it’s important to include specific, little details that will bring you back into each moment. Without these little details you may be too distant to properly reflect and evaluate your gratitude journal.

It’s the season to be grateful but, if you’re on the fence about whether it’s time to move on from your current job, you may be distracted from all of the happiness and thankfulness. Start your gratitude journal as soon as possible. Then, give it a couple of weeks or a month before you start to reflect and evaluate. The practice of keeping a gratitude journal should make you a happier person in general but it can also show you when it’s time to ditch a negative current opportunity and move on to a better, happier one.