Hulu's HR chief shares the simple task you should do when you realize you hate your job
- Hulu HR head Shannon Sullivan felt unfulfilled at work.
- She realized that was because her job involved many tedious processes. Once she made those more efficient, she could enjoy her role again.
- The first step to being happier at work is figuring out what's making you unhappy - and it could be simpler than you think.
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Shannon Sullivan had been working in talent management at Hulu for about three years when she noticed herself losing motivation.
She tried, in vain, to figure out what had gone wrong.
"I found myself in a vicious and unproductive cycle of looking outward for others to fix my sense of unfulfillment," Sullivan wrote in an email to Business Insider.
Several years later, Sullivan is the senior vice president of talent and organization at Hulu. She might easily have bolted and looked for another job if she hadn't recognized the surprising source of her unhappiness.
"After much inward reflection, I became present to the cause of my disengagement," Sullivan wrote. "My value of efficiency was being compromised."
In other words, Sullivan didn't have an inept manager and she didn't find her work superficial - challenges that might prove tricky to tackle. Instead, she wanted to work smarter.
"Every time I had to engage in a process that felt manual, cumbersome, inefficient, or not scalable," Sullivan wrote, "I would be triggered."
She began keeping a running log of those triggers and listing next to each one a single action she could take to improve the situation. Gradually, her frustration began to dissolve.
"I started to feel more present to what was going on," Sullivan wrote, "and could take meaningful steps toward making my job one that is empowering and fulfilling."
Sullivan's advice for other people feeling unfulfilled at work is twofold. First, start "self-reflecting on why that is and what action [you] can take to change it." And second, stop blaming your coworkers. Too often, she said, "time is spent looking outward at others and how they need to change."
The first step to being happier at work is figuring out why you're miserable
Other experts have shared similar insights.
For example, Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author of "The Happiness Project," said the first thing to do when you're miserable at work is identify the problem. Chances are good that you don't hate everything about your job, and that you can change the one or two things you do detest.
Meanwhile, Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, authors of "Designing Your Life," recommend keeping a "Good Time Journal," in which you list your work activities and how engaged you are while doing them. Once you reflect on any patterns or surprises, you can use those findings to shape your role.
As for Sullivan, she said it's crucial to start "getting clear on your personal values, assessing where your work is fulfilling those values, and where those values are being compromised." From there, you can take action to make work a source of greater satisfaction.