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how should I cure my dissatisfaction?

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urban sympathyI have a growing feeling of dissatisfaction.

One of the problems is that although I got a substantial 8% payrise after my last review (thanks again folks, I am genuinely pleased with this) I didn’t get a promotion. Not only did I not get a promotion, but two people who I consider my peers were promoted. They weren’t promoted to the level above me, but the level above that. I know, I know, I shouldn’t compare myself, but it’s difficult not to.

I really enjoy what I do most days, I love the field that I work in, I love working with intelligent people, both within my own company, and other organisations. In the last year though, I’ve only been challenged by about half my workload. Whatever I decide, I need to stretch and grow.

I’m not sure that I want to get a new job quite yet. There are some new challenges coming up at work in the next six months, so I’ll probably see how it goes for a bit. But I’m keeping a more open eye on the job adverts that are going out.

Another problem that I have is not having enough friends. Actually, that’s not true, I’ve got some really good friends, it’s just that in the last couple of years nearly all of them have moved away. I catch up with various people pretty often, but I don’t know anyone (apart from colleagues) to do anything spontaneously with.

I’ve also got quite a few new friends that are local, who I’ve met in the last year or two. I really enjoy their company, but I don’t know them that well. And most of them have kids, so are too busy to hang out with. Lots of shallow rooted friendships just isn’t as good (to me) as a couple of really deep ones. I hope some of these friendships will probably grow in time, but that’s cold comfort today.

It sounds like I’m moaning about how bad my life is. And really I shouldn’t, there’s just a little niggling feeling of dissatisfaction that I want to get rid of in a good way.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

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27 comments for “how should I cure my dissatisfaction?”

  1. I think we all want some form of companionship even if we’re not looking for marriage. A few “best friends” helped me get through some tough times in college.

    For friendships, I think the key is to cultivate them. But I haven’t the foggiest how to do it. Unlike you, I moved away from most of my friends, so it’s a similar boat. Fortunately, I have a Micah for company, but I still want girlfriends.

    Posted by Mrs. Micah | April 3, 2008, 12:44 pm
  2. @Mrs. Micah:
    I’m sure you’re right, and I’m never sure how to cultivate friends either. People that I like, I get on with, and we may become friends, but I don’t do anything special to encourage that. Perhaps that’s an issue? I’ve had previous relationships where I drifted into relying on my boyfriend (and sometimes his social circle) for company, and I don’t think it was the best thing for me. I prefer to have different personalities around me, rather than just one.

    Posted by plonkee | April 3, 2008, 12:52 pm
  3. At the end of the day when your laying in bed, concentrate and think of everything that makes your life good and enjoyable. Don;’t think of anything negative instead counter any negative thought. If you miss some of your old good friends don’t think about how you miss them but instead think of all the good times you had with them and be happy that you got to share that part of their life with them.
    To be happy with what you have you have to change you mind set. It’s natural to want more and not be satisfied with what you have but you have to conquer that feeling and be happy that you have a job, a home etc. Be happy that your well off, or whatever you find good about your life.
    Imo, haha.

    Posted by Save Money | April 3, 2008, 2:15 pm
  4. Btw your captcha is working oddly, I was taken to another page and give an error message with the captcha.

    Posted by Save Money | April 3, 2008, 2:16 pm
  5. @Save Money:
    It’s a bit of a conundrum as to whether I should count my blessings, because really I am happy. Or alternatively, I should try to change things, because really I am not.

    Not being sure of the answer, I guess I should try and do both.

    Posted by plonkee | April 3, 2008, 2:58 pm
  6. ‘It never rains but it pours’. I think experiencing disappointment in your working life can be a catalyst, highlighting other areas of your life you don’t feel satisfied with.

    I honestly think friendships are hard work. They need lots of attention from both parties, and when one party is busy (you mentioned mothers) it can start to feel you’re not getting back what you’re putting in. I think you *will* find people you identify with, and have longterm, spontaneous friendships with. I think this is a temporary interesting-people-draught and you will just need to wait it out until you find some better friends. I have the same tendency of making friends with outward-looking travelling types who inevitably get called home at some point!! I’ve never regretted it though.

    As for your job, it may be a blessing in disguise. Promotions usually mean longer hours, no time for a social life and no time for your hobbies, like personal finance fun :) I think it’s great to have free time, so you can do all that and when you find the right people, you’ll be able to invest time in getting to know them too. Plus I really enjoy your articles! x

    Posted by Kerstin Doe | April 3, 2008, 3:56 pm
  7. In my experience if you have a niggling feeling of dissatisfaction it’s for a reason, and trying to ignore it won’t help in the long run, so it’s good you are thinking about it. While counting your blessings is good for putting things in perspective I think you should allow yourself to explore the negative thoughts.
    If you’re not feeling challenged enough is there some way to add that, can you take some course for accreditation? Get added to another project slightly outside your current interests/ department?
    For me I get bored (and then become unhappy) when I am not learning new things, there wasn’t opportunity at work so I started evening classes, completely unrelated to my job, but stimulating enough to have me feeling happier at work.
    As for the friendships, I can relate, every time I have moved cities and had to start over I got a little depressed with my social circle. Unfortunately I have no advice, for me it simply took time, sorry.

    Posted by Looby | April 3, 2008, 4:04 pm
  8. Find God. I know, I know, you’re an atheist. But I truly do believe what St. Augustine said: “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Churches are also good places to meet people who share your values. I’m pretty sure some atheists attend Unitarian Churches and Quaker meetings.

    Otherwise, maybe take a look at some of the “shallower” friendships you have and try to make them into deeper ones. This involves taking risks, opening up, making yourself vulnerable, etc. Just try talking about some personal things that you wouldn’t usually talk about except with very close friends. Not necessarily dumping the story about how you were sexually abused by your grandfather, but maybe about what you want out of life, your existential crises, whatever.

    Posted by Canadian | April 3, 2008, 7:12 pm
  9. Another problem that I have is not having enough friends. Actually, that’s not true, I’ve got some really good friends, it’s just that in the last couple of years nearly all of them have moved away. I catch up with various people pretty often, but I don’t know anyone (apart from colleagues) to do anything spontaneously with.

    You could be describing me here, I’m going through exactly the same thing at the moment.

    Posted by debtdieter | April 3, 2008, 7:55 pm
  10. I relate to what you describe here. Regarding the job, it sounds like you are taking the best tactic, looking and doing the best job you can. You might read some self-help stuff about how to negotiate and get ahead in the workplace in case it helps. Regarding friendships, what I’ve noticed in places where I have lived is that it is harder to make and sustain friendships out of college, partially because as you have noted, people’s life circumstances change. What worked the best for me was joining a sports team, that gave me a social group and a lot of social events. Taking evening classes also helps, in something you really enjoy. It takes about a year to get deep friendships from this, but it helps. I don’t know anything about you other than that you write this personal finance blog from London, but if you can find a way to make your hobbies more social it really helps. Good luck!

    Posted by Liz | April 3, 2008, 8:51 pm
  11. @Canadian:
    Interestingly, although I’m about as far as can be from believing in god, I am thinking about going to a Quaker meeting for worship in a couple of weeks. There’s a short one at lunchtime near where I live, and I think the silence will do me good.

    @Looby and debtdieter:
    It’s nice to know that I’m not alone on the friends front, even if it does mean that we’re all suffering together.

    That’s probably a good idea. I need to stop thinking of new things to do at home, and think of more social things instead.

    Posted by plonkee | April 3, 2008, 9:27 pm
  12. I’m permanently somewhat dissatisfied :) as my globe-hopping no doubt testifies, so I’ll just sympathize rather than offer the solution.

    It’s really, really hard to form real, new friendships when you’re our age (actually, I have no idea what age you are, but I’m 31 and I assume you’re not too far off that). I discovered this in quite a disheartening way when I moved to Canada a couple of years ago - you can occupy your time with drinking buddies and neighbours, but it’s pretty difficult to find proper friends. The tried and tested method is to get out of the house as much as possible and get yourself into “activities” you like anyway, but I’ve not found that this works properly - everyone goes their separate ways after the public space committee meeting or whatever. But keep throwing yourself out there!

    As for work, one thing I’ve always noticed is that you seem to like what you do a lot, although it seems like it’s the role rather than the specific corporate environment, right? That’s pretty rare, so I hope you can work it out. I guess I’d have a word with your boss before quitting altogether, but sometimes you just have to move on.

    Good luck! Hang in there, seems like you have a lot of buddies online you can always vent to, and I include myself in that.

    Posted by guinness416 | April 3, 2008, 11:25 pm
  13. Plonkee - Sounds great! I hope I go to a Quaker meeting once a year (Remembrance Day). That silence is very powerful, I’m sure I would benefit from going more often (but I attend an Anglican church at the same time slot). Quakers are friendly and they are the type of people I have a lot in common with, politically speaking. The last time I was there they were writing a letter to protest the Canadian government’s inaction over a Canadian on death row in the United States (this happened after the period of silence, of course).

    Posted by Canadian | April 3, 2008, 11:35 pm
  14. ARRGH. Delete that “I hope”. I think I was going to say I hope you get something out of it.

    Posted by Canadian | April 3, 2008, 11:36 pm
  15. @guinness416:
    I too have found that it’s hard to use activities to make friends. I used to do evening classes in Dutch (because I wanted to learn it) and whilst we all got on well in the class, we just didn’t really hang around afterwards.

    Work itself gets complicated. I like what I specialise in, and when I get to do that I’m really happy. The company I work for is pretty good - not dysfunctional, but nothing special. I’m passionate about the value of the industry that I work in, and I wouldn’t like to leave that. I’m just not looking forward to a year of doing the same things that I’ve been doing in the past year.

    And online friends are awesome.

    I get what you mean :) . I’m pretty sure I have a lot in common with Quakers, apart from the god thing, and I’m probably not quite (but am nearly) as pacifist as they are. I’m quite looking forward to the meeting, it’s a bit annoying that I can’t go for a couple of weeks as I have some other commitments.

    Posted by plonkee | April 4, 2008, 8:47 am
  16. 1) If you are feeling “left behind” at work, then that may result in feeling unappreciated and result in resentment in the long term. It might mean you would be more appreciated (with ££ and promotions) at another place.
    2) Making friends - I am an expat in London and have found many friends by joining Toastmasters - not only have my communication skills improved (always helpful), the members are very social - 18 nationalities in my club and they always go to a pub (even those who stick to soda water) after the meeting. Some of us travel together to other clubs to get new ideas. We have parties.

    I am a strong advocate of doing things you like - it is the only way to find friends you like and if you don’t find a friend at least you are doing something you like

    Posted by Carrie Gillespie | April 4, 2008, 11:51 am
  17. Go visit your friends that’s the great thing about having friends that move away. Make it a priority to maintain those friendships.

    Also, you are like me, I love love love my job. There are alot of people who despise and dread getting up and going to work. Before you quit write the pros and cons on two sides of one sheet of paper.

    Shake it off, take up a sport (bowling, golf, tennis..)

    Posted by Dakota Brown | April 4, 2008, 4:04 pm
  18. So I notice that when I’m unhappy in one area of my life, it bleeds into other areas. I think it’s normal, but can be deceptive (alternately, it could be illuminating). It can’t hurt to explore further though, and find a solution to the dissatisfaction, regardless of whether it really exists.

    As for developing friendships - I have found that some of my closest friendships have been formed not by actual cultivation of those friendships but by cultivation of the activities that tie us together. The friendship follows.

    And as for the job - comparison is kind of a funny thing. I took a quiz once that told me that I would likely be underpaid (because of the way I am) relative to my peers in similar fields/jobs. But some of those peers also work at places that I know would make me unhappy. So how do you decide?

    Posted by deepali | April 4, 2008, 5:40 pm
  19. I’ll go a step further from everyone else and say that if you figure out the answer to this question, write a book, because it will be the biggest bestseller of all time. The question of whether to be happy and accept what we have or be dissatisfied and seek something new is one of those questions that torments almost all of us, isn’t it? I mean, I’m pretty happy with my life, but I don’t feel like I have the same kinds of friends I had in university so I feel like something is missing. Is that evolution or is something missing?

    Seriously, that’s a fundamental question and it’s almost impossible to answer. I guess my best stab at it would be to say that if you aren’t happy, then you aren’t happy. Clever, eh?


    Posted by Brip Blap | April 5, 2008, 1:35 am
  20. I am not sure if this might make any sense.

    Have you considered joining some associations like Rotary etc., that may offer completely non work related avenues to meet people.

    Even the Hash House Harriers may make sense if you are into running and such.

    Having said this, the feeling of a little emptiness that you are going through will go away soon.

    Like Deepali said, the dissatisfaction has just overflowed from the job issue.

    Posted by fathersez | April 6, 2008, 7:12 am
  21. It is difficult to see others succeeding at work when you feel stagnant or underappreciated. But as someone else mentioned, promotions often mean longer hours & more professional commitments. Quite often, I see guys where I work jumping from one job to another for the sake of a few cents more an hour, with no regard to the personal impact the change will have. Frequently, they end up having to be on-call on some weekends, having a far greater workload, and spending a great deal of their time under the gun. If you thrive on deadlines & pressure, then great. But you need to consider whether the little extra money is worth the sometimes consider extra baggage.

    My wife actually did the unthinkable - which still has some of the folks at her workplace scratching their heads - and stepped down (it was a quasi-lateral move) from a more advanced position into another position that earns about $.35 less an hour. But in doing so, she moved out of a bad working environment and stopped having to carry a pager after-hours. 4 years later, she’s crafted a management position out of thin air and has more than made up for the slight loss in pay - and still only works 40 hours a week!

    Morale of the story - money doesn’t equate to happieness or even job satisfaction.

    Posted by Rob O. | April 6, 2008, 12:59 pm
  22. Well, one thing that’s great about this thread of comments is that it shows we’re all in the same boat: the older you get, the harder it is to make new friends!

    I find it virtually impossible now, in my old age. People are married or in committed relationships. They’re fully engaged with their partners or spouses, and so they’re not available to do things spontaneously with someone else — especially if the someone else is single.

    SDXB (Semi-Demi-Exboyfriend) found himself feeling very lonely and dissatisfied when he moved to Sun City, an old folks’ ghetto in a rapidly urbanizing former suburb. After a short period of feeling sorry for himself, he devised a plan to actively seek new acquaintances. He started exploring new activities, among them ballroom dancing, church, volunteering, and bike riding.

    Now he has a new girlfriend, he goes dancing two or three times a week (!), he has new hiking friends (including a woman 30 years his junior), and he has places to go during the week on a regular basis. He distinguishes between “friends” — who, he admits, are still few and far between — and “acquaintances,” of whom he now has quite a few. Far as I can tell, the guy is having the time of his life.

    So it may be a matter of making a list of things to do that will bring you into contact with new people and then launching a campaign to do them.

    In the “spontaneous” department, I’ve found that even my busiest friends (all two of them) appreciate being invited for dinner at the last minute. When people work all day, they’re grateful to have someone else fix a meal. You can keep the cost of this enterprise down by serving things like pasta and crock-pot meals — it’s not so much WHAT you feed them but THAT you feed them.

    Posted by Funny about Money | April 7, 2008, 2:30 pm
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