As somebody who helps people discover their calling, I meet a lot of folks who are desperately unhappy in their jobs. They often feel stuck, frustrated, down on themselves, or even hopeless and depressed. They imagine that the solution to their problems is to find better work.
They’re almost right, but not quite.
By the time my clients find work that they’re passionate about, they’re usually far more joyful, energized, and content than when we started. But it’s not really because they have a new job.
1. Wherever You Go, There You Are
You may find a job where you have a better boss. But if your boss’s negative feedback makes you feel smaller than a piece of cockroach poop, then someone at your new job is eventually going to say something that makes you feel the same way.
You may find work that’s better suited to your talents. But if you have a hard time giving yourself credit for what you do well, you’ll still feel like you’re falling short, no matter where you go.
You may find a more flexible job where work/life balance is allowed. But if you have a hard time saying no or letting things be less than perfect, you’re still likely to work long hours and push past your limits.
Sure, how well our job suits us can make a big difference in how we feel. But to find the type of joy, freedom, and fulfillment that most of us long for, we need to stop focusing on external changes and pay more attention to our internal world, because that’s what affects our mood the most, and that’s what we take with us wherever we go.
2. New Challenges Arise
I thought that when I found my calling in coaching and writing, all my problems would go away.
Hahahahaha. [Wiping tears from my eyes.] Whew. Yes, well, um, not exactly.
True, I love what I do, I know that I’m contributing my greatest gifts to the world, and I feel energized and inspired much of the time.
But you know what? Answering my calling brings up all kinds of new challenges: Fears, disappointments, failures, unforeseen obstacles, new skills I have to learn. I have to let the world see more of who I am and what I’m capable of (or not), and I can no longer hide behind the excuse of not really caring about it anyway.
3. Your Answers Change
No matter how happy you are in your job right now, chances are you won’t be forever. One of the great things about us humans is that we’re always growing and changing. As such, what satisfies us now is unlikely to fulfill us forever.
Sometime down the line, you’ll be faced with the same question: “And what should I do now?”
Your job, no matter how great it is, can’t answer that question for you.
What Really Matters
Don’t get me wrong—doing work you love is a good thing, and a worthwhile goal. It’s just that it’s a side product of something far more important.
What really matters is the journey we go on in order to find the work we love.
On that journey, we discover the truth about ourselves and our world. We stop believing every negative thought we have as we find out for ourselves what’s actually true.
We discover how powerful and amazing we are as we uncover our true gifts and all we have to offer the world.
And we make lasting connections with others as we find our home in the world and all the places that we belong.
What’s Possible Is Far Better Than What You’re Probably Imagining
The good news in all of this is that you can find what you’re looking for—contentment, purpose, joy, freedom, happiness, peace, and so much more—long before you make a change.
So the next time you find yourself criticizing yourself for not yet having work you love, remember that you’re on the most heroic journey anyone can go on.
And remind yourself that your journey isn’t successful only when you have a new job. So don’t evaluate yourself on that. Instead, check your progress by reflecting on how much more you know about yourself and the world, how many times you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone, and what contributions you’re making to those around you.
Find Contentment Wherever You Are on Your Path
If joy feels like a foreign concept, if you’re not sure what the next steps should be on your journey, or if you’re having a hard time taking the ones you’ve identified, click here to find out how to get some help. I offer free Clarity Calls to discuss your goals and challenges and whether the individual and group coaching programs I offer could help you find what you’re looking for. A much better question than “What’s wrong with me?” is “What kind of support would help me get to where I want to go?”
Photo credit: Hartwig HKD//CC
Wonderful and timely post, Meredith. I’ve been job hunting and getting frustrated. I am indeed finding that if I do other things I love, it gives me the confidence and support I’m lacking in my current work.
Mary, thanks for pointing to the corollary truth: that just as the perfect job won’t save us, a terrible job doesn’t have to ruin us. I’m glad to hear that you’re finding ways to reconnect to your natural confidence and find support. That’s beautiful, and in my experience is one of the best things you can do to transition into better work.