Start With You to Improve Your Job Situation

Our careers grow directly from who we are and how we look at our situation
January 6, 2020 Updated: February 12, 2020

What can you do when life’s challenges force you to take a job you need but don’t want? Is it possible to transform that job into a better one? The answer is yes, but you must first transform how you think about that job.

You can’t always control what happens to you, but the one thing you do control is how you think. Doing so creates the emotions you rely on to self-motivate your ability to bounce back from hardships and persevere until you can turn your situation around. That’s what John did and so can you.

John learned to think intentionally in a non-negative manner to create the emotion of contentment. He then used this self-empowering emotion to transform his perspectives of a job he didn’t want into one that became quite fun.

Here is his story.

John was laid off after working for several years with the same employer. His efforts to find a similar manager’s job weren’t working. After months of being unemployed, John was forced to accept any job he could find. His savings were gone and his unemployment checks were insufficient to pay bills and care for his family. He was getting dangerously close to losing his home.

John took a retail clerk position in a strip mall. This was a big step down. He wouldn’t be using his skills, he disliked his boss, and he thought his coworkers were unfriendly. Even worse, he had to serve his former employees when they visited the store. He felt humbled, ashamed, and embarrassed by his situation. In the meantime, he was continuing to look for a better job.

John asked for my help as a coach and we agreed on working together for three months. It soon became clear that his problems in finding a job weren’t due to his resume, credentials, or job search skills. John was the problem.

He was beaten down and miserable about being laid off, complaining about his interim job, and worried about running out of money and never finding his dream job. Although he tried to appear upbeat and optimistic, all of his troubled thoughts were creating the worst feelings and impressions.

You could see the anger and fear in John’s eyes, hear the doubts and frustration in his voice, and his posture told you he wasn’t emotionally well. Interviewers didn’t want to risk their reputation by hiring him. How John was thinking had made him untouchable, and that’s where we began his transformation.

John started to realize that taking an interim job out of necessity to pay bills and feed his family was a noble purpose. And although this wasn’t his ideal job, he found there was virtue or goodness in working with a clear conscience that he was doing the best he could to fulfill his purpose.

John found new meaning in a job he needed but didn’t want. He started to feel grateful for what he had and stopped complaining about what he lacked. When John changed, his situation changed around him.

John’s difficulties with his boss and coworkers seemed to melt away, and he looked forward to catching up with his former employees when they visited the store. In less than four months, John was offered and accepted an excellent job that put him back on his original career track.

John’s new boss told him he got the job because they admired his attitude, humility, and resilience. They liked how he put his heart into doing his best in a job other people would have complained about. John lacked job satisfaction, but he chose to recognize his career contentment, and that’s not all.

After accepting his new job, John worked out an arrangement to work weekends and holidays at the retail store. Nearly two years later, he was still in the interim job he had needed but hadn’t wanted. He was having fun.

Realize that when you choose not to transform how you think about your situation, you are choosing not to transform your situation. When you’re judgmental and troubled with matters you can’t control, you cause yourself to feel miserable and unlikeable to others. But it costs nothing to transform yourself and your situation by taking control of what you can, which is how you think intentionally in a non-negative manner.

Jeff Garton is a Milwaukee-based author, certified career coach, and former HR executive and training provider. He holds a master’s degree in organizational communication and public personnel administration. He is the originator of the concept and instruction of career contentment.