He was fresh out of his fellowship with a doctorate. He sat on my white leather sofa as he told me of his new dream job. He spent 10 years of graduate training to get this job, but now he hated it. “It just isn’t what I thought it would be,” he would tell me.
After investigating what this job felt like, it was clear that my client’s dream job provoked his insecurities. All day long he felt like one huge failure.
When coworkers would critique his novice attempts, it felt like he was letting everyone down. When he would return home for solace and respite he was consumed with regret, thinking of situations he could’ve handled better.
My client spent years speculating that this dream job would feel like the pinnacle of satisfaction. And when his job subtly provoked his fear and insecurity instead, he began thinking this just wasn’t the right fit.
He talked about searching for a deeper sense of purpose, as though this job just wasn’t enough. “I need to reach another height,” he would tell me.
When we feel ambivalence about our job we’ll love it and hate it simultaneously. We’ll think there is something better that will make us feel “truly satisfied.”
Instead of searching for the bigger and better, you might want to ensure you’re not running to another job that will only poke at the same insecurities or the same deprived areas of self-knowing.
My first question would be, “What are your triggers?” Are you responding to aspects of your job with hopelessness, feelings of inferiority, worthlessness, or the pangs of regret?
If so, identify what you confront that helps these emotions turn on. Once you know what your experiencing internally that sours your job, you’ll have a lot more information about how to move forward.
For some feeling purposeful might mean tackling your insecurities or feelings of being invisible. For others, a new job might just be the trick.
Don’t settle for a job that makes you feel safe in your reality, but empty in power. If you need to flap your wings and expand your self-concept, don’t let fear keep you “safe.” Respect yourself and trust your power. You can create more safety than any job can ever provide.
After working through my client’s self-doubt and self-deprecating way of relating to himself, he found his passion once again. It was his dream job after all.
We don’t need to keep climbing the latter to actualize our potential- we just need to understand what might get in the way. Insecurity, fear, regret, and hopelessness are good road signs that some shift (either internal or external) needs to happen.
Remember you are not a product to sell; you’re a gift with an offering to leave behind.