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The Job That Wants You vs. The Job You Want

During times of challenge at work, I often see people want to quit jobs immediately. They feverishly apply for all sorts of new jobs. They’re excited when they nail an interview or two. The process is a whirlwind and one that could potentially become very problematic...


Your goal should not be to simply the land the job that wants you. Your goal should be to land the job you want. Sounds simple, right? But in times of strife, it’s very easy to remember simple truths. So here’s one: exiting one challenging situation for a less-than-ideal situation doth not make a happy life.

Think about it like a relationship. Do you try to date the people you’re attracted to or do you date whoever likes you and convince yourself it’s a fit. Usually, we do not do the latter. It’s pretty unhealthy to. Yet, how often in life, we mindlessly approach job changes with a sense of laissez faire. It’s as if we are ordering whatever special the waiter mentioned and not even stopping to go, “Wait a minute… I don’t even like mushrooms.”

In my career, I have walked away from big money job interviews and not only decided not to pursue the job, but given the recruiter or hiring manager names of people who would be better suited than I. Why? Well, it’s nice to try and help someone get a position filled because hiring is a lot of work. B. I have tried the, “They like me! I’ll take the job!” routine and it failed miserably. I wound up stressed out and stuck in a gig that didn’t align with my purpose. When that happens, it takes a toll on your sanity, your relationships and your health.

So, how do we avoid this pitfall? Here are some basic things to consider when choosing whether to dip or puruse a new career / job:

  1. If interviewing: Do you actually like the person who would be your boss? Did you get along in interviews? Was there an easy rapport?

Eight years ago, J. Scavo interviewed me for a job at Disney. We talked business and then began talking crap on each other’s teams in the World Cup. After the interview, he would continue to send me jabs about my Brazilian squad. I knew right then that he would be a great boss and I was right. To this day, he’s one of my mentors. Also, I’d like to remind everyone that Italy didn’t even qualify for the 2018 World Cup. You’re welcome, Jay.

On the flip side, I once interviewed with a woman who was so brash and so rude in our phone interview that I thought, “Why is she even talking to me?” I met her in person and had an even more extreme experience. It felt like I was being interrogated on an episode of Law & Order SVU. I walked away knowing that despite the fact the job seemed very interesting, this was not someone I wanted as my boss.

2. Does this job align with your ethics and your career goals?

Anyone can convince themselves of anything when they’re fairly unhappy. I have seen people settle over and over again simply to get out of a less than ideal situation. Here’s the thing though, situations at work often change every 3–6 months. Are you willing to wait it out? I have seen people surreptitiously quit only to regret it later when things at their former gig changed dramatically in a short amount of time. (BTW, if you’re in tech, this goes x 1000 for you. The winds of change blow very, very quickly.)

In Seth Godin’s book The Dip, he outlines when you should quit a job. I love this book and have thought about it many times over the years. It really boils down to mindfulness. We need to make mindful decisions about how we navigate our careers because they affect so much of our lives. This is the place you will spend over 50% of your week at, be careful with it.

3. Where can you be grateful instead of resentful?

Social media ratchets up FOMO like nobody’s business. We all assume that “friend” we know has the dream job. Know what? That other person is not posting who is giving them crap at work. That other person is not going to tell you their boss is a nightmare. That other person is only going to show their highlight reel so that you think they float around on clouds like Oprah on her way to casually landing another billion.

Realize that you might be simply falling into Grass is Greener complex.

Consider this, have you spent any time being grateful for your job? Does your job actually have some pretty cool things about it that you’ve minimized because of a resentment? Are there people at your job who you could invest more in and/or help out? Ironically, being of service to others might bring you more joy in your work experience.

Reframing our work from the perspective of gratitude gives us a fighting chance of making a truly mindful decision when it’s time to move on.

4. Where can an obstacle be viewed as an opportunity

In Ryan Holiday’s book The Obstacle is the Way, he details story after story of great leaders who refused to give up. In each story a problem is presented that is seemingly beyond all hope and each time, these leaders take a bit of space… and find a way to reframe the situation and arrive at solution. One of the beneficial side effects of these stories is that they are so epic (think WWII dramas) that you will look at your situation and think, “Well, I guess, my problem isn’t thaaaat bad.”

It’s easy to have a case of the fuck-its.

It’s easy to give up because you aren’t getting what you want.

You know who else does that?

It’s harder to be patient and ride the waves. It’s frustrating, it’s challenging and it’s a roller coaster of good days and bad days. It is often super duper duper duper duper unfair. So is life. I have experienced work situations so bad that I have cried and had to meditate up to an hour a day to get through them. But you know what, you get through.

That said, if you don’t learn to surf the waves of frustration, you’re not equipping yourself to be the best you can be. Great leaders generally don’t materialize from people who quit when: they didn’t get a promotion, they got a new boss, they received negative feedback, their sales took a dip, policies changed, the IPO is going south…

Great leaders evolve out of finding a way to mindfully assess what you have the power to change, accepting what you can’t and living your life in the balance of that. If you’ve done everything you can and this chapter of your life is done, then close it with gratitude. Gratitude insures you will have the best transition to your next episode.

However, if there is an inkling inside you that maybe, just maybe, you should try looking at this a different way and using a different strategy — give it a go. You might just find out that your dream job is the job you had all along. You have more power than you know.



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@Tatiana pretty much everywhere. I see you. Early adopter. Later regretter. // Marketer, musician, maker. // theblondenames.bandcamp.com