Putting your job in perspective

July 14, 2008


Q: I'm lost. I don't like my job, and I can't think of a single career I want to pursue. It's tough to even get out of bed in the morning. Where do I find passion for work? - Evan

J.T.: I worked with a sales professional who felt just like you. He honestly believed there wasn't a single career that would make him feel, as he put it, "alive again." That's when I pointed out to him the flaw in his thinking: He wanted his career to fix how he felt. In the same way that people mistakenly believe that a spouse should read their mind and make them feel better, many people think their career is supposed to make them happy, too.

Dale: Many of our readers fall into one of two dreary career categories: there are those who, like Evan, are bored with their work; then there are those who have found something they enjoy and find that that's all they do - their work life has become their entire life. And while there have been piles of books and articles on finding "balance," none seem to truly help. That may have just changed. There's a new book about getting realistic about careers by my writing partner, the delightful J.T. O'Donnell. She calls her new book "Careerealism" (just out on, and at There is an exercise in the book that I wish everyone reading this would undertake right now. Get a pen and give it a try. You score yourself on a seven-point scale, with 7 being "very satisfied," and 1 being "very dissatisfied." Using that scale, rate yourself on these eight items: friends and family, fun/recreation, physical environment, romance/significant other, mental self, finances, career, and physical self

In "Careerealism," J.T. has you put your scores for the eight items on a graph, to make the highs and lows of your life even more visible.

J.T.: Thank you for mentioning my book - I tried to summarize everything I've learned about careers, and perhaps the biggest thing I've learned is to put them in their place. In the case of the exercise you refer to, that's one item out of eight. Once you start to think of careers in that way, you'll figure out jobs that support the other aspects of your life, as opposed to your job being your reason for living. What I would urge Evan to do is refocus his efforts and start looking for a career that does one thing: allows him to contribute in a way that makes him feel valuable. That's the best way to get your work energy to carry over into other aspects of your life.


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