Feeling Bad About Your Career? It's a Good Thing

By J.T. O'Donnell

I’m going to tell you a story and I’d like you to give me a little latitude as you read it – I promise it has a point related to your career.


Last week, I took my 5 year old skiing for the first time. It was an interesting experience. More importantly, it reminded me of a valuable career lesson.

The first hour of skiing was horrible…I mean incredibly bad. It involved tears, lying down on the mountain and more than a few “I want to go home!” comments. It tested every ounce of patience I had. I couldn’t find the right way to teach the snow plow and my little one got more upset with every attempt to explain the finer points of “toes in, heels out” and “make a piece of pizza.” Finally, we took a break. We sat down and over a bag of Skittles, we discussed where the communication was breaking down. After some laughs and a lot of sugar, we went out to try it again. Then, something clicked – my child had an ‘Ah-ha Moment’ and suddenly was snowplowing down the hill. In a matter of minutes, we went from ‘This is bad,’ to ‘Hey Mommy, eat my snow!” (Seriously, I have that being sung to me on tape.) As you can imagine, watching my kid explode with excitement and do run after run down the bunny slope for the remainder of the day was fabulous. We both didn’t want it to end. As we drove home, I realized this experience exemplified something important about our lives – especially, our professional ones. The fact is, sometimes we actually need to struggle, fail, have fear and feel sadness to recognize and appreciate when we actually make progress. My child would not have been nearly as excited about skiing and wanting to improve if it had come easily. The energy felt from finally figuring it out was fueled by the unhappy feelings of repeated failure leading up to it.

What’s my point?

Well, if you are unsatisfied professionally right now (i.e. don’t like your job or are disappointed by a long, unsuccessful job search, etc.), it’s a good thing. It means, when a break-through or advancement comes along, you are going to feel inspired to capitalize on the moment. You’ll be given a burst of professional energy that will catapult you forward.

To sum it up, there is a silver lining to everything – and your career frustration is no exception. If you are feeling the way my 5-year old was on the slopes, then take a break, grab a snack, and get back to trying. The sweet sensation of victory from an ‘Ah-ha Moment’ is coming, but only if you keep at it.

Has anyone experienced this recently? Please share your story below so others can be inspired to keep on trying.

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