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People who are accomplished in work sometimes define life problems as career issues because that’s where they have the greatest sense of competence and control.
The bottom dropped out of Debbie’s world when her husband died of lymphoma. She’d just gotten a law degree, passed the bar and was about to launch her second career when he was diagnosed.
She put aside job hunting to care for him. After his death, she started looking for work. She needed to feel that sense of competence and control again.
She landed a job as an attorney working in a government agency. A year later, however, she was asking “Is this all there is….?” She was on the verge of a launching a nationwide job hunt when she realized she might be addressing the wrong issue.
The truth was her job was ok. It wasn’t overly taxing, but she was making a worthwhile contribution. She enjoyed her co-workers, the physical environment and the diversity of her tasks. The pay wasn’t great, but money wasn’t a major issue for her.
What was in need of attention was her personal life, something more difficult to tackle than a job hunt. She needed to take on the challenge of reaching out, meeting new people and becoming socially active more than she needed a new job.
Work satisfaction is central to our lives but it isn’t everything. People who find a good deal of satisfaction through work sometimes need to realize work is “good enough” so they can attend to other important issues in their lives.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)