tshirtAre are currently sitting in a job soaking in restless hours of discontent, sour and stagnant, desiring something different, more status, better pay, fulfillment for a change? As a career coach I assist others in exploring whether they are simply unengaged, need to grow to the next level, or whether they really are where they need to be, but simply discontent. You’re not crazy. We all have those seasons. This time of year some would say it’s Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I wrote a column about this well over ten years ago and a recent blog post, Just DO IT! There’s nothing new on the horizon now except that there are more people seeking fewer jobs. Could the drastic changes to the job market be at the core of a possible season of discontent? Whether it’s your job or your current station in life, consider the wisdom of Charles R. Swindoll and examine where you fall.

CONTENTMENT by Charles R. Swindoll, The Quest for Character

Everybody says they want it, but most people run right by it.

Contentment is the lonely hitchhiker reflected in the rearview mirror as the transfixed driver hurdles by on the expressway. Few bother to notice they’ve sped past the very thing they kept saying they were looking for. imagesCA72UHLLAnd even if they did notice a blurred object in their peripheral vision, there was really not time to slow down and investigate. It went by too fast. And the traffic speeds on.

Books on contentment decorate the windows of a thousand bookstores. And keep right on selling. Isn’t it strange that we need a book to help us experience what ought to come naturally? No, not really. Not when you’ve been programmed to compete, achieve, increase, fight, and worry your way up the so-called “ladder of success” (which few can even define). Not when you’ve worshipped at the shrine of PROMOTION since adolescence. Not when you’ve served all your life as a galley slave on the ship of Public Opinion. To you, contentment is the unknown “X” in life’s equation. It is as strange to you as living in an igloo or as unheard of as raising a rhinoceros in your backyard.

Face it. You and I are afraid that if we open the door of contentment, two belligerent guests will rush in – loss of prestige and laziness. We really believe that “getting to the top’ is worth any sacrifice. To proud Americans contentment is something to be enjoyed between birth and kindergarten, retirement and the rest home, or (this may hurt) among “those who have no ambition.”

contentmentStop and think. A young man with keen mechanical skills and a little interest in academics is often counseled against being contented to settle for a trade right out of high school. A teacher who is competent, contented, and fulfilled in the classroom is frowned upon if she turns down an offer to become a principal. The owner of El Pollo Loco on the corner has a packed-out joint every day – and is happy in his soul, contented in his spirit. But chances are, selfish ambition won’t let him rest until he opens ten other places and gest rich – leaving contentment in the lower drawer of forgotten dreams. A man who serves as an assistant – or any support personnel in a ministry, company, or the military – frequently wrestles with feelings of discontent until he or she is promoted to the top run of the scale – regardless of personal capabilities.

Illustrations are legion. This applies to mothers, homemakers, or nuclear scientists, plumbers or cops, engineers or seminary students, caretakers or carpet layers, artists or waitresses. This ridiculous pattern would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic . . . and common. Small wonder so many get frostbitten amidst the winter of their discontent.

“Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well,” wrote Shakespeare. It’s a curious fact that when people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other. I seriously fear we are rapidly becoming a nation of discontented, incompetent marionettes, dangling from strings manipulated by the same, dictatorial puppeteer….

Now I warn you – this isn’t easy to implement. You’ll be outnumbered and outvoted. You’ll have to fight the urge to conform…It is a learning process, often quite painful. And it isn’t very enjoyable marching out of step until you are convinced you are listening to the right drummer.

imagesCAWZAJZ3When you are fully convinced, a new dimension of your character will take shape. And as that occurs, two things will happen: (1) Your strings will be cut, and (2) you’ll be free indeed! And surprise! You’ll find that lonely hitchhiker you left miles back sitting in the passenger seat right beside you …smiling every mile of the way.

Worth pondering: You can’t have everything. Where would you put it? – Steven Wright

~From the desk of Becky Morlok~

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