Does the holiday season make you want to say “Bah, humbug!”? What about job searching? We’ve all at times been mad at what life has brought our way or what we have to do to get what we want. This year, I’ve had the pleasure of acting in a local production of A Christmas Carol, and that wonderful experience has inspired these reflections on what that classic Christmas story has to do with the job searcher. What follows is a free career change counselling lesson focused on your inner game.
Scrooge … Trapped in Bitterness
Some of us (and probably, some part of all of us) are Ebenezer Scrooge, trapped in our bitterness about how our parents treated us or how our boss favored another employee … trapped in our judgments about other people and trapped in our entitlement. The good news? The trap is open, and we can walk out of it any time. How? Scrooge’s life changed when he was visited by three ghosts that showed him his forgotten or repressed past, present realities of which he had not bothered to become aware, and his future. Scrooge began to feel sadness over how he had let jealousy and grief crowd out the joy of his youth. He began to feel empathy for the suffering of others due to the tough blows life can sometimes hit us with. He began to feel fear of the ignominious end toward which he was heading.
Scrooge’s Epiphany: The Joy of Contribution
The result? “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man.” Letting go of his anger and selfishness enabled Scrooge to experience the joy of contribution again. Reconnect to the joy your chosen field gives you and bring that joy to your applications, networking, and interviews. Job searching becomes fun when you realize the job coming your way is a present to you, and you are a gift to your next employer!
Bitter about that a**hole who fired you? Mad at yourself for not getting the right degree? Worried that you don’t make a difference, and no one will want to hire you? Let it all go. Those are the chains of which Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s late business partner, warned. I promise you: none of that matters to the employer who needs you. As Scrooge states, change is not easy, but we can turn on a dime, and by listening to the reminders of the good people around us, keep heading in the right direction … the direction of forgiveness, love, and contribution. Marley realizes too late, “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business.” Remember to make your interview about these values—giving your interviewers hope that you will make their lives better.
Belle … Stuck in What Should Have Been
Some of us (and probably, some part of all of us) are Belle, the fiancée who left Scrooge at the altar, trapped in our longing for someone (maybe ourselves) to be different and grieving how life turned out. Maybe somebody’s life is a fairy tale, but more often than not, our youthful dreams are shattered, and we have to pick up the pieces. Belle gets her salvation by keeping the faith, always remembering what she loved about Scrooge and letting go of her pain and anger over his indifference to her.
Holding out for years waiting for something to change at your organization, or mad at yourself for having done so and wasted too much time? Let it all go. Know that being a believer is not foolish, though you get to change your strategy until your vision comes into reality. Don’t waste time hoping for other people to change, but know that nothing great can be accomplished without faith at a point when faith seems foolish. Anticipate looking back on this time when you were thinking that getting what you wanted would be impossible, but it wasn’t. Look for the best in people and let go of the rest. They don’t mean to hurt you; they are just trapped in their own nightmares. Know that pieces can be just as—or more—beautiful than an unbroken piece. You are dazzling, like a mosaic made from broken glass.
Mom and Pop Scrooge … At Wit’s End
Some of us (or some part of all of us) are Scrooge’s parents, who tried their best to raise a loving, responsible son, but somewhere along the way, they failed. Maybe you tried your best to help an organization, and it just didn’t work out. Maybe you gave so much of yourself you got burned out or forgot to watch your back. Let it all go. You did your best, and you learned from it. Believe that it will all turn out for the best. Remember, the story isn’t over yet.
The Poor and Sick … Didn’t Expect to Be in This Situation
Some of us (or some part of all of us) are the poor people Scrooge scorns for not getting a job and/or the sick left behind by the limits of medicine and health insurance. We did our best, but we got overwhelmed by life’s circumstances, and now we are in a situation we never imagined. Let it all go. The past is over, but the present is a gift. Look for people and organizations to help you get a leg up and look for ways that you can contribute. Know that you are not your circumstances; you are a precious child of God that the right employer will be lucky to find. Like Tiny Tim, give thanks for the gift of each day before you ask for what you need next. As Tim observes, “God bless us, everyone!”
A Happy Ending to Your Career Chapter
At the end of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge becomes a heroic philanthropist, generous to a fault, a dream of a boss, and a loving family man infused with the spirit of Christmas at last. You might look (or feel) like a grumpy person sometimes, but a hero of humanity has been inside you all along. What lucky organization will get to experience this from you in 2018? Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and may you make 2018 your most joyful and fulfilling year of contribution yet.
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