A great job on paper. But not feeling it.

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    Hello all,

    Back in June this year, I finally quit a job I had been miserable at. I’d quit my job and I’d come to some startling realisations about myself. I’d come to a grinding halt and I was completely devoid and empty of motivation, willpower or energy. I only wanted to sit by myself and look inside. I took a month off. When I quit my job, I had absolutely no idea of what to do next, and I didn’t want an idea either. I just wanted to be, with no expectations from anyone upon me.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, an offer came my way that seemed to have everything I wanted out of my working life. It had respectable timings, that allowed one to have a personal life; it was not a high pressure job at all; it was with a non-profit, which I thought would give my work some sense of greater meaning. And the offer I was made was considerably higher than what I was getting in my old job. Everything seemed perfect! And even through the interview rounds, I never ‘tried too hard’ or ‘appeared too eager.’ I knew I must stay true to myself and if it was to come to me, it would.

    Turns out I got the job. I’ve been at it a month now. It’s a small and peaceful office (if a little too quiet for someone who comes from a media agency background, but it affords me peace of mind.) It’s good money. The people are nice and warm and friendly. It’s not a bureaucratic office (unlike my old job) and there is a general spirit of collaboration between everyone. There has been no pressure on me to do anything – the general attitude is “spend a few months observing and understanding and then get into the thick of it.”

    And still, I feel like I did something wrong. I feel like I shouldn’t have accepted the offer, because I was doing it only for the money. I feel like I should have taken more time off and waited for other things to come my way, or waited to try other things, and then I should have jumped.

    About 1.5 months ago, I was at a spiritual retreat and I asked the teacher, “What is the purpose of anything that we do?” He replied by saying “If you want to understand purpose, look at your motive.”

    When I applied this to my current job, I realised that I’d accepted it for the money – and that money was an extrinsic motivator, which meant it would soon stop being effective.

    And I feel like that is happening. I just don’t care as deeply about my job right now, as I would in earlier jobs. Everyday I go in with a sense of anxiety. I don’t WANT TO DO what it asks of me. What it asks of me is not difficult or complex. But at every minute, there’s a voice in my head screaming “No, I don’t want to do this. This is not what I want to do. Stop it.”

    Yet, I have no idea what else I want to do. The only thing I definitely feel is that I’m not living in sync with myself.

    When I try to look at it rationally, I want to smack myself! “It’s a good job, it’s a higher pay in a rough job market, it’s giving you time to focus on your personal life, what more could you ask for?” is the rational response to my discomfort.

    My question to the community is this: Has anyone faced something similar? Where there is no apparent or immediate problem in your working conditions, yet you feel a sense of unease? You feel like there is something better and more fulfilling out there, even though you don’t have a clear idea of what it is? What have you done? How have you tackled the voice inside you?



    There are many components to your question, and it seems like part of what you’re struggling with is figuring out how to follow your heart. Its no wonder that you feel anxiety, your mind is beating you up the whole day. Imagine you had a monkey on your back smacking you in the head all day. Talk about a headache!

    I recognize that you’re perceiving a split. On one hand, there is the job that has good conditions, decent environment, fortuitous returns on time spent. On the other, you have a desire inside which is trying to help you awaken to a deeper nature. This makes sense to me, and preludes rebirth. Said differently, perhaps the vibrations you feel are like birthing contractions. Neither mom nor baby can rush it, it is a function of nature and unfolds as it needs to.

    Perhaps consider that your awakening isn’t something which happens outside the job, but the job is a factor in it. For instance, imagine a man who loves a woman, and wishes to make love to her, join her in a sacred union of hearts. Then, she takes off her robe and happens to be wearing red undergarments instead of white, and in his dream they were white. Suddenly, the intimacy with the woman dismantles and the sacred moment is lost as she is rejected for not “being right”. This is what I see happening in your journey right now. You were passed a boon by nature, and feel hate for it… as though it is not good enough.

    Consider a different and radical approach. Consider accepting that the job you have is exactly where you need to be to learn what you need to learn. Then, look at how your mind is violent against a loving backdrop. Said differently, as you let go of the need for a bigger dream, the joy that is staring you in the face reveals itself. Then, there is no struggle, only gratitude.

    My teacher described it as “old boss, just like the new boss”. Or said differently, even if you quit, the restlessness will follow you. How blessed are you to have a situation where you can see that the aggression in your mind is happening from your side! That you paint these incredibly dissatisfying strokes upon an otherwise nurturing canvas!

    If you’re with me this far, consider two more ideas. First, the solution to our puzzles are not in the external, such as finding just the right conditions (“job in alignment” or “better fitting job to my higher purpose”) rather it is in relating to any conditions in a loving way. To do this, we stop hoping the outside will give us the peace we seek, and we cultivate it inside us. Have you been keeping up the meditation practice from the spiritual retreat? Do you cultivate metta? Those are the keys, no matter what job you’re in.

    Second, the lack of motivation is perhaps from too much “me” focus. My teacher said that generosity is the cause of joy, and as we fall into patterns of restlessness and tastelessness, often looking for ways to help the growth around us will revitalize the vibrancy. For instance, perhaps volunteering at a soup kitchen. Listen for a coworker in distress and give aid. Even putting a little money in one of those “in need” canisters. Use what power you have for the benefit of others. It makes a huge difference.

    Then, as you strengthen your heart, the disturbance settles. This job or new job, here or there… the heart will lead you from stone to stone across the river. Namaste, friend.

    With warmth,


    I just wanted to thank TheAwakening for sharing about your experience, and Matt, for your perspective!!

    I entered an uncannily similar situation at the beginning of August. I had a strong feeling that I would get the job, and dreaded the phone call that I knew would offer the job. And yet, when it was offered, something inside told me “Yes! Take it!!”. My spiritual journey had really slowed in the past while, and the conflict that I’ve felt while working in this new job has worked as a boot in the rear to bring much more focus to it. I still have really challenging days – like today – but then amazing things happen to counteract it. Like the gentleman that randomly appeared and sold me a beautiful crystal. I have become more and more connected with my intuition as time goes by, it is truly amazing. I am also looking at adding to the volunteering that I do, continuing my education in Social Work, and I’ve even started to consider the possibility of fostering children one day.

    My story aside, I really appreciate hearing about someone else’s story. I’ve been working hard at doing the best I can, and have a lot of gratitude and excitement with all that has happened. Some days, of course, are extra challenging… I find it really comforting to hear of someone else in a similar situation. To borrow Matt’s metaphor – it gets a little overwhelming on these stones, while the river is rushing by! So best wishes, from my stone to yours 🙂


    Wow… Thanks to you all for sharing so much. I’m new to the forum and it is really inspiring to see you all contribute so much!

    TheAwakening: To answer your question, yes. I have definitely had that feeling that something was “missing” and a general sense of uneasiness, even when everything seemed great on the surface. I’ve gone through that many times throughout my life. For nearly 20 years, I struggled to find a sense of “fulfillment”. It was like a moving target that always seemed to elude me. No matter what changes I made or what I achieved, that feeling that something was missing always seemed to creep back up.

    I went from the dot-com start up days to the corporate world of business strategy, then left it all to spend my days doing only what I loved — yoga, meditation, painting, music, etc. But then, my savings ran out! After that, I went back to “doing things for money”, struggling the whole time to find balance. I worked for non-profits, produced art and music events, worked in the entertainment industry, everything! It all looked so great on the surface, but I always still had a sense that I wanted something more…

    What finally made a big difference for me was getting back in touch with myself. I mean, really, really going deep, past all the layers and layers of conditioning, my ego, etc, all of which clouded my true vision and relationship with myself.

    I made a conscious decision to reconnect with ME… my true, innermost self. I also decided to stop being so hard on myself. Like Matt said, don’t beat yourself up over your choices, or what you deem to be “wrong” choices. Who’s to say what is “right” or “wrong”? All that matters is that you are constantly given the opportunity to learn from your experience. AND, you always have the power to make changes and choose a new path and direction.

    What helps me stay centered is trusting that I am always exactly where I need to be. Looking back on my life, I can see that everything has shaped me into who I am today… even the “bad” decisions have played an integral role in my personal growth.

    So, perhaps it will help you to feel more at peace if you can remember that you are exactly where you need to be right now… and that deep down, you know everything you need to know. All the answers are within you, including why you have a sense that something is “not in sync”.

    Perhaps this feeling is leading you back to yourself…

    It has a been a long road of self-discovery for me. I am still on the path, but it gets easier and easier every day.

    Best wishes to you!! It sounds like you are truly on a path of awakening… it can feel so unsettling, but stay with it and return to the real you!!!



    I definitely wanted to share my experiences with you because they are very similar.

    I just recently graduated college with the hopes of getting a job that would be motivating and awesome and perfect. I would have a difference in the community that would align with my goals of teaching nature and being outside. Expectations, expectations. They set me up for a false sense of reality…

    When I did get a job (very thankful for, of course), I went in there feeling like I was going to make a difference. Instead, 75% of my day is answering phone calls, 10% dealing with people, and 15% making programs for kids (like i wanted). The red tape in our organization prevents new ideas from being implemented, so you’re set in the monotony of the typical workday. It can be depleting to your sense of worth and motivation to do the job.

    From month 1 to month 3, I felt that general uneasiness you were referring to. This job did not provide the challenges that I needed to fuel my brain. I declared to my friends (not to my parents, thank goodness) that I would be quitting and farming/traveling instead. “Gotta travel while you’re young.” What an amazing life that would be, huh? I could just break my lease, take my dog with me (right?), and quit.

    And the friend that I trust the most just straight up told me: “you have unfinished business here. you started something, and you should finish it. there was a reason you were so excited about this job. find it out.”

    Digest that advice as you will.

    So, I wanted to talk about some of the things that you pointed out:

    Your teacher told you to look at your motive in order to find your purpose. If I, as an observer, looked at your motive, this is what it would be:

    ” It had respectable timings, that allowed one to have a personal life; it was not a high pressure job at all; it was with a non-profit, which I thought would give my work some sense of greater meaning. And the offer I was made was considerably higher than what I was getting in my old job.

    You weren’t doing it only for the money. Money was an added bonus.

    You had high expectations of this job, but it didn’t turn out to be as great as you imagined in your mind.

    Expectations, Expectations… think about the power they had in determining your satisfaction with the job.

    You say that your tasks are not difficult or complex–maybe that’s the issue. Because you aren’t challenging yourself, you feel anxiety. Ask your supervisor how you can have more responsibility. Or join with other co-workers to find how what they do and how they do it. Set your eyes on a goal at work and do small things to gain trust in your co-workers at your non-profit. And have faith that groups like your own have the potential to change the community–that’s important. Just find a tiny part of your job that you might enjoy, and don’t be afraid to tell your co-workers what you would like to see in your future. Chances are, they have probably been in a similar situation, and they can give you advice.

    Plus, there are always opportunities to set goals in your personal life. Sit down with a cup of tea and some good music, and write down your personal goals. And keep them with you at work so you can try to implement them whenever you can.

    With all these voices inside your head, it’s difficult to find clarity. I understand. But one thing that might be proving difficult to you is your transition from a “miserable” job–one that you constantly thought about after work–to one that doesn’t require that extra headache. Your previous goals were to just get through the day–survive. Now what are your goals? Maybe you’re struggling with what to think about, what to surround your life with, and who. This can lead to anxiety and a lack of fulfillment. With extra personal time, you have the perfect opportunity to set goals and stick to them. To find friends, and to learn with them.

    You’re in this situation. Although your work environment has the potential to be fulfilling, work is an externality. The lack of fulfillment has nothing to do with your working conditions, its your perceptions of them. Because reality doesn’t add up to your preconceived expectations of your situation.

    My suggestions are to make your office or working environment as comfortable as you can. Open windows, get plants with pretty pots, bring snacks to treat yourself, bring artwork to hang on your wall, do nice things for your co-workers, stay organized, ask for responsibility, get dressed like you will succeed, and stay positive. Outside of work, set goals for yourself that you want to achieve–and do them. Surround yourself with positive people and positive energy.

    And a note on expectations… It’s okay to want the best from everyone and every situation–that’s human nature. But as soon as you are okay with everything, then everything will be okay. So try to let go of expectations and you’ll see the possibilities.


    Hi Michelle,

    Thank you for such an honest response. I do feel like I’m on a path of self-discovery, and it leaves me feeling very unsettled at times, almost as if I’m living with a stranger in my body and mind. This process of honest introspection started a few months ago, and perhaps I have not given it all the time it needs, to complete. That’s a big guilt factor I’m dealing with – I feel like I should have taken more time off and spent it in quiet meditation, to further open up my spiritual world.

    Your path sounds similar to the one I’m on – I’ve dabbled in 3 different verticals of the media industry, each time hoping I would find ‘it’ to settle upon. One of my biggest self-discoveries was this – I can do a job, but not a career.

    When you say that you got back in touch with yourself – may I ask how? What tools did you use, that helped you look beneath all the layers of conditioning to uncover who you really are? I started that process when I was bedridden with a kidney problem – but now that I’ve returned to “normal” life, I find my self-awareness slipping at times. I find that my personal growth is slowing down. How do you keep it going?

    I’m looking forward to your response. Thanks again, for being who you are 🙂


    This has really helped me too. In a very similar situation – a job that seems ideal on paper, but doesn’t feel stretching enough, and I’ve been winding myself up dreadfully about it. Katie – your comments especially rang bells for me. Thank you so much. This sentence especially: “The lack of fulfillment has nothing to do with your working conditions, it’s your perceptions of them.” You are so right, I need to look at it differently.


    Hi Awakening. You know, I could write a whole book about my path and journey so far! I totally relate to what you are going through…

    Regarding your question about how I got back in touch with myself, it was a meandering process that took place over a long period. As part of my “seeking”, I tried so, so many tools / techniques / approaches. Some worked better for me than others. And sometimes, it just depended on where I was in my life at the moment. So, it was really a combination of things. Everything from meditation, energy healing, writing, mantras, affirmations, yoga, reading, etc.

    In terms of getting back in touch with who I truly am, I had to learn to go back to what really makes me happy… and began to think back to times when I was a child, before all the social conditioning, to remember what I enjoyed.

    You know, I am actually very, VERY passionate about this topic. I have spent over a decade on this… the process of discovering who we truly are… reconnecting with our true self. I believe that it is only then that we find true happiness and fulfillment. Otherwise, we can have all the “success” in the world, yet still always feel like something is missing.

    I am actually building a new iPhone app that is specifically designed to help people get back in touch with who they truly are. I didn’t mention it earlier because I didn’t want to seem like I am spamming the forum. 😛 So, I never put a link to the site.

    You can get a sneak peek of it here: http://www.IntuitionJournal.com

    Do you have an iPhone? If so, I’d love to give you a promo code so you can download the app for free. It hasn’t launched yet, but I can share more info about the app with you privately, via email. 🙂 Perhaps it would be helpful for you?

    Oh, sorry! I didn’t answer your question about “how to keep it going”. Gosh… you know, I realized that whenever life was “normal” and flowing well, I always got kinda lazy, in terms of nurturing my soul. I mean, during times of crisis and confusion, I go all out! Meditating every day, yoga, writing, etc. But then, when things settle down, I start to slack off. Then, the cycle repeats itself again once a new crisis arises!

    So, for the last year or so, I have been reminding myself EVERY DAY that I need to practice ongoing discipline. Otherwise, it’s like someone who is on a yo-yo diet! So, even just taking a few minutes in the morning to remind myself to nourish my soul totally helps. Also, it is a HABIT. So, whatever you decide to do, try to make it a habit… even if it just means taking a few moments when you first wake up to tell yourself that you are committed to _____ (whatever you want to focus on).

    For me, remembering to TRUST MYSELF and to choose positive thoughts over negative ones, has made a HUGE difference. I suppose part of it is an act of faith… to trust and believe that everything is, and will be, ok.

    It is an ongoing process, but every day I feel more and more connected with myself.

    You know, as the launch date for my app approaches, I feel fear creeping in and I wonder if what I am building will be of value to anyone… and start feeling afraid that it will fail. But, what snaps me out of it is trusting that it is a process… and no matter what happens, I am letting my inner self guide me. So, if I can grow each day and apply myself as best as I can, then, no matter what the outcome of the app may be, it will be a success for me. Does that make sense?

    Thanks for sharing and also giving me an opportunity to share back!!

    P.S. Remind yourself to not feel guilty!! You are aware… and “awakening”… this is a lifelong process, so there is no need to think that you must “let it complete”. Just take it day by day… reminding yourself to accept where you and to not be hard on yourself. Practice LOVING YOURSELF… and being gentle with yourself. 😉


    There has already been some fantastic advice here, but I just wanted to add a couple of things from my perspective.

    The way you are feeling is very, very common. You are not alone, and you are not unusual.

    It’s very easy to feel that the answers to our problems should be simple: I’m not 100% happy in this job, so I’ll change to that job, which doesn’t have the disadvantages that this one has. Then I will be happy. It’s logical, isn’t it? But it’s not that simple, as you’ve discovered.

    And the answer to this problem may not be simply to jump out of this job and into another, or into anything in particular, in fact – you may find yourself feeling just as dissatisfied with whatever else you do instead.

    I am absolutely with Matt on this one – the more we can learn about ourselves, and learn to “stop hoping the outside will give us the peace we seek, and…cultivate it inside us” (as he so succinctly puts it!) the clearer your path will become.

    My advice would be to slow down, take your time. Accept that the happiness you are looking for is not going to come from your current job, and accept that job for whatever it can be – perhaps that’s just a source of income while you go on a journey of self discovery. If you can think of your relationship with your job differently, that may allow you the space you need to work out more about where you really want to go. Focus on the time you get on your personal life instead. Do things you love outside of work, whatever they may be. Learn about yourself. Test yourself. Try new things. Learn about who you really are. When you remove the labels we give ourselves in life, the job titles – who is the person underneath?

    It is surprising how enjoyable the journey itself can be.


    To everyone,

    Thank you for all your insights and advice. I’ve been reading in and taking in what resonates with me.

    I’ve narrowed down on 2 critical things that are making me dissatisfied with this job.

    1. There is zero creativity in it. It’s a managerial post, where there is zero room for creative anything – creative writing, creative problem solving, design etc. There’s no scope.
    2. I am not growing my skill set at all. Coming from the new, dynamic space of digital media, which is constantly changing and growing each day, I have somehow jumped back in time to having to create publications and leaflets. I’m not using my most recent skills, nor am I growing them.

    To be a little more open about things: I’ve moved from a creative space (my last 2 jobs were in the spaces of digital advertising and lifestyle journalism) into a corporate communications role.

    I’m struggling with having no outlet for any of my creative sides – even the style of writing required at this job is more academic than creative.

    It’s a completely alien environment for me too. I work with a not-for-profit which works with government bodies and bureaucrats – that is a world of which I have no knowledge of how it functions, nor how to understand and interact with it.

    I’ve been thinking about this dilemma the past few days and I’ve finally figured out what it is that makes me want to quit this job. I’ve realised I need some creativity in and around my life – I’ve always worked in jobs that allowed me a creative outlet.

    I’d really really like to know your thoughts on how I should approach this.


    Hi Michelle,

    Yes, I absolutely understand what you mean about everyday reminders. I’ve started to spend even just 5 minutes every morning in silence and prayer…and I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter whether I pray to an external deity or meditate upon my inner self – it just matters that I start to train my mind into a few minutes of silence. Else I find the mind can spend hours thinking about itself – it’s like a never ending loop! And yes, I am slowly learning to trust my first instinct, my pure instinct, the thought that emerges when I am not in a state of heightened emotion. That answer is the right answer.

    I’m afraid I don’t have an iPhone – I’m one of them Android peeps 🙂 Still, I would love love love to use your app once it’s on the market.

    A friend, with whom I was discussing this feeling of restlessness, said to me – very often, we KNOW the answer to the question of why this restlessness. We just have to have the courage to DO what the answer demands of us.

    I posted again, at the end of all the replies. I’d love to get your response on my latest update.

    Alexey Sunly

    Well, the most obvious answer would be to find another job that will provide you with an environment that you would enjoy, but if that’s not an option in the short term then find a hobby or an activity that will both challenge you to grow and allow you to express yourself freely outside of your work. Once you get a handle on your new hobby, you might start to profit from it and maybe even be able to build your own full-time business around it 🙂 If you want something specific, then why not start a blog communicating your experience in corporate and advertising culture? You could also look for a lifestyle coach to help you 🙂 It is a very involved task to help someone to find joy in their personal life and career, so it’s worth paying money for the service if you can afford it.

    • This reply was modified 10 years, 7 months ago by Alexey Sunly.
    • This reply was modified 10 years, 7 months ago by Alexey Sunly.

    So glad to know that someone is in similar situation as I do. Has been on the new job for 4 months now, though the job is demanding, I have nice boss and colleagues, better pay and working hours, plus much better benefits than my last job. However, the feeling of despair has been gnawing inside me. Most people will says that I’m not appreciative with what i have but like Alice in Wonderland, I had this feelings that somehow I don’t belong or deserve it. Occasionally overwhelm by my work, it makes me feel like I’m totally inadequate. I’m looking for a challenge when I embark on the job but now it seems and feels like I’m not good enough to handle it. I’ve tried looking at things differently but at the moment, it doesn’t seems to help much. Guess because I’m an expert in putting myself down. Outwardly, I looked confident and professional, but deep in my heart I’m dreading the day that I’ll break down.

    It has occurred to me that the feeling I had, it’s because I’m dependent on the job for the income to service my housing loans and so had put a lot of pressure on myself to excel on the job. Sadly, I’m feeling helpless as to how I can pull myself out of the pit. Currently trying meditation, it help a little, but really hoping that there’s a way to stop the reluctant feeling and dread of work every morning and just enjoy what I have.

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