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Hi. I'm Laura.

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The Hidden Cost of Doing the Wrong Work

The Hidden Cost of Doing the Wrong Work

My husband lost his spark.

It was well over a year ago, when we were living in Los Angeles. He had been a working voice actor for several years, and was paying the bills with his work. He was a respected leader in the VO community. He was excellent at what he did. He had it all.

Except that he didn’t. What he had, but lost, was his sense of purpose. He felt disconnected from the work. And as a result, he atrophied.

He sat in front of the computer more, played more video games, did less around the house, and was less engaged with me.

He wasn’t happy with what he was doing, or how he was behaving, but didn’t know what changes to make.

****

A few years earlier, the roles had been reversed.

His career was booming and he was on top of the world. My acting career was only crawling forward, and I got jealous of his success. Everything just seemed to come so easily for him. It’s not that I wanted him to be less successful (well, maybe), but I did want him to have to struggle like the rest of us. It didn’t seem fair.

I couldn’t genuinely celebrate with him when he got a new project. I felt like a failure and couldn’t stop comparing my career to his. I closed off and closed up, because it was either that or say something hurtful that he didn’t deserve.

****

The moral of our stories: let’s not pretend like you’re the only person who’s affected by your deadbeat career.

When your work drains you, bores you, and makes you feel empty, it changes how you behave, and it harms your relationships.

  • How much more could you show up for the people in your life is you were engaged with your work?

  • How much more could you appreciate the people who love you if you loved how you spend your days?

  • What would it be like for your friends and family if you came home from work energized and proud?

****

Luckily, our story has a happy ending. We’re now both doing work that feels like home. And the result? We laugh more, we talk more, we play more, and we also work more. We like what we do and sometimes have to pull ourselves away from our work. But…

Your turn. In the comments, let me know…

Have your relationships ever suffered as a result of doing the wrong work?

  1. Jcsimms222@aol.coom

    June 6th, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    So good – and so true!!!

  2. jennib85@gmail.com

    June 6th, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Love this! Thank you 🙂

  3. kbatty@ymail.com

    June 6th, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Valuable lesson. Thank you for sharing!!

  4. linda@lindasitaliantable.com

    June 6th, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    What a great story! Personal stories like this one make things real. They are not a bunch of bullet points or rules to go by. They are teaching by example – your real example. Everyone should relate to these experiences – and everyone can learn from them. Brava!

  5. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    June 6th, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks, Linda!

  6. christinekerrick@yahoo.com

    June 6th, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    THANK YOU for writing this, Laura! I just ended my 18-month contract at a VERY dry, barely-art-related corporate job, and they may or may not call me back in 3 months. I’m gritting my teeth hoping they don’t. You are right; I was a ‘werewolf’ while at that job. I was a mild-mannered human on the weekend, until Sunday night, when impending Monday promised to creep up, make me rise way too early and go to a job I hated (but it was money). I gained weight, was grouchy, and was mostly too tired to do the art I loved.Now, though my income is teeny-tiny for now, I am ecstatic that I get to work on building my art licensing business, painting, and writing! I feel like these few short weeks out of the job have consisted of me ‘healing’ and even feeling a little guilty for doing what I love. But the guilt is going away. It’s not from God, and it’s not healthy.
    Thank you so much for your blogs. They really do help!
    Blessings,
    Christine

  7. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    June 6th, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Christine, thanks for sharing your story here. It’s a shame we have to heal from bad jobs, but glad you are taking the steps!

  8. vernette@gmail.com

    June 6th, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Thanks for this Laura. I’m really in a funk at work and you are absolutely right, everyone around you is affected when you’re not happy with one area of your life and work is such a big part of that…of course how you feel about yourself in relation to that will affect those around you.
    Thanks for this. The signs are all around me. Something has to change in my life and fast!

  9. brigitta@kahnartists.com

    June 6th, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    I am fortunate to have a job that I enjoy doing, am good at, pays well, and is with a good company. I would never consider that it’s a “deadbeat job”, and I’ve actually passed on some of your programs and content because I felt selfish and guilty for wanting more when, by so many measurements, I have more than enough.
    Until I read this article. The behavior you describe is so much what the past four years have been growing towards for me! I’ve pulled in socially (what I call “turtle-ing”) and I know it’s affecting friends and relationships.

    So now I’m looking at how I act when I come back from an art workshop – something I’d decided to treat myself to a few times this spring – and it’s like someone cranked up the dimmer switch on my spirit. I’m shining! Reaching out to say hi to people, looking forward to conversations, just… sparkling. I’d attributed it to just being excited about the trip and experience itself, but I realize it’s so much more.

    Thank you so, so much for sharing your stories and helping me realize what’s happening. I’m sure there are many people in my world who will thank you, too. 🙂

  10. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    June 6th, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Turtle-ing! Great description. Thank you for participating here, even though you have it pretty good. You deserve “shine most of the time.”

  11. p@pjrvs.com

    June 6th, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    I find if I’m not happy with myself, I can’t be happy for anyone else.

  12. cakehler@mts.net

    June 7th, 2013 at 1:54 am

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I am experiencing several of the signs of unfulfilling work and looking for a way into something more meaningful and energizing.

  13. sage@sagegrayson.com

    June 7th, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    This happened to my husband too. Everything in our relationship changed for the better once he found a career that made him happy. Thank you for sharing your story.

  14. lauracgeorge@gmail.com

    June 7th, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    This is so well-put! I try to tell my clients this, but don’t say it nearly as eloquently. When you’re doing work you love, you really do come home at the end of the day with so much more energy to give to those you love and the other interests in your life. The opposite is so incredibly draining and depressing… I think it’s part of our duty to those we love in our lives to find a career that supports us so we can “show up” as you put it, not to mention a duty to ourselves… an act of self-love.

  15. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    June 7th, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Great point about it being a duty to those we love. Thanks, Laura.

  16. andy@elementfe.com

    June 8th, 2013 at 2:23 am

    What a great reminder that we have a responsibility to do the best we can!And to live according to our best integrity.

  17. Anonymous

    June 9th, 2013 at 12:02 am

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  18. cherishedvision82@yahoo.com

    June 9th, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    This is very true. Jon Acuff talks about this in “Quitter.” He says if you’re miserable in your day job (while trying to make your dream job a reality) and treat it like you’re in prison, it will spill over into your life at home and your efforts to work at your dream job. Once I realized that’s what was going on with me, I changed my perspective and became much more relaxed, much more able to focus on my writing at home, and a better partner to my boyfriend. I am a much happier person now even though I am still not quite in a position to quit my day job for my dream job.

  19. liz.zadnik@gmail.com

    June 10th, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    This is so spot on. What I’m struggling with (my partner as well) is pushing aside the anger, frustration, guilt, shame etc. to (re)discover what makes me feel engaged and energized. Envisioning that life and those days is challenging, but is helping move us forward. Thanks so much for the reminder and the words to describe the impact this has!

  20. Anonymous

    June 10th, 2013 at 6:30 pm

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  21. jaxhouse@gmail.com

    June 11th, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Oh boy did this come in front of me at the perfect time! The last three years have been stressful and unhealthy, in all the ways you mention. While I knew it at the time, now that I am out of the situation I realize it was worse than I thought. Trying to take this time to mend relationships and re-engage my life. All while finding the next steps. Thanks for sharing.

  22. moniqueannaparker@gmail.com

    June 13th, 2013 at 5:12 am

    What a great article Laura, so deeply true indeed!

  23. melvan@melvania.org

    July 11th, 2013 at 5:36 am

    This is so true. Three years ago our family was a mess while my husband was trying to come to terms with the fact he hated the job he was in. After a particularly bad weekend, I told him ‘if you hate it so much just quit, we’ll figure it out’ and he put his resignation in two days later. Even though he was unemployed for a three months, we were all happier & more relaxed during that time than we had been while he was working. Now he’s a bus driver, and even though he’s earning less than he did in his old job, it’s a much better fit for all of us.

  24. Anonymous

    July 31st, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    […] When your work drains you, bores you, and makes you feel empty, it changes how you behave, and it ha… […]

  25. Anonymous

    February 27th, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    […] 11. When your work is energizing, you get to be more more energized in the rest of your life. […]

  26. Anonymous

    January 2nd, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    […] even really enjoy your time off. Having to wear a uniform that makes you feel bad. Bringing your spouse down. Not having the vacation time to see the people and places you care […]

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