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home : columns : dear harriette August 9, 2020

6/19/2020 7:47:00 AM
Underemployed reader needs attitude adjustment

DEAR HARRIETTE: I used to work in TV production, and I loved my job. A few years ago, when the economy was down, I lost my job, and I have been foundering ever since. I now work with a temp agency doing clerical work. I hate this job, but I haven’t been able to find anything else. I think my attitude is getting in my way. Because I really don’t think I should have to be doing this, I sometimes get mad when my boss — whoever it is on a job — piles on lots of administrative work. I just don’t like doing it, and I can get snippy. Or sometimes I don’t complete assignments on time. I realize it’s not because I have too much to do. I think it’s because I resent having to do it. This probably sounds crazy, but I can’t seem to shake my negative mindset. Any ideas? — In a Slump

IN A SLUMP: Most people attach personal value to their jobs. When those jobs change, it can be extremely difficult to feel good about yourself. Losing a job is hard enough, but not being able to find something to do that you love can make the work experience that much harder.

Now that so many people have lost their jobs — more than 40 million — your story will soon be similar to countless others. I think the solution may be to rethink the meaning of work. Instead of longing for your job to equal your value, do your best to consider your job as your source of income. Period. This will make it easier for you to be efficient at those administrative functions without feeling crippled because you would prefer not to do them.
Give yourself permission to explore other pursuits that interest you creatively — on the side. Connect with family and friends, and carve out time to enjoy one another — even if it’s virtually these days. If you aren’t fully reliant on your job to fulfill you, you may be able to do it better.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been so busy lately that I have not been able to rest well. I feel like I have to take on every odd job that comes my way because I don’t know if I will have work tomorrow. That mentality made sense to me until I started to feel frazzled. How can I decide what to let go of, or should I just keep this up for now, given how precarious the job market is? I’m afraid I am going to burn out. — Burned Out

DEAR BURNED OUT: Step back and evaluate what you are doing, how much time and energy each project takes, and what income is attached to each project. Ask yourself what you can afford to let go of. Be honest with yourself. If you trust that the universe has enough abundance for you even when you don’t do every single thing that comes your way, you can grow to be more discriminating with your choices.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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