The Job You Have .vs. The Job You Want


Many of us who are out in the workforce today live in tension. We live in the tension of the job we have right now and the job we’re pining for in the future. We’re unsettled. In the deep, dark places of our hearts, we are discontent and we don’t know why.

But we can navigate this tension. The way through it is to know the truth about our job situation.

The truth is this — the job you have right now is teaching you something, and if you aren’t paying attention, you may not find the job you want. Let me tell you why.


If you’re discontent with your commute to the office, if you’re unsettled in the neutral gray wasteland that is your cubicle, it’s teaching you something. Jobs like this are what I call “get by” jobs. That is, a job you don’t like for a certain reason, but one that gives you a way to pay your bills.

You know, I think many of us want the lavish lifestyle of a high salary and our dream vocation, but we don’t want the struggle of a season in work that brings us money to eat and gives us hot water for our morning shower. To get to your dream job, you’ll need to become better at embracing the “get by” job.

We don’t wake up one day, decide we want to work our dream, and then go for it blindly. No, the reality is the work of your dreams takes planning, diligence, integrity, character, and I’d add in faith. These intangible characteristics are crafted and forged in the crucible of a “get by” job, a money-to-eat job. You will need these to get where you want to go, and I learned that in one of my “get by” jobs.


One of my hardest “get by” jobs was when I worked third shift scanning boxes for a popular shipping company (Hint: they were featured in the movie “Castaway” Tom Hanks). I vividly remember the late nights of sleeping from 7:00 to 10:00 PM, waking up, brewing coffee, and working through the wee hours of the morning in an open-air building that was basically an airplane hangar.

That season of my life paid my bills. It gave me insurance. I got to know what Carhartt overalls were. I donned earplugs more than I’d like to mention. Those ice cold months from December to February taught me what I didn’t want in an employer. My “get by” job showed me I needed to check my outlook and my attitude. My “get by” job forced me to see others who had been hit hard by life circumstances and had resigned themselves to being a zombie who scanned boxes and loaded airplanes in the snow and rain.

My “get by” job grew my character and my knowledge, but it was only a season of my life. It was not the final destination.


If you’re in a “get by” job right now, I want to leave you with hope. Your less-than-ideal job is forming your character and will help you land the job of your dreams. Remember, your “get by” job is only a season in your work life. Resist the voices around you who will encourage you to stay safe, to settle like they did.

There is more for you and your career journey — I believe that, and I hope you do, too. But don’t rush through your “get by” season. You need to learn those lessons to keep moving forward.

Stay the course. Work with integrity, and learn the lesson your “get by” job is teaching you.

*NOTE: This post was orignially shared on Medium

Want to learn more? Read about “get by” jobs in my blog post “The Two Job Types Everyone Has”