Give Thanks for Your Crappy Job

November 25th, 2008

To help you celebrate Thanksgiving, here is a new and improved version of my post from last Turkey Day — a call to express thanks for the good things in your life, which is especially important in the midst of our current economic rough patch.

Forget about all of the pilgrim crap. The best way to think about Thanksgiving is as a time to express gratitude for all of the great things in your life — your friends, your family, your health, your access to massive quantities of poultry and pumpkin pie.

And don’t forget to say a little thanks to the universe or your deity of choice for your job if you’ve got one. You’re probably rolling your eyes right now if you’re stuck in a stressful or mind-numbing corporate job. Or if you’ve been recently downsized or restructured or otherwise unceremoniously shown the door by your corporate overlords.

But trust me, there are plenty of things to be grateful for if you really think about it:

Give Thanks for Your Paycheck — If you’re collecting regular paychecks or severance payments, you’re doing better than a lot of people. That’s not to say that you should settle for a job that’s only about the paycheck or avoid taking risks to find more fulfilling work. You can have both a paycheck and a meaningful career. And you will.

Give Thanks for All That You’ve Learned — Your experience in Corporate America has made you wiser. You have learned valuable business skills, developed a network of helpful contacts, and built a resume. You’ve also learned a lot about what you DON’T want to do for a living. All of these things will come in handy in your dream career — whether it’s starting your own business, becoming a third-grade teacher, or writing the Great American Novel. Yes, your bosses can always lay you off but they can never take away any of that hard-earned experience or your talents, skills, or wisdom.

Give Thanks for the Fire Under Your Ass — Sometimes, people need to be miserable in order to find the motivation to change. If you know anything about Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey or have seen a few Hollywood films, you know that the hero must go through crisis in order to achieve victory. A wise woman in one of my writing workshops put it this way — "a character doesn’t change unless you light a fire under his ass." What this means for you is that you will probably never take a leap until you feel flames on the seat of your pants. That fire could be the burning passion for your new career or it could be the slow, smoldering misery and/or frustration of a job that doesn’t inspire you. Whatever your inspiration, if you find yourself giving thanks for a brilliant new career by next Thanksgiving, you have that fire under your ass to thank.

Give Thanks for a Day Off — Most good corporate citizens in the U.S. get a paid day off for Thanksgiving. Many even get two (say thanks twice in this case). And if you’ve been laid off, look at it this way: You can do whatever you want for Thanksgiving and you don’t have to clear your plans with any boss this year. Take a break from the job search and do what so many terminated executives say they’re going to do — spend more time with your family. Or ditch your family if they’re a pain in the butt and spend time with people who are more supportive. Eat well and wear loose-fitting clothing.

And I want to thank you for reading this blog and sharing your thoughts and feedback. I am deeply grateful to everyone who has supported me over the last year as I published my first book and started a new and exciting chapter in my career. So many people shared their advice and expertise and helped me spread the word about Escape from Corporate America. A sincere thank you to each and every one of you…and you know who you are.

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Dana Leipold

Well, I am thankful for now, but I’m on my way out. Just found out yesterday that we’re all gonna get cut. Thanks for helping me see the “good” in all this right now. It’s tough.


That stinks. I don’t blame you for feeling less than positive right now. But I can’t tell you how many people that I have talked to who say they are ultimately grateful for being laid off because it pushed them to find a better path. I have been laid off and just about everybody I know has been laid off. So just remember that it’s no personal reflection on you and try not to let it get you down too much. And enjoy your turkey!



Dana – It is tough, but you can get through this! After losing my last full-time job what really helped me was to stay in contact with other people that I had enjoyed working with, that I had met in that job and past jobs. It wasn’t a natural for me, but it helped me to feel less panicky. I also made new supportive connections through women networking sites. I am very thankful for the support that I have gotten from old buddies in finding new jobs and providing inspiration to try new approaches to working other than full-time corporate.


Hi Pamela,

I don’t know if I’m crazy but got offered a permeanant position at a call centre here in the UK, thing is this job drives me nuts it’s like torture but i’m being paid for it.

Everyone thinks I’m crazy to be turning this job down especially in this economic climate that we are in. But my heart just says no

Any advice?

Pamela Skillings

Hi MD,
If you don’t have immediate financial concerns and can afford to say no to full-time torture, you probably owe it to yourself to walk away. Only you can weigh the pros and cons realistically, of course. Sometimes it’s necessary to take a less-than-ideal job temporarily for financial reasons (though less-than-ideal is very different from paid torture!). But it’s important to listen to your heart and your instincts. Good luck!

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