What Do You Do When A Job Is Harder Than You Thought?

Quit! (Just kidding.)

Photo: Stephen Melkisethian

If you’ve been face-first in a never-ending stream of middling to bad news like I have been since the inauguration, you might have seen a little thing fly by about how the President of the United States is slowly but surely realizing that the job he signed on to do is a lot harder than he thought.

Trump vexed by challenges, scale of government

The entire piece is a delightful yet terrifying account of the presidency so far: an child wearing his father’s suit, sitting in a big office and poking at a pile of manila folders, wondering where his juice box is and why no one has brought him a string cheese.

In interviews, nearly two dozen people who’ve spent time with Trump in the three weeks since his inauguration said that his mood has careened between surprise and anger as he’s faced the predictable realities of governing, from congressional delays over his cabinet nominations and legal fights holding up his aggressive initiatives to staff in-fighting and leaks.

There is so very much in here that to parse it out would do it a grave disservice, so just read it at your leisure. My sympathy reserves for the current administration are empty at this time and will remain so for the next four years, but the question I’d love to discuss is this: what do you do when a job is way, way harder than you thought?

This problem goes hand in hand with say, misunderstanding the job title.

A Job Title Question of the Day

You take a job that you think you understand, because it’s a job and you need it and whatever. Once you arrive at the job and start working at the job for some time, you realize, slowly but surely, that you are in over your head. Maybe you thought the job was one thing and realized that it was entirely something else. Maybe you lied on your resume or charmed your way through an interview and are slowly but surely drowning in your personal inadequacy, perceived or otherwise.

The trick here is that most jobs are harder than we think they’ll be on paper. Reading a list of job requirements sounds easy because you’re not actually doing the job yet. Sitting your butt in the chair, or standing at the desk, or putting on your gloves and doing..something — that’s much, much different.

So then, what do you do? How do you handle it? Do you ask for help? Do you quit? Do you leave your orientation papers in a pile on your desk and skip out at lunch? Do you stick it out? Do you thrive? Do you run?

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