It’s hell to live with someone who can’t stand his job. Seriously. It’s hard to watch anyone you care about spiral down into the depths of despair and apathy. To make matters worse there really isn’t much you can do about it. People have to make their own choices.

You’d think that situation would be uncommon in this red-hot job market where almost anyone can get a job doing almost anything. But then, you’d be wrong. I see that sort of thing a lot. Do I see it as often as in a soft job market? I don’t know; I’m not really keeping track. Anecdotally it seems about the same.

So what gives?

The problem is this. It’s hard to find a career that suits you – meaning you love the work and are good at it, so the place where you work loves you back. It’s probably just as hard to find a person that you love who also loves you back. And we all know how hard that can be. At least I assume we all do. I know I do.

Don’t even get me started on all the situational factors that also come into play. There are personal factors like personalities, politics, geography and schedules. There are internal factors. External factors. Lots and lots of factors. And things change over time. They can change a lot. One day all is well, the next day it’s all gone to hell.

If you read that last paragraph and weren’t sure if I was talking about a job or a relationship, that sort of proves my point. It could have been true of either one.  

You know that fairy tale about the princess who had to kiss all those frogs to find her prince? Same thing.

In his now famous 2005 Stanford commencement speech, Steve Jobs equated careers and relationships. He said they are both matters of the heart. That it’s just as important to find the right work as it is to find the right lover. That you should have faith that it will all work out for you someday and not settle.  

Pretty sharp guy, that Steve Jobs.  

You know that fairy tale about the princess who had to kiss all those frogs to find her prince who I guess had been turned into a frog by some evil witch or something? Same thing. I don’t know what’s worse, dating, searching for the right job or kissing frogs all day long. I’ve never actually kissed a frog but I imagine it isn’t very pleasant.

Come to think of it, age-old wisdom – even fairy tales, I guess – can be pretty insightful if you can figure out which situations to apply them to. Those who can make that determination have an edge on everyone else. The same goes for using analogies and metaphors to simplify a complex problem. Jobs was pretty good at that sort of thing.

Not to get off track, but there is a message I’d like to get across here. The most important things in life never come easy, but it’s always worth extraordinary effort to obtain them. Also it’s surprising what you can achieve once you set your mind to it, and just as important to never lose faith that someday you’ll find what you’re looking for.  

Image credit Helen Haden / Flickr