How to Beat the Work Life Blues

Working in a job you hate kills your spirit and drains your energy. But you’ll never escape the hell you’re in by bitching and moaning about it.

What we focus on, expands. What we give our attention to; we get more of. What we look at, whether it is pleasing or upsetting, becomes our focus point of expansion. When considering a career transition, everything we resist persists – because we are giving it our attention. It doesn’t matter if your boss is stealing all your good ideas; by complaining about it, you are keeping yourself locked in the same prison.

Worry, complaint, blame and doubt are powerful forces of resistance that tend to keep us stuck within the very situations we wish to be free of. Yet there is always a way out and it comes from having the courage to see and make a better choice.

Here’s a powerful method I’ve adapted for my career coaching, from Eckhart Tolle’s excellent book, The Power of Now.

In all challenging situations, you only have the following four choices, the first of which is counterproductive.

1). You can resist, complain or deny, and remain stuck within the situation.

Resistance is any from of complaint, argument, blame, negativity, impatience, anger or irritation. Well how about it? Have you been resisting your crappy job? Stop it! Instead choose one of the choices below or you’ll never get out. We really can’t beat the work life blues, with force but we can transition to fulfillment by making better choices.

2). You can remove yourself from the situation.

You know in your heart that walking away is an option.

3). You can work with others to change it.

If (and I know this is a big “if”) you have co-workers and management who will work with you to make the changes, you can make a lousy job less so.

4). You can accept it.

Acceptance is not giving up and it is not agreement. It is simply your active choice that, for now, you just won’t fight it. For now, you’re not going to let them get to you. For now, you’ll cheerfully acknowledge that this is the best you can do, given all of the circumstances. Then you are free to put your energy on the kind of work that you really want.

That’s it. There are no other choices! Often when coaching a client who is in the middle of stressful circumstances, they fight choosing options 2, 3, or 4. That means, by default, they have chosen to remain in a prison of their own making. When we choose not to accept, change or remove ourselves from a situation, we are stuck solidly within resistance.

Opportunity comes directly from clarity of decision and action. By deciding which of the three positive choices you are making, you increase the likelihood of greater opportunity – because you have lessened resistance.

Then you can apply a relief formula that always works:

Gratitude + Less Resistance = Increased Opportunity

Gratitude, recognizing and appreciating one’s blessings, gives you greater strength. If you are working in an unfulfilling job, there must be something good about it. Focus on that – and do not resist! Then your energy will remain strong and you will have put yourself in the best position to make your move to more fulfilling work.

Remember, whatever we focus on, we get more of. What we resist, persists.

In all things, you have a choice as to how you’ll respond. You can resist by hoping that another person or condition will change, or you can choose to work the formula on your own behalf.

How have you resisted your work?

Does it make sense for you to change your focus and make another choice today?


  1. Hello Tom, I like the fact that you are incorporating basic principles of life and for the Self into the work arena. Applying what Eckhart Tolle has taught into career coaching is so brilliant! Most of us do not realize how important it is to align ourselves, even at work or in the business that we are in. I sure hope that more of us can see the value in what you are providing.

    All the best,

    Evelyn Lims last blog post..Mind Travel To Ancient Egypt

  2. Man. This post is so dead on for my life right now.

    It looks like #2 and #4 are my best bets….4 more so than 2 for practicality’s sake.

    The craziest thing about this is that I knew all this already. Not to take away from your kick butt observations, Tom, but seriously. I KNOW THIS. Being grateful and resisting less will get me where I want to go so much faster than bitching and despairing.

    If I know this is the answer, then WHY am I not doing it??

    That’s the most twisted thing about it. I know it’s the answer and it just takes some practice to do it but for some reason it feels so hard.

    Or maybe I am subconsciously sabotaging by not doing what I know I need to do because on some level I fear the changes that will surely occur even though I tell myself that’s what I want so badly?


    Insightful post as always Tom–you’ve really got me inside my head now! 😉

  3. PS–I love Tolle too 🙂

  4. Hi Tom, this applies just as much to those of us trying to build our own businesses and sometimes fighting themselves … so now i’m off for a walk to look at the beautiful sky and let it go, I know tomorrow will be better and so I don’t need to fight! Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Great post. You are right about the choices we have and not making a choice is actually choosing to resist and be stuck. I chose to walk away. Now, I am in a better place and am enjoying what I am doing. The money will come as I build the business but my love and passion for my work is very high. I wouldn’t go back to the other job for all the dollars in the bail out!

  6. I like your adaptation. Usually people think they don’t have choices or have only dis-empowering ones. This shows choices to move forward are always present.

    Avani-Mehtas last blog post..How To Pick Your First Anger Management Area – Anger Management Series Part IV

  7. Christine – you raise an excellent question. Why don’t you use the processes that you know will work for you? Why don’t we all? I don’t have the answer but I do have another question that will get you there. Here it is. “What would a person who did not use a process they know to be effective have to believe in order not to use it?” Let us know what comes up for you.

    Evelyn – thanks so much I can only hope. I always apply the best I see into my coaching. In fact that’s the whole point of being a student to use what you learn. You know this and you’re quite the exceptional student yourself.

    Gemma – cool how was that walk? Yes fighting oneself is always a losing battle. I’m please you’ve called a truce!

    Laurie – your determination and spirit is inspiring. I love number 2. You can even remove yourself form the presence of relatives. It works great. 🙂

    Avani – yes all of us have ever-present choices, well put. Ans if we always have them then it makes sense to choose one that we feel good about.

  8. We all have the power to choose. To choose what our response will be to any given situation. Sometimes the “easiest” solution can really not be the best solution. Why do we still choose it? Because it’s easy? Because we don’t want to change? Because we are unsure of all the unknowns ahead? For me, it can be a combination of these that makes me resist change. And, like Christine, I know this stuff….But sometimes it really just needs to be reinforced. Thanks for bringing this back to the forefront for me Tom. This is a time when I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head – and continuing to live with options 1 and 4. I needed to hear this. I needed the reinforcement that I can choose.

    Lances last blog post..Spread Your Wings and Fly

  9. Tom,
    You are speaking to the converted here. NOW is the only “time” we have. I often ask myself,when worried about my business or anything else for that matter, “Rght Now, Are you okay?”
    “Is anything wrong with this moment?” “Are you safe, healthy, protected, cared for in this now?”
    Tom, the answer is always yes.
    But when I resist my work, by allowing myself to procrastinate projects :-), I feel stress in my mind, trouble in my body, and emotionall distress.
    I find the greatest resistence when I am thinking about what is going to happen, or how I am going to feel. Future tense thinking. You offered up a great post here. Thank you.

    Harmonys last blog post..The Power Broker Bust (pt 2 of 4)

  10. Tom–you asked:

    “What would a person who did not use a process they know to be effective have to believe in order not to use it?”

    What immediately comes up when I ask myself this question:

    I’d have to believe it may work for others but that there is something about me that would keep it from working for me. That somehow I’m less __________ (fill in the blank) than others who it works for. That even if I gave it my best shot and really worked on it it would fail and then I’d be even WORSE OFF because, hey, that just proves what I thought about myself.

    That’s what comes to mind first.

  11. @Harmony- “Is anything wrong with this moment?” “Are you safe, healthy, protected, cared for in this now?”

    Great reminder, thanks for this! :O)

  12. Harmony – thanks for this insightful comment. Procrastination is such a complex and intriguing concept. There are a lot of dark mysteries within it and you’re right. It can all be taken care of by being fully present.

    You raise and interesting question about speaking to the converted. I imagine I share this with many bloggers. How to reach those who need this info for the first time? I can only hope that all those silent readers are absorbing and growing.

    Lance – yep, that easy way out often turns out not to be so easy.
    Why do we do it? It all comes back to an awareness that is less than full. Sometimes we get mentally lazy for many reasons. Have fun relasing your use of number 1 and choose 4 to really soar!

  13. “When we choose not to accept, change or remove ourselves from a situation, we are stuck solidly within resistance.” Right on! Great site…thanks for sharing!

  14. Christine – thanks for sharing what came up for you. You are courageous to do so and it’s a good sign that you’re ready to release these erroneous limiting beliefs about yourself. There are many effective ways to let go of limiting beliefs and I’m asking you to use one of the most effective. Google UTube for EFT and self esteem. Follow along and tap those beliefs away. Come back and tell us how it works for you.

    Mark – welcome, please come again and tell us how things are going for you.

  15. Hi Tom – I usually go for 2. But if that’s not always possible straight away, I’ll accept the situation until it is.

    I’ve been reading a lot about these Eckart Tolle books. But some reviews say both books are similar. Have you read both? Which one is best?

  16. #4 is huge for the many people who find themselves for many reasons in a job that drains them. The resistance only serves to drain them further and until they can walk away they will continue to resist unless they step back and accept. I railed against a position I had for about a year. It hurt me emotionally an spiritually. People who loved me said that the job was killing my spirit. It wasn’t the job that was killing me, it was my interpretation of the job, my resistance to it and my unwillingness to accept it. For many reasons it was the right place and position for me to be in at the time and once I accepted it and stopped fighting I found my mind and heart open to new possibilities. Within months of making that decision I had been promoted to a position that fit much better with my heart and my mind and I was once again happy.

    I’m so glad to see that you are applying these principals to work situations. Too often people think that to be enlightened you have to be outside of the corporate world. As if you can’t be enlightened wherever you are!

    Melissas last blog post..Do You Have Life Purpose Anxiety?

  17. Cath – most everyone chooses two initially because we like to think we are in control and can change things. It’s interesting because many people who think they are choosing #2 change, actually are choosing resistance because they are fighting the change. it doesn’t sound like theat’s the case with you since you go to accptance if change doesn’t work.

    As for the Tolle books I haven’t read far enough into the second one, The New Earth, yet to tell you if there is a definitive favorite. I do think you could start with either because he does cover a lot of the same ground in the second book that he did in the first. I’m over-simplifying but his entire brilliant and profound works are to get us to realize that the present is our only point of power. But he does it in so many different ways and approaches that we indeed are resisting less while reading him.

  18. It’s so true that what we resist persists. The Sedona Method teaches that whenever we struggle with what is we are struggling against the entire universe. I imagine myself holding on to one end of the rope and pulling and having the rest of the universe holding on to the other end of the rope and pulling in the opposite direction. What chances do I have of “winning” that way? Instead you have to find a way of doing what wrestlers do: use the strength and weight of the other person (or situation) to your advantage. I think this is where creativity comes in, which is an area I’m really focusing on right now.

    Marelisas last blog post..27 Simple Ways to Simplify Your Life

  19. Hi Tom – it’s so true that we can turn things around by changing our attitude to what is going on. Even if we need to leave a job, believing there can be something better waiting for us can take quite a bit of faith!

    Robins last blog post..Ice And Global Warming

  20. @Robin – I believe you’re right – in some cases leaving a disliked job takes the proverbial mustard seed of faith plus some ruddy good financial preparations. Perhaps one implies the other 😉

    There is a lot of value in Tom’s #3 and #4 approaches – worth experimenting with while employment options are presenting themselves (however slowly).

    Mark McClures last blog post..The Best Business Book I Have Ever Read

  21. Melissa – welcome. The fact that you took a different outlook on the exact same job moving from resistance to acceptance is wonderful.
    It proves that we can have impact also simply by changing how we feel about a situation – the situation indeed changes for us.

    Marelisa – that’s quite the heavy image. I love your metaphor. Using opposing weight as a grappler would to leverage an advantageous position is a beautiful illustration, thank you, excellent!

    Robin – it takes faith but really what other effective choice is there?
    Fighting what is certainly is a losing battle.

    Mark – Good to hear from you again.. You are right on. Why not experiment if you feel as though you can’t make your move right now? The times they are a changin but that means that opportunity exists somewhere.

  22. Hi Tom – this is another great post.

    A master EFT practitioner named Brad Yates (mentioned previously in this blog) suggests that one way to ease the resistance to actually using tools or techniques that we know will help us, is to set up and keep a daily practice.

    It doesn’t have to be long or difficult, I like to use Brad’s “Tap O’ The Morning” EFT video on YouTube. It takes just a few minutes and is very helpful.

    It’s kind of like the “wax on, wax off” thing in Karate Kid. When the need arises to use the movements, they are nearly automatic. It’s much easier to talk yourself out of doing something that’s less familiar.

    LOVE this blog! – What amazing people comment here – lots of wisdom.

  23. Thanks for this! I found myself resisting a return to work after being on sick leave for 2 years. My flawed logic was this: “I don’t want to go back to that job. Every cell in my body is resisting going back. This must surely be a sign that I should not go back.” Only after reading this did I realize that it was not the job but the resistance that was causing me anguish and unhappiness.

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