The difference between a job you COULD do vs a job you WANT to do

What's the difference between a job you COULD do and a job you WANT to do?

Think of a job you’ve come across that you knew you *could* do but didn't really want. Notice how your body feels.

When I think of the jobs I could easily do in corporate, my whole mid-section tenses up. Given the number of years I chased the jobs I could do but didn't really want, you'd think I'd at least have rock-solid abs to show for it.

(Pro tip: DO NOT search for "rock solid abs" .gifs at work)

But I digress...

A job you COULD do is usually the most logical step based on your experience and work history. It's usually work you could do with your eyes closed. It’s usually some variation of work you know you don’t. want. to. do.

Yet most people approach their careers this way, making incremental changes, hoping that a slightly different version of the same thing will make the difference. And it doesn’t. And they’re still miserable. Because they don’t actually WANT to be doing that work no matter how it's packaged.

Because there's an assumption that career change--or really anything worth having at work or life--has to be hard.

People assume what they WANT is just not possible. Or it will take so much time and be so painfully hard, it won’t be worth it.

This is just not true.

I'll tell you what's hard.

On the surface, the jobs you COULD do may seem like the easy option. But then you find yourself sitting on the couch procrastinating and beating yourself up for not taking action. That’s hard.

Knowing you don't have to prep for the interview because you know you can ace it might seem easy. But sitting in that interview, knowing they’re going to make an offer, and hoping they don’t—that’s hard.

Let’s not confuse the ease of getting into the job with the ease of being happy once you’re in it.

When you pick the easy options—the jobs you COULD do—you’re going against what you actually want for your career and life.

I call it “grinding” energy because you’re technically moving forward, but it's so dang hard when you're settling instead of doing the work you’re truly meant to do. It’s that factual “this makes logical sense” energy tamping down your “but this doesn’t feel good at all” instincts.



It’s hard to apply to job after job, not knowing if you’ll hear back. It’s hard going through the inane bureaucracy of the interview process, only to be told they’re going with an internal candidate. It’s hard to get out of bed every morning for a job that you COULD do but don’t want to.

What if you accept the idea that going after the career you WANT could be a lot easier than you think? That it's about being strategic and persistent and engaged, not grinding it out?

It’s easy when jobs come to you. It’s easy when you get to walk away from networking conversations truly excited to connect again. It’s easy getting out of bed to go to a job that gives you the running room, direction, and sense of purpose you truly want.

Last week two clients told me they’re in talks about potential opportunities tailor-made for them. They have the opportunity to shape the roles and the flexibility to set their schedules, location, and travel. They get to set the tone and the direction.

It doesn't get any easier!

But in order to get to this EASE, they had to pass up more straightforward "I could do that," opportunities that didn’t light them up.

They had to get clear on what they really wanted, then not abandon it when the first almost-there-but-not-quite-right opportunity came along.

They didn't work harder. They eased up. Opportunities came to them.

So, I have two questions for you:

  1. What's the career you really WANT to do?

  2. What stories are you telling yourself about how hard it will be or how much work it will take to get what you want?

Comment below and share what came up for you.

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Author Bio: 

Before becoming a coach, Caroline worked in management consulting and financial services. She's made it her mission to help people grow, contribute, and get wherever they want to go.

Caroline wants women to recognize how much power they truly have to define their careers. The life and career you want really is possible once you have the roadmap. Take the first step by downloading her free guide: 4 steps to take back your life and design a career with purpose.

She’s also a tennis fanatic, aspiring Minimalist, FIRE (Financial Independence and Retire Early) enthusiast, and Aloha Spirit seeker 🤙. She loves to share stories from her unconventional life and career focused on freedom, creativity, fun, health, family, and community. If she can do it, you can, too.