Heard The One About The Guy Who Said, “I Want To Work But…”

When you hear someone say, “Heard the one about the guy who said…”, it’s usually the start of a joke. When the next 5 words are, “I want to work but…”, then it sounds like the idea of making a joke about someone looking for work is in bad taste.

It is true however – and most unfortunately so, that there are a great number of people who claim to want to work but who follow-up that statement with single or multiple barriers. The nature of those barriers are either self-imposed barriers or barriers beyond their control. Of the two, self-imposed barriers are far more common. So if then these barriers are so often self-imposed, why is it some people still make claims of wanting to work, but don’t take the steps to remove the barriers they’ve set upon themselves?

The answer is actually very simple; while they profess to wanting employment, they don’t want the employment more than they are content to live within the barriers they have constructed. So the person who wants to work but needs their high school diploma would much rather live without going back to get it, hence jeopardizing their own ability to get the work that requires the diploma. Similarly, the person who says they want to work and gets offered a job interview, declines it because it would mean having to work 15 kilometres away and in their mind that’s too far to be expected to travel every day.

In both cases above, the person states a desire to work, knows what has to be done to obtain employment, but doesn’t want the end goal of a job bad enough to in the one case, get their high school diploma and in the other travel outside some predetermined and largely arbitrary geographical boundary. How bad do they really want to work? Not bad enough.

These kind of examples work really well in the sense that most of us can see how the person is self-sabotaging themselves. We might go so far as to say, “15 kilometres? Really? Come on, that’s like a short bus ride. You’re not serious right?” Oh but they are. And it’s easy to look at someone else’s situation and gape, laugh, question, or puzzle over. But what of our situation; more directly YOUR situation? Are you equally putting up your own barriers to employment?

Suddenly the thought that someone might look your way and suggest that you are your own worst barrier to employment might not seem so funny. How dare they! How dare I. But I stand by this assertion; in many cases, the single biggest barrier to someone gaining meaningful employment is themselves.

I’ve heard some single parents say, “I want to work but I have no childcare.” Others say, “I want to work but everything is on computers these days”. There’s the classic, “I want to work but I’ve got this 15-year-old criminal record.” That one is only topped by the ever popular, “I want to work but nobody is hiring in this town.” If this was a music album, it’d be a cheesy collection of country-wailing fiddles and bluesy saxophones.

At what point does a person say to themselves, “Okay, I’ve got a situation of my own making, I’m taking responsibility for it, and the solution is also mine to own.” It’s far too easy and much more comfortable to continue on blaming others for our circumstances. In some cases, it’s even necessary quite frankly. Some current situations exist because of past situations in which we found ourselves – shady employers who duped us, maybe families who put us down and suppressed us.

At some point however, for each and every person who pulled themselves out of that “woe is me” life, a decision was made by the person themselves that enough was enough, life was passing them by, they were going to succeed where they had only ever failed, and that change – REAL CHANGE – was needed. The second thing beyond that initial decision was an equally important next step and that was to act.

If you are truly happy with your present life there is no real desire to embrace change because there is no motivation to experience things differently. If you are not happy with life as it is, you DO have the power to change how you experience it. In fact, you are the only person on the planet who can really drive that change if it’s change that’s to last.

If you are unemployed and don’t want to work, stop telling people you do. You are only going to waste both your time and theirs. Is that your goal? I would hope not. If you are sincere about wanting to make a change and gain employment, the real work is about to begin. Getting work IS work. You’ll need to update your skills, education, your appearance, self-confidence, decision-making ability, change your daily routines. It will involve struggles, setbacks but also gains, achievements and successes.

Eliminate the word, “but” from your vocabulary for starters. If you want to succeed and work, get going. “But I don’t have my grade 12!” becomes, “I’m enrolling in school”.  “But I don’t have childcare becomes, “I’m getting a sitter.” But I’ve got a criminal record!” becomes, “I’m getting a pardon”. etc.

Who said getting a job would be easy? So you have problems to overcome? It all starts with YOU.




One thought on “Heard The One About The Guy Who Said, “I Want To Work But…”

  1. This is SO prevalent Kelly – and not only with work.

    You ask “At what point does a person say to themselves, “Okay, I’ve got a situation of my own making, I’m taking responsibility for it, and the solution is also mine to own.” In my experience, only when the pain of staying in the current situation is greater than the fear of taking ownership and changing it!

    Liked by 1 person

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