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Working In Recovery: How Can I Find Fulfillment In My Job?

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Returning to the workforce in early recovery is often challenging and sometimes can be downright miserable. Some of the circumstances you might face when you begin working in recovery are:

  • Starting over (often from the very beginning) after having worked your way up in a previous job
  • Beginning a job that you are actually overqualified for
  • Receiving pay that may be much lower than what you’ve been accustomed to
  • Being the “new person on the job” where you do not yet have friends
  • Being the “employee” instead of the “employer” (in some cases)
  • Having job tasks that are repetitive and offer few, (if any), challenges
  • Working under a supervisor/boss that is a jerk
  • Having to work “beginners hours” (the shift nobody wants)
  • Having a job that goes against your personality (i.e. ~ A “people person” doing work that doesn’t involve people)
  • Working in an environment where there is considerable drug/alcohol use (or it begins right after work)

The inevitable result is often feelings of restlessness, irritability, discontentedness, bitterness, jealousy, fear, anger, pride, confusion, isolation, loneliness and sometimes even feelings of hopelessness. The first thing that has to be done is actually no different than in any other area of our recovery…it begins with Step One: Admitting we are powerless and our lives have become unmanageable. What exactly do I mean by that? When we come into treatment, (starting the journey of recovery), it begins with this first admission of powerlessness. Why is that? Well, in order to move towards a new place successfully, we must first be able to identify where we’ve come from, how we got there and why our way didn’t continue to work.

Example: Bob (having a 25 year history with the company), was the senior manager of a large department. In his final year of employment, Bob’s addiction caused him to fail to meet his responsibilities and display poor work performance over an extended period of time, ultimately resulting in his termination and replacement by a less senior employee, (who had actually been a subordinate of his previously). After successfully completing treatment, Bob was faced with “starting over” with a new company in an entry level job. Bob had resentment towards his old job & the person who replaced him – someone he trained and felt he had been wronged by when they stepped into his position. Bob did not want to have to start over, but had nowhere to go back to – he was filled with negative emotions and in need of a way out of them. His options were to either drink or take a new path.

Here is how Bob, (or any one of us, for that matter), can not only overcome this “seemingly hopeless state” of employment frustration, but can go on to find joy and fulfillment in his job. There are 2 areas of action to take. The FIRST area of action is in the application of the STEPS.

Step 1: Bob has to look at the fact that he is unemployed, (whether he likes it or not/ whether it is “fair” or not) and look at what lead him to become unemployed (what his role was) in order to learn from that and not repeat this in future jobs.

Step 2: Bob will have to look at whether he suspects that his employment situation (although perhaps to big for him to deal with), is not too big for God to deal with.

Step 3: Bob will have to decide if he is going to approach his new job under his own strength and direction or seek “God’s strength & direction”.

Steps 4-10: Bob will, (under the direction of someone else & with the ability given by God), do these action steps, addressing his past job, employer and co-workers to come to terms with his previous termination and better ensure it is not repeated.

Steps 11 & 12: Bob will be able to seek “God’s will & purpose” for his days at work, thereby finding that each day holds unforeseen opportunities to learn, grow and develop, finding joy along the way.

The SECOND area of action is in our “ATTITUDE”. Have you ever noticed that when you are getting the symptoms of a cold, your attitude can actually affect how you feel? For example: You begin saying how badly you feel – thinking and talking more and more about the cold symptoms you are experiencing and THEN have someone say, “Hey – are you sick? You look sick!” Didn’t you find yourself feeling WORSE? (vs) You don’t feed into the symptoms, (perhaps not denying them, as much as just not acknowledging & feeding into them), get some Zinc or Vitamin C and then carry on. Didn’t you find that, (although not feeling great) it wasn’t as bad as it could be? Our attitude is influential and the reason for that is because our attitude is the result of the direction we place our thinking in; the MIND is very powerful! This also applies to our jobs and how we feel about the significant amount of hours we spend there. We have two ways to approach our attitudes regarding our jobs (even when we may not particularly like them) and they are:

  • NEGATIVE: To think about how much we don’t like it; That we don’t want to be there; That we deserve better; That we don’t like a supervisor or boss; That we are miserable; That it’s never going to get better; That it’s not fair; etc…


  • POSITIVE: To think about opportunities God WILL present at our job; That we are going to be the best at what we do; To be thankful that we have a job; To realize that things WILL get better; That we can learn from these experiences; etc…

Working in Recovery

See the thing is that “no job is perfect”; there are always hurdles to be faced and challenges to overcome, regardless of whether you own a company, are a supervisor or are a new employee. Jobs are merely an extension of the rest of our lives. No matter where we are: at home, in traffic, shopping, at work, at the mall, etc… we are faced DAILY with the choice between living in negative emotions, (which, when fed will produce a harvest of poisonous fruit) OR utilizing the principles of recovery & the gift of a “good attitude” which takes what may be a hard situation and turns it into an opportunity for growth, fulfillment and joy!

© 2013 Rebecca B.

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