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"I'm almost a year sober and feel stuck in my job. It was fine when I was actively using and drinking, but now I'm wanting to explore other options. I don't know where to start. Have you felt like this?"

-Stuck in a Job

Dear Stuck in a Job, 

First off, you are NOT alone in this feeling. At one point in my early recovery, I felt exactly like you do. I was working at a corporate job, and my day-to-day was as titillating as drying paint. Every morning I’d come to work, sit in my cubicle, eat a strawberry yogurt, and cry. Not in a dramatic way—more in a silently suffering, I’m bored out of my mind and I have eight hours to go sort of way. Even my crying from boredom was boring.

This was the problem: I had gone from numb oblivion to excruciating awareness of every. Single. Moment. My disease ravaged me, but it was also exciting. I had replaced that roller coaster with … nothing. A close friend in recovery pointed this out. “Do something that scares you!” she said. “Write down the top things a killer career would give you—things you don’t necessarily think you deserve or can get—and start there.” She called it a “life audit*.”

So I did it. One Sunday, instead of moping around dreading the upcoming work week, I met my undesirable feelings with action. This is a recovery trick I’ve learned: I often act my way to better feeling.

I grabbed a pack of Post-its and a Sharpie, and wrote one “impossible” dream on each square. I challenged myself to generate 100 ideas (it was really hard after the first twenty), things I never dared to say out loud. Some dreams were small (I don’t want to work in a room without windows), some were grandiose (I want to change the world for the better at scale), and some were ridiculous (I want to work from another planet).

From there, I was able to extract a few of my career must-haves: the ability to make a lasting social impact; financially support my family; work with a brilliant, compassionate team; and help others with my condition. I wanted to feel independent, creative, challenged, and a little scared. Using these insights as guideposts, I plotted my next move. I started a role as an intern at a design studio, and slowly worked my way to founding Workit Health. My role and career, almost two decades later, answer my must-have list down to the last detail.

Unstuck, if this sounds like a drag, I understand. Post-it parties are not for everyone! My advice is to interview people you admire *in recovery* about how they got to where they are today. If you don’t know people in recovery, throw a comment in our Workit Facebook forum; social media is a good place to get started. Ask all the “dumb” questions, maintain a beginner’s mind, and write your thoughts down. Stop focusing on the feelings and start leaning into action; it works if you work it, every time.

I hope this helps, Stuck in my Job. I believe in you!

Warm regards,

Robin McIntosh

Co-Founder and Chairperson of the Board

*Recently I caught this article outlining my friend’s life audit technique from long ago; it seems the world has caught up to our recovery ways! 

TLTR? My quick scan recovery tips:

  • Friends in recovery. Mine save my life daily.
  • Externalize the internal. Get those dreams OUT!
  • Act your way out of negative feelings.
  • It works if you work it.  🙂

Robin McIntosh is Workit Health’s Co-Founder and Chairperson. She is an experienced designer & entrepreneur. She has founded multiple companies, and has worked in health and consumer tech over the past ten years.

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