Today, a client expressed in the baldest terms what I have heard over the past two weeks from a number of people: “There is nothing positive going on.” What’s funny is that she HAS a job. Others are looking for one and think it will make them happy. She is evidence that this is not true. She’s not happy because it’s not the job she wants – even though she has not fully articulated what job she does want.

She was the most honest of everyone. Other folks are depressed and discouraged and feel like there’s nothing else they can try. My responses are couched in terms like “let’s try a different approach if what you’re doing now isn’t working.” For example, one woman was reluctant to send “yet another e-mail” following up on a job, so I suggested sending a handwritten note. To another, I suggested “if you’re getting nowhere submitting resumes, try identifying places you want to work and work on getting connected to and in front of someone in that company. That way, you’ll be top of mind when a job does come up.” Think differently so you have some hope. Be determined to have hope, and figure out a way to grasp it.

This client was different. She expressed a desire to make a radical change – to just abandon everything and take off somewhere. Some folks call that a geographical change, and the problem is that you take yourself wherever you go. The point is that things outside are never going to make you happy. Happiness is a choice.

Anyway, because she was so blunt, I decided to be equally blunt. Here’s what I wrote:

Perhaps you do need to make a radical change. Consider some of the possible radical changes you could make, and weigh the options. Just a reminder: radical change can involve actions, attitudes and situations. Everything is a choice and I’ve found that I feel less “at the mercy of” when I actively make a choice instead of feeling like I’m powerless and just have to submit.

I hear a lot of powerlessness in your venting, and I’m hopeful that by venting, you release some of that powerlessness and see that you are making choices. Yes, your choices are limited by circumstance. And yes, that sucks.

So what are you going to do about it? Choose how you want to feel. Choose how you want to talk about your life. Choose how you’re going to approach your circumstances. Choose the goal toward which you’re working. That means to articulate it – what ARE you working toward? Financial independence is not enough. What is your PURPOSE for being here on earth? And how are you fulfilling it?

My work is geared toward helping people articulate what kind of work they really want to do, work that fits them extremely well, work that fulfills them, work that draws out of them their absolute best. The process of articulating this is the process of making choices. I observe happiness emerging out of this process, for it’s a process of getting to know yourself very well and becoming your own friend – a friend who wants the very best for you.

I wonder if this makes sense to people. It may sound simplistic and “easy for YOU to say…” My experience is that if I even entertain the idea that I can choose how I respond to circumstances, I am on my way to feeling more powerful and better about myself and my life. If I even consider that how I respond to circumstances affects my mood and future attitude, then I am closer to wanting to DECIDE how I respond. When I respond with grumpiness, I stay grumpy – unless I’m just venting and am conscious that I am doing so in order to clear an emotional blockage. When I respond with acceptance and hope, then I feel hopeful and accepting.

I’ll be continuing to work with my client to help her get to that point. It takes what it takes, and she continues to show up, which is awesome.