How to Get Trapped Doing Work You Hate

The “if they pay me enough I can put up with anything” attitude is seductive. Even the wisest people have taken the first job offered them.

Written by Kevin S. Bemel

Wednesday, 22 November 2017 12:30

Do You Think You Deserve a Great Job?

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayeitzei – Genesis 28:10-32:3

You never have to negotiate your military salary. For that matter, all the terms of employment are set. In the private sector, almost everything is open for discussion. Many veterans get fooled into thinking if they get a great compensation package, civilian life will be outstanding. Others take the first job offered them out of desperation. Then reality hits…

How to Get Trapped by Work You Hate

Employers Will Entice You

The “if they pay me enough I can put up with anything” attitude is seductive. Even the wisest people have taken the first job offered them. In Parshas Vayeitzei, Jacob falls into this trap:

“And he [Laban] said, specify your wage to me and I will give it.” (Beresheis/Genesis 30:28)

After working seven years so he could marry Rachel, Jacob found Laban had tricked him. The morning after his wedding he woke up with Leah. Still hopelessly in love with Rachel, he agreed to work another seven years to earn her. You would think that would have been all the proof he needed to leave his father-in-law’s employ.

But when Laban told Jacob to name his price, he took the bait. The next six years required constant vigilance so he didn't get cheated. Finally, he couldn’t take any more. He gathered up his wives and children and fled.

Continuing to work for Laban may have seemed like the smart or easy play. Why take the risk of having to find another employer or going out on his own? Maybe his wives pressured him. After all, what could be more secure than having their husband work for daddy?

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But after 20 years, Jacob had had it. And when Laban confronted him, he exploded with indignation.

Rationalizing Taking a Crummy Job

Let’s be honest, money can buy happiness. Or at least you can get enough stuff so you overlook being miserable. But money can't buy a sense of purpose, mission, or fulfillment. If your job pays well but offers nothing else, you’re in a test of wills with your employer. How much will you put up with before you can’t stand another minute and quit?

Taking the first post-military job offered may seem like the right move. But half of veterans quit their job during the first year. They feel no sense of mission, especially compared to the military. Is it any wonder they hate what they’re doing?

Do you still have lots of time before you leave active duty? Are you struggling after leaving your first civilian job? Or are you somewhere between? The stage of your transition doesn't matter.


  1. How important is finding meaningful employment?
  2. What kind of work fits with your revised purpose and mission as you enter the private sector?
  3. How do your answers to the first two questions impact your thinking about compensation?

If decide to maximize your income at the expense of meaning:

  1. How much will you need to earn to put up with the drudgery and maltreatment?

Jacob thought he had good reasons for working for Laban. It’s true he got to marry the woman he adored. But he never had a good relationship with Leah. Numerous stories attest to the contentiousness of his later life. Jacob had to learn how to outwit Laban instead of engaging in more satisfying pursuits.

You don't need to work for an unscrupulous employer doing mind-numbing work. Take the time to think through your responses to these four questions. Have the patience to figure out your Unique Value Proposition that will lead you to a job you love.

Are you doing work you hate for a supervisor who’s a jerk?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below ↓

Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

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