The importance of get-well jobs is not only for your own confidence, but also for the confidence of those giving you work opportunities.
I have a friend who was a very successful lawyer. He had a drinking problem—a serious one. He got sober, and he is still sober today. He didn’t lose his job as a result of his addiction, wasn’t disciplined or anything like that—he simply, as he puts it, became a “happier lawyer” in sobriety.
How nice for him. His story is not the common one in recovery.
Many of us come into recovery having lost good jobs we loved. Others come having never been able to hold a good job, or having fallen off the educational path that we hoped would lead to our dream career. In the early days of sobriety, unless we’re very fortunate like my friend the lawyer, the prospect of getting back on track and keeping up can seem daunting.
With a lot of bridges burned, the fear can be overwhelming. What if no one hires me? What if I never get back to what I had, or back on track toward my dream?
When I was in rehab, my sponsor told me that the first thing I needed to do when I got out was get a “get-well job.” I should approach a job like I did my program: as something I would do one day at a time. No need to worry that this would be something I would do forever. I just needed something to get my confidence back.
A get-well job isn’t about your own confidence. It’s about demonstrating to other people that you are worthy of trust. When people see that you’re committed and dependable, they’ll be eager to offer you more. This is especially true in 12-step programs. Though the program is NOT a job placement agency, the reality is that many people do make professional connections and go from “get-well job” to something much more lasting through the people they meet in the rooms.
I lost a prestigious, high-paying job thanks to my disease. When I got out of rehab, I was broke and desperate. I followed my sponsor’s advice and took a part-time job as a file clerk and a mailroom boy. I was 47 years old; the next youngest person in my department was barely half my age. I won’t lie, it was often humiliating. But I kept at it, and the promotions came steadily and in surprising, often unexpected, ways.
Give yourself permission to have a simple “get-well job,” and if you show up steadily, one day at a time, you’ll be amazed at how far you go.