The Four Desires: The Pursuit of Happiness in the Workplace

By Jay Block

When working with clients on a job search or career transition, an important question to ask is: Do they have a burning desire to make a change or is it merely a wish in the wind? A client might say: “I want a better job.” “I want a raise.” “I want a promotion.” “I want to make lots of money.” “I want my family to live a great life.” But how deep is that desire? In a competitive job market, clients need to be highly motivated and determined to do the work necessary to reach their goals.

What most clients want (desire) more than anything else is to be happy. There is no more basic or universal drive in life than the desire to be happy. This article will address the correlation between having a desire and attaining the desire to find happiness in the workplace.

Not All Desires are Created Equal
Michael has a desire to land a new job after being downsized from the company he had been with for ten years. Yet, his efforts to become re-employed are underwhelming. He’s been jobless for nine months and spends less than ten hours a week in employment activities. Michael has the desire to secure a new job that will enhance the quality of his life; that will reestablish his self-respect. So why such little effort?

Elizabeth has the desire to become the assistant manager of a jewelry boutique where she currently works. The position will become available in two months when the current assistant manager retires. Knowing she must improve her accounting skills to be considered for this promotion, Elizabeth takes a comprehensive accounting class on weekends (at her expense), to ensure she has a great shot at landing this job. As opposed to Michael who devotes the least amount of effort possible to land a new job, why is Elizabeth so proactive to win this promotion? The answer is, not all desires are created equal.

Resistance Tests the Will
Resistance can be that voice in your head that focuses primarily on negativity, disorder, and pessimism. Resistance can appear as adversity, frustration, and failure. Resistance can be a bad habit, the lack of discipline, the absence of constructive thoughts, or the unwillingness to take essential action necessary to attain a desire. In the pursuit of anything worthwhile, resistance will unescapably be met. And it exists for one reason only… to test the will. In other words, resistance is any obstacle or obstacles that impede constructive thought and action to achieve a desire.

Intensity of Desire Determines Success
The cliché goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” But this is not always true. Clients might say they really want that job or promotion, but are they willing to do what it takes to get it? The ever-present dynamism of resistance begs the question: How badly do your clients want to achieve their desires? The level of intensity, passion, and urgency of their desire will determine if they will muster the courage, perseverance, and resolve to attain their goals. Said differently, whether they want a new job, a great promotion, better health, improved relationships, or greater wealth, the single most important factor that will determine their success (or lack of success) will be the intensity of their desires.

Why? Because dreams come true and life-changing transformation is accomplished only when the desire is so strong, that no resistance in the world will deny their attempt to succeed. When your client’s desire is in “unstoppable mode,” retreat is not an option; quitting is not a possibility; and success is inevitable!

Resistance Versus Desires - a Universal and Epic Battle
When clients say they want a new job, resistance may appear when they are not comfortable networking aggressively, when coming in second in a job interview, or when employers are not responding when they promised they would. Resistance may appear when being overlooked for a promotion or with self-talk (or thoughts) about how long, painful, and hopeless the job search process will be. If a job seeker believes he’s too old to land a new job – resistance. If she believes she’s too young and inexperienced to land a new job – resistance.

Michael was a shoe-in for the job as store manager. All he had to do was nail his final interview with the HR director. Due to heavier-than-usual traffic and leaving his home later than he intended, Michael was 25 minutes late to his interview. The job offer was withdrawn. Resistance.

The Four Desires
The best way to ensure the odds are in the favor of your clients’ attaining their goals is to ensure that the intensity of their desires are strong enough to defeat all the resistance factors they will undoubtedly face. You can listen and observe to try and assess their level of desire, but it is the clients themselves who are the ones who can best determine their level of desire based on their own honest observation. The four desires are:

  1. I MIGHT want to achieve my desire: Might as well forget it. (5% chance of achieving the desire).
  2. I SHOULD achieve my desire: You are “shoulding” yourself. (20% chance of achieving the desire).
  3. I MUST achieve my desire: Yes! The odds are now in your favor. (50% of achieving the desire).
  4. I WILL achieve my desire: The odds are ‘totally’ in your favor. (85% of achieving the desire).

Among many variables that define success, the two most prominent ones are 1) Do what others are unwilling to do and 2) Hang in there long after everyone else has let go. The odds are that if the desire to land a new job, a new promotion, or greater wealth is at the level of a “must” or a “will,” then success will be achieved. If desire is a “might” or a “should,” resistance (resulting in failure or underachievement) will most likely win out.

So when working with your clients, it is important to help them determine how badly they want to achieve success. When you assist them in determining how strong (or weak) their desire is, they will then have a pretty good idea whether the odds of success are in their favor or not. Awareness of their resistance and level of desire is the first step to improving their odds of success.

Jay BlockJay Block is a Career Coach, Motivational career and rapid employment expert and McGraw-Hill author (12 titles). After being fired by his best friend, he worked with a renowned coach, became a best selling author, and has helped tens of thousands of people achieve workplace success and fulfillment over the past 26 years. His mission is to empower individuals, professionals, and companies to exploit their strengths and leverage their value to achieve optimal workplace success. Connect with Jay at: www.jayblock.com, www.linkedin.com/in/jayblock, https://www.facebook.com/JayBlockCareers.

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Nancy Miller   on Sunday 04/02/2017 at 07:33 PM

Thank you, Jay. Motivating clients to understand the desire needed to accomplish their goals is one of the most important things we do as coaches. Without a high level of desire, very little can be accomplished.

Bernadette Randolph   on Monday 04/03/2017 at 10:48 AM

I really enjoyed reading your article. Being a Career Coordinator, I have to be able to identify what may be holding our students back from succeeding and talk to it. Your article gives a added approach. Thank you.

Betsy Sheets   on Monday 04/03/2017 at 03:54 PM

Great article, Jay! A good reminder of how the words 'might' and 'should' can build a wall of resistance. Many are unaware they are doing so when using these words in describing their desires.

Marshel Pollock-Lawrence   on Friday 04/07/2017 at 09:10 AM

This is a great article and very informative. Everyone needs helps in figuring out their pathway when laid off, unemployed or looking to change their careers. This article is very helpful and straight to the point so that the client can determine what their future looks like and whether their goals will be achieved. I enjoyed this article and look forward to more articles about reaching the ultimate goal in life-Happiness.

Mary Johnson   on Saturday 04/15/2017 at 08:52 PM

As a Career Coaches we motivated, support and educate clients when they think... I might...I Should...I Must... to get a Will to follow through on they Passions and Desires. Great Article!

Doug Brown   on Saturday 05/27/2017 at 08:39 PM

The fire burns from within! We have total control of our happiness and direction.
5 Steps Master Coach

Kim Allen-Hubbard   on Tuesday 06/20/2017 at 04:57 PM

Hi Jay

Thanks for a great article! I can fully understand everything you highlighted. I have to really see a desire in my customers to succeed, before I put a ton of effort in assisting them with their job search. I do not mean this to not be helpful, but there has been times I spent and entire week with a customer, and find out they have not even attempted to network themselves. I have to keep reminding them that they have to want a new future!

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