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What the Chicken and the Egg Teaches Us About the Job Search

career advice career coaching getting unstuck job search paradox Jun 16, 2022

Let’s say you want to leave your job, but you can’t because you’re so busy working.


This, my friends, is the classic chicken and the egg problem.


The Chicken and the Egg

You know the deal. Which came first the chicken or the egg? We know that chickens make eggs and from these eggs, chickens emerge. So we need a chicken to create an egg but we need an egg to create a chicken. Uh oh! We’re stuck.

Let’s look at some perspectives that try to help us solve the chicken and the egg problem.


Science Perspective

Evolutionary science, at least as explained by the top Google returns, doesn’t really help. First, they proclaim that the egg came first. This is perhaps an overly literal answer. Eggs evolved before chickens, but these are general eggs, not chicken eggs. 


If we’re curious about the order of chicken eggs and chicken, we have to look further. The first true chicken was the result of the mating of two proto-chickens (the species that came right before the chicken on the evolutionary chain.) Those two proto-chickens created the egg that hatched the first real chicken. So again, the evolutionists would tell you that the egg came first.


But wait! Other scientists point out that real chicken eggs require a special ingredient that occurs only in the ovary of an actual chicken, so we are back to where we started.


Religion and Myth

In the creation process outlined in the Bible, the chicken came before the egg.


But it’s the egg that takes a prominent role in other creation myths. In the Satapatha Brahmana of India, a golden egg gives birth to the creator, Prajapati. In Chinese lore, an egg gives birth to a primal being, Pangu. Ancient Egyptians had a story about the sun god emerging from a primeval mound, suggestive of an egg.


How to Leave Your Job When You Have No Time to Search

All right, already. But how does this help you with your chicken and egg problem: You want to leave your job, but you don’t have the time or energy to make it happen because you’re so busy working.


First off, we can infer from our examination of the chicken and the egg that there is no correct answer. That might sound disheartening but I think it’s good news. It means you get to decide how this works. You can simply decide that it’s not a problem.


How do you do that?


Transcend the Paradox

The main way would be to transcend the problem. If you look at the problem from a high enough perspective, the issue becomes irrelevant. For example, for those who embrace a literal interpretation of the Bible, it doesn’t really matter that evolution has no definitive answer to the chicken and the egg problem. Their perspective is that God creates things. Does it really matter what God created first: the chicken or the egg? No, not really. What matters is that God came first.


Reframe the Problem

Another approach is reframing. You can see that in play with the chicken/egg examples above. The evolutionists, for example, quickly arrived at an answer by taking the question quite literally. The chicken/egg paradox doesn’t specify that we are interested in chicken eggs. So the evolutionists played with assumptions and could quite easily declare that eggs (generic ones, not chicken eggs) predate chickens.

When pressed to answer whether chicken eggs predate chickens, we see evolutionists frame the problem from their assumptions about how evolution works. (And who can blame them since they’re evolutionists). Of course, they are going to say that the chicken was an evolutionary leap that sprung from two photo-chickens. (But, actually, they are kind of skirting the problem. I mean, how do we characterize the egg issued from the proto-chicken hen? Was it, or was it not, a chicken egg?


Mythologies also play with assumptions. All of creation, they say, emerges from a cosmic egg, so of course, the egg comes first.


I’m trying to stretch your thinking with all of these examples. I’m trying to get you into a more expansive state. When we’re fixated on problems, we are in contraction. It’s impossible to be creative from there.



Let’s get a little more practical. What do some of these ideas look like when applied to your job malaise?



First of all, a job search does not have to be time and energy-consuming. 


What if it was easy? What if you just sent a resume to someone you knew and that lead to just one interview and that one interview yielded a six-figure job. 


I know that sounds crazy, but I know it’s possible because I did it. And it was very intentional. I planned to have such a job search because I didn’t feel like doing something more intense.


Think about it: landing a job is really about lining up a couple of events. Someone has a need, they become aware they have a need, they become aware that you are available to fill that need, and they see that you are the best person to fill that need. That’s pretty simple.


Standard practice is to wait until a job listing appears somewhere, send in a resume and maybe a cover letter, give an algorithm a crack at filtering out your resume, then go through the interview grind with a bunch of other people. This does take a lot of work and is energy-draining.


When you sign up for the standard approach, you’re signing up for something hard. How can you make it easy instead?


Challenge the Assumptions

What happens when we challenge the assumptions that make up our paradox: you want to leave your job but you don’t have the time or energy to find a new one?


To start, we could question you wanting to leave your job. Why? Are you miserable? You’re not making enough money?


The first thing to do is fall in love with your current job. I have some tips on how to do this here. The premise is pretty simple. Decide that you love (or at least like your job). Find all the reasons you like it. Focus your attention on those factors. Be grateful and appreciative every day and try to grow your sphere of appreciation daily.


You may have resistance to doing this, but really, it’s a selfish act. YOU will be the main beneficiary. And I’m not saying love your job so that you can stay there. I’m saying love your job so that you cultivate the energy to leave it.


You can also challenge your assumptions about time. People talk about not having enough time, but that’s never the issue. Time is unchanging. There are 24 hours in every day without exception. The issue is that you are trying to cram too many things into the time that is available. 

You can’t change how long a day is but you can change your priorities. If you want time to search for a job, you only need to make it a higher priority. 


You might say that I’m just playing with semantics, but I see this as a question of personal power. When you say that you don’t have time, you’re playing the victim. When you say, “it’s just not that important to me,” you are actually reclaiming your power. So be honest with yourself. How are you prioritizing your job search?


Bottom line: is it the chicken or the egg? You decide. Transcend the paradox.


If you want help with stretching your thinking and transcending the paradoxes that have you stuck, I’d love to talk with you. Sign up for a free session here:

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