Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
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When Your Job Doesn’t Fit Right…

If you have got two left feet, you don’t need to prove a point by becoming a ballerina. Life is never a perfect fit, but it should still fit – especially at work.

Back when I was a reporter, I worked with a man who consistently made fact errors and required three times the editing of anyone else on staff. Since the paper was a union shop, he couldn’t be fired, so he was relegated to night and weekend shifts and given the worst assignments. He told me he’d been “utterly miserable” for all but two years there, yet he wound up staying for more 20, languishing until the paper went out of business. Twenty miserable years!

What was really tragic about it was that he loved technology and math – and was brilliant in those areas. He just wouldn’t pivot toward his strengths. He wouldn’t consider technical writing or IT positions because his miserable reporting job had a good paycheck, benefits and union protection. If only he’d embraced his considerable strengths instead of trying to force success with his considerable weaknesses.

Most of us have what I call a “considerable strength.” Mine is information. I know how to get, process and communicate it on deadline. That is valuable talent. But I also have my considerable weaknesses – math, paperwork, foreign languages, bookkeeping… there’s a long list. So what? I know what I am good at, and I play to my strengths.

Are you playing to your considerable strengths? If you aren’t, your work life is more stressful and less successful than it could be.

Examine what you are doing and decide whether it’s time for a change. If it isn’t going to get better, DO SOMETHING. There is a difference between diving into discomfort so you can learn new things and stubbornly trying to make a bad fit work.

Ask yourself:

  1. How do you feel when you show up for work? Are you more filled with hope and purpose or resignation and dread?
  2. Are you on track to advance? Are you being recognized and rewarded for your contributions? Is there room for you to grow in your job or are you stuck in place?
  3. How are your work relationships? Are your colleagues supporting and advancing you? Do you fit in?
  4. How do you feel on Sunday nights? Are you ready to roll into the next week, or are you anxious?
  5. Is your job fulfilling? Challenging? Purposeful? Or does it just look good on paper and/or provide a reliable paycheck? Does the prospect of doing the same thing for many years excite you or turn you off?

You know in your gut if you are forcing yourself to succeed at your weakness. Explore other options and take your time to find the right fit. Don’t run in and quit your job when you don’t have another one and don’t take the first thing that comes along without careful deliberation. Change is good. Risk is good. Plan your change and fortify your risk.

Few of us get to love every aspect of our work every minute of the day. You will always have to make peace with doing some things you don’t enjoy or might not be great at, but when you fight to make something work that really doesn’t, you are wasting time and wasting life. Are you willing to lose 20 years to a bad fit?

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