By Judi Perkins
Square Peg in a Round Hole
Thanks to Fisher-Price, as babies we learn a concept that we seem to forget by the time we're adults: you can't put a square peg in a round hole.
It's human nature. If we don't know what we're looking for, we become obscured by what we're attracted to. And then we don't realize we've reverted to pounding the square peg into the hole on that plastic table right in front of us when it's the round peg that fits.
Many continue to force it - and with a lot of hard work, sweat, and stress - it can be made to fit, but never very well and never for very long. Eventually that peg is going to explode out of the hole into which you're trying to mash it.
And by the time you realize it's not fitting, you're so far in that instead of realizing what's happened and getting out, you try harder to make it work - or, do nothing. In both cases, not only does the fit fail to improve, it becomes more tenuous with time.
What Do You Want?
Failure to define what you want is where the problem begins. And unless luck intervenes, it's not long before the new job isn't as satisfying as it initially appeared. Once you realize it's not the right fit, it often takes a while before you actually decide to leave. And in this case, desperation does not breed objectivity.
Avoiding the "unhappy at work" syndrome can be solved in a few simple pro-active steps especially if you don't get bogged down in the discomfort and fear of the minutia along the way.
- Acknowledge that you hate your job and want to be elsewhere
- Get a solid idea of what you like, don't like, what motivates you, and what you excel at by examining your previous jobs
- Identify what you want in your next job and in what areas you're willing to compromise
- Actively go find it, and exclude anything that doesn't match it or come close
- As you interview - and learn more information about each opportunity - pursue it if it fits and dump it if it doesn't
You're looking for the company that meets your profile and one that is looking for an employee like you. Every person is unique, every company is unique, and every job is unique.
Start by Looking Inward
You need to know why you're valuable, what you offer, and how and why you will be a value-added employee. Otherwise, whether you're tempted by the salary, blinded by the need to pay bills, or operating under a haze of assumptions, you might soon discover it's not the Utopia you thought it would be.
So pay attention to that long-ago lesson you learned sitting on the living room floor. Know your color and shape, so to speak, before you go looking, so you're able to spot the place that you want to be. Then, you'll be more likely to slide into place and rest there contentedly.