Looking for Clues

In my past jobs, there was always something I couldn’t stand about them.

When my misery at the thought of staying outweighed my fear of the unknown, I’d leave for what I hoped were greener pastures.

Except usually the pastures were only greener for a short time, and then a pack of dogs would run over, piss on the grass and turn it yellow.

I’m not sure what the dogs represent in this metaphor.

I often felt that my inability to enjoy what I was doing was my fault. Or due to character flaws that I’d never be able to fix.

Which I guess would mean that I was the pack of dogs pissing on my own green pastures?

It took a long time for me to realize this, but those crazy-making things about my jobs were actually clues pointing me toward what I needed my work to look like all along.

  • The feeling of meaninglessness pointed to the fact that I need my work to have purpose.
  • Being annoyed with stupid questions meant I need to work with smart, sensitive people.
  • Being exhausted at the end of the day from dealing with too many people meant I need to honor my introversion by having time to work in solitude.
  • Winding up bored easily meant I need to be able to use my creativity at work.
  • My low bullshit tolerance and belief that silly rules don’t apply to me meant running my own business would likely be a good fit.

I wasn’t the pack of dogs killing my own grass, I was on the wrong pasture to begin with.

Don’t get me wrong. Do I have some rough edges that could use smoothing? Hell, yeah. Who doesn’t?

The point is that I wasn’t unhappy at work because I was broken.

Remember the Puzzle Pieces? Our personalities and gifts and strengths – by their very nature – mean that some work will fit and some won’t.

It’s a process. You think you know what shape work you need, so you try it.

Maybe it fits and maybe it doesn’t.

All you can do is to notice what did and didn’t fit so that next time you can look for a Work Piece that fits better with your Essence Piece.

Most importantly, an ill-fitting Work Piece doesn’t indicate a problem with your Essence Piece.

But it can show you more about what kind of work will fit you. And that’s true whether you work for the Man or have your own business.

What can you understand about the kind of work that’s fulfilling to you – who you serve and how you help them – by looking at what’s not working now?

5 thoughts on “Looking for Clues

  1. Alina

    I love this post! I feel that way sometimes – like I am not happy at work because there is something with the “me” piece and what if there is no right work for me because I’ll find a way to be unhappy no matter what the situation is? That’s a terrible feeling. Thanks for the reminder that the point is to find a work piece that fits the essence piece and that it’s possible for everyone.

  2. Kylie

    Oh, Victoria, thank you for reaffirming what I’ve been thinking for…a long time now. I mean, I’ve heard lots of people to say it, but it’s always helpful to hear it from a lovely person like you, you know? Honestly, for so long, I thought that there was something wrong with me when I couldn’t bear the stress of working in jam-packed coffee shops, and then when I got so burnt out as an overworked and poorly-treated grant writer. Now I can see it: why on Earth should I be expected to thrive in those sorts of environments? They’re right for some people, but not for me. And each time I get a clue, I can inch closer to what DOES work.

  3. Heidi Fischbach

    Oh Victoria. So wonderfully said. And who better to help people finding their right thing–the thing that fits them so perfectly–than you… you who know and have been getting curious about what fits and what doesn’t, you who have such a lovely way of putting it into words and holding a mirror to people you work with… You helped me so much in the “crying every day” part of leaving places and things that didn’t fit me. Oh my friend, you da best.

  4. Square-Peg Karen

    I LOVE posts that help us re-remember that we’re not the problem/to blame/wrong for how we feel, but when I read one this well written (and this heart-touching) ohhhhhhhmy – I superduperoverthetop LOVE LOVE it!

    Thanks for sharing the brilliance here!

  5. Victoria Post author

    @Alina – I felt that way a lot, too – that I’d always find a way to be unhappy (sometimes I still feel that way). And truthfully, for me, there are certain patterns that got started along the way, where unhappiness became a habit and part of my identity. It’s something I have to watch out for. That being said, understanding the shape of my Essence Piece and looking for a better-fitting Work Piece was a huge part of recognizing the patterns that I needed to work on. Hang in there, and best wishes!

    @Kylie – Yes! Sometimes I’d feel like I was taking crazy pills. Or like I was just being picky.

    @Heidi – Oh, my sweet pea, thank you. And look at all you’ve done since then! *mwah!*

    @Karen – *blush* Thank you thank you.

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