Feeling Miserable at Work? (You Could Be a Fish)
Have you ever been in a situation where you find yourself feeling miserable at work?
Maybe it’s punch-in-the-gut miserable.
Or maybe it’s just a quiet, constant drain that leeches at your energy.
Either way, it’s no fun!
Feeling bad impacts your confidence, your motivation, and your overall sense of self-worth.
We were talking about confidence and feeling downtrodden at work on one of my recent Career Happiness Revolution Webinars, and I said this to one of my students: “Maybe this job just isn’t a fit, and that’s okay.”
She said it was a lightbulb moment for her.
Sometimes we are put in work situations that exacerbate our weaknesses, instead of building on our strengths.
And that is a recipe for disaster.
Feeling miserable at work: Being a fish
So let’s talk about fish for a minute (seriously, I’m going somewhere with this!).
Fish are designed to swim.
They are beautiful in the water, every fin, every scale, every proportion flows to help them navigate smoothly underwater.
They are good at it!
It’s what they were born to do.
Now imagine that same fish on land.
They are miserable.
Besides not being able to move, eat or breathe, it’s a recipe for a very unhappy ending.
Fish don’t work on land.
Think about you for a second.
You’ve got some talents, gifts and abilities.
In the right circumstances, your talents will shine.
In the wrong ones, you’ll be left stuck, uncomfortable, and almost certainly set up for failure.
Even if you are awesome (and you are awesome. Don’t let anyone tell you differently!).
You can’t be awesome at everything.
A real life example
Let’s turn to the annals of a young Christie Mims.
I was living in Boston, having deferred going to graduate school for a year.
I was optimistic, open to anything, and ready to get a job and just have fun for a year.
But September 11th happened, the job market got weird, and I wasn’t yet good at networking.
After months of applying and hoping (which, by the way, is a terrible plan), I finally landed a job at at Patent Law Firm, as an assistant to a Patent Attorney.
Here are some things I am great at: Teaching, writing, creating things, working with people.
Here are some things I suck at: Detailed repetitive work. Reading the fine print. Paperwork. Working mostly alone. Being bored.
Can you guess how that job turned out?
My number one task was to fill out detailed, repetitive paperwork. All day. Every day.
For fun, I got to reorganize our files (can you imagine how great I am at that?).
I was TERRIBLE at this job.
And you guys, I tried so hard.
I re-read documents, I checked my work, and still – I was terrible. I’m not naturally detail-oriented! I was trying to use skills that I don’t have!
My boss, who was a really really nice man who liked to hire recent college grads for a year or two before they went off to grad school, completely had his spirit broken by my work.
On my best day, I was solidly mediocre.
On my worst day, he had to do his job and mine.
When I quit to to go grad school, he breathed a sigh of relief and instantly hired an experienced assistant who wanted a career doing that kind of work.
I hated that job and felt like a terrible person because I just wasn’t good at it.
And you know what? That’s okay.
I was a fish on land.
I was in a job that didn’t utilize ANY of my talents or skills, and moreover put me in one of my least favorite work environments. No wonder my boss had to have hard conversations with me.
I wasn’t a fit.
And quitting was such a relief.
I needed to be in a place where I could swim.
Ask yourself this:
Are you a fish on land?
Or are you in a place where you at least have a chance of swimming (even if it’s just a kiddie pool).
Take your work environment into context!
Part of the reason you might not be succeeding at work (or in your career in general) could be that you are a fish on land.
It’s time to find your water! (You can do this!)
Want more help with that?
No worries, if you are like “But Christie, how on earth do I figure out what I really want to do?” I highly recommend you grab my free fancy-pants workbook on the 6 Simple Steps to Finding Work You Love.
It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’ll get you started on a path to swimming. Grab it here.