3 Signs You're In The Wrong Job
Erika Andersen, Founder/Partner
My husband and I just returned from a vacation that didn’t live up to our expectations. Don’t get me wrong: it was great being on vacation—I got more sleep in those 10 days than in the preceding two months, and we both really love simply spending time in each other’s company. It was just that our destination disappointed us. So we spent some time last weekend trying to figure out why.
We came up with a 3-element vacation rating system, based on what’s important to us: we called our elements Surroundings, Stuff to Do, and Connection. Surroundings is about the environment: the places we stay, the weather, the people, the food, the roads. How cozy we feel, how much (or little) of a hassle everything is. Stuff to do is just that—the options that exist in the fairly immediate vicinity to do activities that we like and find engaging (we lean heavily toward the historical and natural, with a bit of art and shopping thrown in). And finally, Connection is pure chemistry—do we resonate with this place? Does it make us feel at home? Do we consider going back?
Then we vetted our proposed system using our past 4 sumer vacations. We rated each of them, using a 1-10 scale for each of the 3 categories. It seemed to work: the vacation that was our favorite (a family vacation to Wales last summer) rated a 28, while this most-recent one (to the west coast of Ireland) garnered a mere 14.
We’re psyched because it affords us a way to investigate the possibilities inherent in future vacations that will (we think) make an experience like this last one less likely. But as I reflected on it, I realized that versions of these 3 elements are important indicators of whether your current job (or a job you may be considering) is right for you, as well. You may note that I’m not including compensation in these three categories. While compensation is important to all of us, and something you have to be clear about in terms of what you need—in some ways what you get paid is akin to your vacation budget: you can have a great vacation on a shoestring, and a terrible vacation that costs a lot of money. These three elements give you a way to think about all the non-monetary aspects of a job that may be even more important to your ultimate satisfaction, things to which you may not be giving enough thought.
Here’s how these elements translate into job-world:
Surroundings: This is about all the environmental realities of the job and the company. Is the commute reasonable (from your point of view)? Is your work space comfortable, and does it make it easier to do good work? Do you have the tools and resources you need (or can you get them fairly easily)? Do you generally like the folks around you and feel OK spending your days with them? Are the systems, processes, and policies in place reasonably efficient and effective?
Stuff To Do: Does your day-to-day job consist of things you like to do (for the most part) and find engaging and challenging? Does your job generally play to your strengths—that is, is your success at work primarily dependent on doing stuff you’re good at doing? Are you interested in the industry you’re in and the work your company does?
Connection: Are you passionate about the company’s mission? Are you proud to be associated with it? Do you feel reasonably content and grateful to be working for this company, this department, this boss? Do you feel acknowledged and supported to succeed? If somebody asked you whether you’re planning on building a career here, would you say yes?
Now, take the system for a spin: try it out. Rate your current job (or a job you’re considering) 1-10 on each of the 3 elements above, with 1 being “terrible—doesn’t have any of this,” and 10 being “check, check, check…pretty much great.”
If you give your job an overall score of 15 or less, I’d suggest you dust off your resume (and if you give that score to a job you’re considering—keep looking). The fact the you gave your job that kind of score might give you some insight into why you spend your evenings bitching to your spouse, your friends, or your roommates about your work situation, and why you dread Monday mornings.
But if you score your job anything over a 25, consider yourself very lucky (and put on the full-court press, if it’s one you’re considering). I suspect you’re one of those irritating people who looks forward to getting back to work after a vacation, and who tells people how much you enjoy your job. Good for you…and maybe now you have a little more insight into why you feel so cheerful at work.
I’d also really love to hear your high-scoring and low-scoring job stories. Anybody have a perfect 30? Had a job that you’d score 10 or less…?