FEELING STUCK SUCKS
I don’t mind change. In fact, there are times when I create chaos in my life just to prod me from one place to another. What I hate, however, is feeling stuck. That’s why shortening the time between deciding to take that next step and actually moving forward is a great idea. Understanding your personality type, your inherent wiring, what I call your “behavioral DNA” can help.
I know what it’s like to be stressed, worn out and short-tempered at work and at home. Angst, guilt and the feeling that I’m not doing my best anywhere are no strangers to me. That said, I also know how it feels when you can’t wait to face the new day, to have your life in focus and like what you see. Let me tell you, on any day, I’d choose the latter.
Over the course of my career, I wasted a lot of Sundays wishing Monday wouldn’t come. After law school I worked at a large Wall Street law firm. It was a coveted job and I was miserable. I couldn’t believe that I had incurred debt and added inordinate stress to my family and myself to be helping people do things that I didn’t care about or sometimes, didn’t even believe in. Although I tried to make it better—switching from litigation to corporate, choosing the small, quirky clients, nothing worked. When my son was born I opted out for a year, returning to the workforce as an in-house lawyer at a company then in its infancy—Cablevision.
Don’t get me wrong, Cablevision was a great gig. During my 20 year career there, I had the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people doing a broad spectrum of jobs. I learned an incredible amount and was at the cutting edge of a creative, life-changing industry. I was able to hone my strategic thinking and analytical and advocacy skills. And, every time I felt like it was time to move on—generally every 5 years, I was able to restructure my legal job and try something new—from being a general operations attorney to specializing in employment law and business ethics issues. Yet, for me, something was missing. I felt like I was working harder, not smarter. While I, like others who are in careers that are not consistent with their personality types, could be very successful by other people’s standards, I usually felt stressed, overwhelmed and unfulfilled.
It wasn’t until after leaving law, becoming a career management coach and specializing in understanding personality type that I realized I’d been in a career for 30+ years, where I was unlikely to find the fulfillment I sought, the benefit of doing something that is consistent with who you inherently are.
So while I am the type of person who likes to build consensus, think “outside of the box;” “do the right thing” and look at challenges and see opportunities, I was in a career (and a job) that often required to me to be adversarial. I worked in a world where past practice was king (even if it didn’t make sense); where everyone had to be treated in exactly the same way (even if it wasn’t right for them); where I had to look at things with an eye for what could go wrong (not what can go right); and where I had to approach every situation as a possible lawsuit (and guard against it.)
I now know that there are fields in law for which I might have been better suited, as there are jobs in every field where people with different personality types can flourish. The key is to understand how you’re inherently wired and choose jobs that work with who you are. The research is clear. If you “go with your grain” (as opposed to against it), if you work with your natural tendencies, you will be less stressed, more comfortable, more effective, more energetic, and more motivated. Ultimately, you’ll have a more satisfying and happy life.
In some of my future blogs, I’ll share some of what I’ve learned developing G.E.M.S.™–A Guide to Exploring and Maximizing Strengths,™the proprietary personality type self-assessment tool that helps my clients better understand who they are, how to flourish in their work and personal lives andlive a life where they feel satisfied, competent and valued.