In my novel Just Bea, Ryan tells Bea that instead of trying to make herself fit she should find what fits her.
Bea says to Ryan,
‘…I could at least prepare. Do everything possible to increase my chances of success. And I did. It’s harder for me because it doesn’t come naturally, fitting in.’
‘Maybe that’s because you’re starting from the wrong place. Take those Jiminy shoes. You didn’t go squeezing your foot into a pair that was too small or make do with ones that were too big? That would be daft. No, you found the right fit for your size and shape.’
The analogy of finding a shoe to fit came from advice I received when I had become stuck in my career. I was restless in my job; it no longer fulfilled me and I wasn’t getting shortlisted for the jobs I thought I ought to be applying for.
Up until my late thirties, my career progression had been linear. I always knew what the next step should be until I reached this stage in my life. I could only see two options: to stay where I was, or in a similar role, feeling frustrated and dissatisfied, or get promoted to the next level and that wasn’t happening.
A wise woman told me that I had outgrown my job and like a badly fitting show it was starting to pinch and rub. That I knew. But how did I fix it?
The advice was the same as Ryan gave Bea, ‘Find your shape and size and then find the job that fits you.’
I had tried everything else and was tired of throwing myself against the same wall – applying for jobs with high expectations, then disappointment when I got rejected. I had to find another way and although the advice seemed a bit vague, I decided to give it a go.
There were no instructions or rules so I made my own. I had to start with a clean sheet of paper – no preconceived ideas, a completely open mind.
I made a list of things that I was good at and enjoyed. For example:
- Researching what works well and why
- Listening to and enabling others
Then I made a list of the things I didn’t enjoy in my current job.
- Internal politics
- Operational management
I kept on writing – brainstorming. When pages of paper were covered in lists, diagrams, and swirls I took stock. I had a job specification but I didn’t know whether there was a job that would meet it. The posts I had been applying for certainly didn’t. It was a template – my shape and size. Now I just had to find a job that would be a perfect fit.
The next time I opened my trade journal on the jobs page I didn’t look at the job titles, instead I checked the descriptions and then, if they were a possible, I requested a job specification. If I had not taken this approach then I would never have discovered the perfect job for me. My eyes would have slid past the job advert as I had become 100% focused on what I considered to be the next logical move.
I had to go through a rigorous selection process but all of the exercises played to my strengths and of course, I was offered the job. It is a job that I loved and it led to many more exciting opportunities.
There is a lesson for us here. When we hit a brick wall we need to stop and consider why. There is a reason. If we are too focused on one particular outcome then we are blinded to other opportunities and it takes longer for us to find the right path.
We are unique individuals with our own special gifts. How can we expect others to see what we have to offer if we do not know ourselves? It takes imagination and self-belief to find our right path. Honesty and courage. The alternative is to stay still and be miserable or beat ourselves up by believing we are not good enough.
Whether you are looking for promotion, a change of career, or trying to get published, stop and take stock – recognise your unique contribution and then find the right home. I have done this in my journey to publication and in finding the best way to market my books. I know what I am good at and situations where I do not thrive. Nobody knows you as well as you do. So be kind and nurture yourself.