In the Quest for the Perfect Job, the First Step Is to Know Yourself

Also, it’s often best to be candid with bosses who tease
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

This article appears in print in the December 2019 issue. Click here for a free subscription.

Q: I had a great career for many years, including fantastic perks, first-class travel, new and interesting things happening every day. I was supporting someone in the inner circle and privy to a lot of personal information, but the job was permeating my life 24/7. I made the decision to enter into a simpler life but now the only roles I can find tie me to a desk and computer all day. How do I manage these trade-offs in this phase of my career when the simpler roles have no flexibility?

Dear Trading Up:
You are going about this backward. I suspect your frustration is caused by the slight envy of seeing inside someone else’s glamourous, jet-setting life instead of creating your own fabulous opportunities. Only you can define what having a simpler life is but there are plenty of jobs in this day and age where you can work from home, work part-time, be an independent consultant, control your hours, have the life you want and not be stuck behind a desk all day.

Before you go searching for a job, you need to figure out what skills you have to offer, what you enjoy doing that would add value and what ideal environment brings you joy. Finding a job is as much about you interviewing the company as it is about that business learning about you, and you should not settle. Not every job is for everybody.

I challenge you to look inward as you embark on this next phase of your life. Is flexibility your biggest requirement? Trading up is defined as exchanging a less valuable or desirable item for a more valuable or desirable one. A good old-fashioned vision board is in your future. Once you know what you love and what your dream job looks like, it will be easier to find.

Q: I recently made a big mistake at work involving a major customer. It was preventable, and I owned up to it. It didn’t cost the company money, but we did have to do some damage control. My boss said it would have been a bigger issue if it was a trend but said my performance has been good and not to worry about it. Still, he teases me about it — sometimes in front of colleagues — and it makes me uncomfortable. I know he’s just kidding, and I have a good relationship with him. I’m guessing he is maybe trying to make me feel better, but it doesn’t. I just want to move on and don’t know how to handle it.

Dear Moving On:
Good for you for owning up to the mistake. That is the best thing to do in this situation. Some people fixate on their mistakes and those ensuing insecurities can have a negative ripple effect on future performance. When you are known for producing consistently good work, you can survive making mistakes and not have them be the end of the world or your job.

That said, not many people truly like to be teased, especially in front of others, and it makes me question your boss’s motivation. We all want to work where there can be lighthearted moments, but it sounds like he may be enjoying watching you stumble. It is so hard to differentiate good-natured teasing from misguided or passive-aggressive criticism.

If you have already tried to ignore it or laugh it off, then you have to be more direct. I tend to believe honest conversations are the key to healthy relationships and cohesive work environments. You said you have a good relationship, so the next time it comes up pull him aside, thank him again for letting you own up to it and tell him that the teasing has run its course.

Got a question? Send it to Beth.Halvorsen@tigeroak.com

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