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How to create the career of your choice!

So you were hired for your dream job (or so you thought). Only now, you’ve realized that it’s not what you expected it to be. Maybe you were a bit idealistic about the industry and thought the work would be more meaningful than it actually is. Or maybe the working environment doesn’t play to your strengths—you prefer independent work when everything’s based around teams, or there are just too many rules to follow. Now you feel let down and restless, and you’re wondering whether your expectations were just too high.

So, what’s the deal? Do you suck it up and feel miserable for the rest of your life? Or do you do what most people suggest—figure out what career would better suit you and apply for it?

Believe it or not, there is a middle ground. Before you run from a difficult job as a flight response, let’s figure out if things just needs a little personality-proofing so you can create the mental space you need to enjoy your career again.

Accept the Things You Cannot Change

First up, a reality check. While it’s easy to blame the job, the career, the industry, the company, your overbearing boss, your whining, passive-aggressive co-workers or the rabid advancement of capitalism for your job woes, the truth is usually more mundane. Chances are, you’re unhappy in your job because you’re unsure about what exactly you need to feel satisfied.

So, while you could try to shift the blame on things that are outside your control, it’s better to examine the things you can change. We all have more control over our happiness than we realize—and even small actions can make a massive difference.

Courage to Change the Things You Can

Even if the job is not a perfect fit, surely everything is not terrible, or how did you wind up in that job in the first place? It’s a great cosmic joke that complaining about something makes you more miserable and ineffectual. So it might be a smart move to spend less time griping about your job, or worrying about a career change, and start making a list of the things you love about your current job—and the things you hate. No panicking. No hair-tearing. Just a calm look at the pressure points and the opportunity to get honest about your situation.

Now, the list will be different for everyone, and I’m not here to tell you why you’re unhappy because I don’t know your exact situation But there are some areas where most introverts struggle, and most perceivers struggle and so on, and you can learn from those common experiences to get clear on why your job is crushing your soul.

The following are just a few ideas to help you craft your job so it works better for your personality.


Things that can make you miserable:

  • Constantly speaking to people—phone calls, meetings, watercooler talk.

  • Open plan offices; not enough privacy.

  • Too much teamwork, decision-making by consensus.

  • Large-group networking; too many socials.

  • Being put on the spot; having to think out loud.

  • Being passed over; anger that your accomplishments are not being noticed or appreciated.

How to personality-proof your job:

  • Schedule alone-time in your calendar—turn off the phone and return those calls in a one-hour time window so you can get them all out of the way in one go .

  • Retreat to a quiet area; wear headphones; screen your cubicle with plants; go for a walk to clear your head. Make phone calls outside so you can at least feel the sun on your face while you’re speaking.

  • Meet key people for coffee or lunch and build relationships one-on-one. Or look for public speaking opportunities – not as scary as it sounds since you can prepare and people always want to connect with the speaker.

  • Prepare for meetings so you always have something to say; don’t be afraid to ask for an agenda ahead of time. If the brilliant insight escapes you, ask a relevant question instead.

  • Keep a rolling “brag sheet” of your accomplishments so you can show your boss what you’ve quietly been achieving (successfully completing projects, winning new business, being the voice of reason).


Things that can make you miserable:

  • Working alone; completing projects independently.

  • Being chained to your desk.

  • Restrictions on talking; being told to “shut up and get on with it” when you’d rather talk through your ideas.

  • Not receiving any praise or encouragement for your efforts.

  • Being treated like a joke (because you make them).

How to personality-proof your job:

  • Get assigned to group work; move to another department, attend work functions or join a committee to get your people fix. Can you become the go-to person for event planning to expand your interactions with people?

  • Create action areas. For instance, you could set up a whiteboard in the corner and hold your brainstorming/ catch up sessions there?

  • Switch it up; schedule a meeting after you’ve been working solo on a report all morning to re-energize with other people.

  • Manage your visibility. Talk to your boss about everything you’ve achieved over the past three months. Ask for feedback about where your strengths lie and what you could do to improve.

  • Schedule time in the calendar to discuss ideas and solutions with people so you exchange feedback without overwhelming others. Send them an agenda so they know you mean business.


Things that can make you miserable:

  • Constant disruption and changes.

  • Not getting clear instructions or the details you need to do your job.

  • Having to re-do work because someone changed their minds or didn’t give accurate information the first time around.

  • Co-workers who are not as committed and hard-working as they could be; you’re tired of feeling overworked and undervalued.

  • Too many pointless meetings and time wasting.

  • A culture of rewarding people who self-promote rather than people who “do.”

How to personality-proof your job:

  • Ask for advance warning of any major changes. Don’t be scared to ask for practical examples of how the new system will impact your work routines.

  • Hold onto the traditions that make you feel safe; can you keep a list of birthdays or achievements and anchor some celebrations around those events?

  • Push for the details; don’t start tasks until the objectives are stated explicitly.

  • Get information in writing so you’re absolutely clear on what needs to be done and you don’t waste time on the wrong endeavors.

  • Like introverts, keep a rolling brag sheet of your achievements and make sure your boss knows about them. Claim credit for your contributions!


Things that can make you miserable:

  • Monotony; long slow jobs that go on forever; a focus on facts and details.

  • Being forced to follow silly rules; micromanaging bosses.

  • Too much time doing the unengaging, less stimulating parts of your job than the creative things you’d rather be doing.

  • Lack of respect; being seen as a “production unit” rather than a creative contributor.

  • Having no visibility into the big picture and no confidence that managers will do the right thing, for the people or the process.

How to personality-proof your job:

  • Switch things up—work at your desk, use a meeting room, work outside. Work on project A for an hour before switching over to project B. Look for ways to change the scenery and keep it interesting. Can you work from home one day?

  • Negotiate with managers how you can be accountable yet do the work in your own way; over-deliver so they know you can be trusted.

  • Explore every avenue for flexing your creative muscles—side projects, training programs, community outreach projects?

  • Craft your job around the things you care about, so you spend most of your time on these tasks (you still have to perform your job role!). See if you can alter the boundaries of your jobs by taking on more (or fewer) tasks, such as training people if you’re interested in education.

  • Be open about the pressure areas. Ask the boss for help in delegating the detail-driven stuff or cutting some of the mundane tasks in favor of more specialized work.


Things that can make you miserable:

  • Being fobbed off or lied to.

  • Poor decision making based on unobjective criteria that makes no logical sense.

  • Being busy all day doing work of no real value—you’re constantly being asked to do meaningless things or to behave inconsistently.

  • Having to “sugarcoat” issues; dealing with overly sensitive or emotional people.

  • Rewards are linked to personalities, not achievements.

How to personality-proof your job:

  • Check yourself—are you being assertive enough? Have you told bosses that they’re not keeping their promises (they may not even realize they’re doing it).

  • Negotiate more time to do something right, rather than just “doing” something.

  • Focus on a skill to boost that will add value (and won’t hurt your career prospects either).

  • Create your own standards of excellence—if something is non-negotiable, don’t do it.

  • Ask your boss for feedback on your performance; communicate where you want to be and ask for help getting there—you’ll feel less marginalized and powerless if you actively take control.


Things that can make you miserable:

  • Being in a critical or tense environment; a tyrant boss who has no idea how to get the best from people.

  • Office politics; too many people stirring the pot.

  • Being overloaded with work but too afraid to push back.

  • Disregard of your personal life; no awareness of the commitments you have outside of work.

  • Lack of authenticity—you feel like you’re just contributing the rat race and what you do doesn’t matter.

How to personality-proof your job:

  • Groups are key. It’s hard to work with someone you don’t like so check whether a single renegade personality is making you miserable.

  • Talk to your boss about ways to better prioritize your workload; it’s okay to set some boundaries!

  • Mentally reframe the purpose of your job to align it with your passion—for instance, you’re not just processing insurance claims; you’re helping people get back on their feet after a car accident.

  • Find ways to contribute more to the team. Feelers want to own their relationships and know their opinion matters.

  • Take care of yourself. Work is not such a burden when you have other things you enjoy.


Things that can make you miserable:

  • Too many “surprises” disrupting your schedule.

  • Trying to get forward motion on projects that never get off the ground—or never get finished.

  • Inconsistency in decision making; the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

  • Dealing with procrastinating and unproductive people; those who talk and never do.

  • Long, slow jobs that are time-consuming but the benefits won’t be realized for a long time.

How to personality-proof your job:

  • Manage interruptions—schedule dedicated time for when people can interrupt; go into headphone prison if you have to.

  • Take on lots of short-term projects (low hanging fruit) that you can cross off your to-do list. Getting things finished will give you a sense of accomplishment.

  • Negotiate short-and-hard deadlines that will force people towards closure of a task.

  • Be the person who helps out to keep projects on track—the person you would love to work with—and wait for karma to repay the effort. Call in favors if you have to.


Things that make you miserable:

  • Overbearing bosses; controlling behavior.

  • Rigidity; your day is constrained by set-in-stone rules; feeling trapped by the job.

  • Having to follow through with details after the idea phase is over; anxiety over deadlines.

  • Having to keep things neatly organized.

  • Working with people who are uptight, rigid and unimaginative.

How to personality-proof your job:

  • Get involved in something you’re interested in to make the work day feel less boring—this could be work stuff, or you might start a lunchtime running club.

  • Like Intuitives, you need to switch things up—work in different places, work on different projects; speak to you boss about loosening the anal-retentive rules.

  • Take on stuff that scares you; trying something new is liberating for you.

  • If necessary, make a radical change like cutting your work hours so you can spend time on personal projects and side gigs.

The bottom line is this: there’s no reason to move jobs at the first sign of trouble, but you don’t have to stay unhappy either. With a little self-knowledge, creativity and active job crafting, you may be able to design a career that fits more with your authentic self. In fact, your dream job might be right in front of you.

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