When you no longer fit
We use the phrase “to be a good fit” when we interview candidates for a job. We heavily analyze fit when we welcome somebody to our company but we soon forget about it once they’ve joined.
This is what I think we mean when we say “a good fit”:
- Are the candidate’s goals aligned with the company vision?
- Is the candidate’s path of growth aligned with the opportunities the role provides?
- Are the values of the candidate aligned with those of the company or group?
Time, as with any other relationship, introduces change. Change can be good, bad, or neither. But change is inevitable to happen. What was once a good (perhaps perfect) fit might not be anymore. A person that was a perfect match for a company might not always be.
Most change doesn’t happen overnight. When we change or the company we work at changes it generally happens slowly. We are likely to start feeling discomfort long before we feel pain.
If ignored for a long time this discomfort can be a source of burnout.
You might struggle with work, with your assignments, with the vision, with the culture of your workplace. If you were once perfectly aligned with your company on all those fronts, it might be challenging to realize things are no longer the same.
I know I have fought hard against that feeling. My biggest mistake when I struggled to be satisfied at work was thinking I was the problem. If this place was such great a few years back, I thought, why isn’t it now?
I remember thinking that the company was making decision after decision that I disagreed with. Some were small, and some were larger. Eventually, that meant that the company was going in a direction that didn’t align with me.
And although I saw the company going towards a future I was not excited about, and I kept thinking I was the problem.
I took it personally. I thought I wasn’t doing something right. I failing to be effective to get my points across and correct the misdirection. Or I was failing to understand a grander vision under which these decisions made sense.
This situation can be an extremely frustrating time in anybody’s career. I didn’t feel heard or my contributions welcome. I was not effective, and I started doubting myself.
One day I was watching an interview with a veteran, much older than me, who was talking about what was exciting to them now. They talked about old and new technologies with such passion it lighted up something in me.
It reminded me of what lights me up and what motivates me. It reminded me there is work that is meaningful and has value that excites me and helps me believe I can contribute to building a better future.
Ask yourself this question: Is my company meeting my expectations?
You won’t always be a fit for your company, just like your company won’t always be a fit for you.
And that’s ok. It probably means you have outgrown your role and it might be time to try something new.
It’ll take courage and self-compassion to accept you are not a fit. But that’s ok too. It is all part of the journey.