The Ill-Fitting Career.February 11, 2013 at 7:22 am | Posted in Career angst, Choosing Happiness., My life | 9 Comments
On Friday, in the midst of the beginnings of the Great Blizzard of ’13, I got an email from the woman I work for. Apparently, the client I worked on nearly a year ago had a question about a number. Boss Lady asked me, Can you look at the number she’s referring to and tell me what happened?
So I did, in between incessant questions and requests from Lucky, since Charlie was lucky enough to be working in the attic that day.
The answer: I have no idea how that number came to be. It seemed to have a formula associated with it when everything else was hardcoded. And it clearly wasn’t right based on a quick check to the financials.
I knew, when I sent the email back saying that the number was wrong that it wasn’t the end of it.
It wasn’t. Boss Lady took the opportunity to point out three other examples over the course of the past year where I had made “stupid mistakes.” And her comment, which honestly was presented pretty nicely, was that I was great to work with and smart – that this was the only thing that I really needed to work on, because we’re consultants and we can’t be making stupid mistakes.
She’s harping on it because she’s sending me to a new client where I REALLY need to be detail oriented. And I need to work hard on slowing down and performing a good self-review BEFORE I give my work to anyone to review.
I’ve been in accounting for 10 years now.
And. I’ve heard the same damn comments for the past ten years. My great failing in accounting is that I miss things. Small, stupid mistakes. I know it. I’ve worked really hard on it for the past ten years, working longer hours, creating my process so that I have time to work on a schedule, step away, then REVIEW the schedule.
So yeah, I need to double down on my work and ensure I tie out every damn number before I present it to someone for review.
But yesterday, on my run, I couldn’t help wondering: What would it be like if I had a career which played to my strengths?
I mean, I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t make mistakes – I’m human. But what would it be like to spend my energy working hard at something in which I was really good? Instead of spending all my time fixing mistakes, or working around my weakness, I could devote my energy into my job, and come home feeling like I am actually GOOD at what I do.
I chose my career largely to prove that I could be capable at it – to both my father and then the professor who told me, astutely it seems, that I wasn’t detail oriented enough to be a good accountant.
I chose this career because it is flexible, and accounting is largely recession-proof – and I couldn’t handle the idea where I’d be out of work during an economic downturn AGAIN at some point in the future. And there are times where I enjoy what I do; when I’m creating financials, for example. I do love it when everything ties out; it’s neat and clean and just WORKS. But I will always struggle with stupid mistakes.
This career I’ve chosen is ill-fitting; it’s JUST the wrong size, and I’m constantly having to tug, adjust, and pull it to make it look okay on me.
I am far from Stuck in this career. In a couple of years we would have the flexibility for me to do something else; not work if that’s what I wanted to do (I’m not sure I want that, either, though I confess I love the idea of it right now).
And then there’s the whole Figure out what you’d WANT to do, Serenity thing going on. Over the past 10 years, whenever I’ve complained about my ill-fitting career, I’ve never had an answer to the question that is inevitably asked. What do I WANT to do?
I don’t know.
So I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, I think, and hope that something presents itself to me in the coming years.