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.



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  1. On so many levels, I am right there with you. ((Hugs))

  2. Oh! I hear you.

    Good luck on those details in the short term though.

  3. I hear you. Loud and clear. xo

  4. Oh my goodness, do I hear you. xoxo

  5. I am really struggling with the same thing right now. Less than thrilled with work these days, but not sure I’d be happier at home. I think I need an outlet, but what?!? I wish there were easy answers.

  6. … having fallen into a job that FITS me in ways I didn’t imagine or anticipate, I can say not a day goes by that I don’t experience deep gratitude to the universe that I ended up here. This is not without angst over the fading of my academic aspirations, however… and I do make lots of mistakes… but at a very deep level the sense of “fit” remains.

    I hope that you can get to that place, that you can find your fit. You’re obviously extremely bright and capable!

  7. Oh boy, you know that this is just exactly me. My job right now is VERY detail oriented and NOT big picture focused and every few days I do something that just makes me cringe. I hate making mistakes. I try not to make them. But, I do. I still do. I’m just not an attention to administrative details type gal. The figuring out WHAT you want to do is a long long long hard hard hard process. It is way easier to skate along and pretend that you can suck it up for just a little bit longer. I’ve been working on assessing myself and potential careers for about a year now and honestly….sometimes I feel like I am no closer. But, I’ve learned a lot and am really digging into a few careers. We’ll see. I would recommend my career counselor…but am a little frustrated with the process. I will say that it takes more effort to try and work through what you would like to do than it does to be aggrivated with your current situation….which makes it unpalatable to begin the process….but….seize the day. The thing I remind myself is that just like our significant others, there are no perfect fit careers….just some that play to our strengths more than others.

  8. I would make a *terrible* accountant. I make detail mistakes all the time at work- but my case management and relationship building is so strong, those can be overlooked.

    My checkbook has not added up EVER.

  9. I feel like I just wrote this blog. I am a CPA, I HATE my job. I became a CPA to prove to my father that I could, because it is recession proof and it seemed to be the practical choice– even though I fought hard for C’s in most of my major classes and looking back it was pretty clear in college that accounting probably wasn’t the best fit for me. I passed the CPA exam in one sitting (back when they used to do it that way, 2001) because I am as stubborn as a herd of mules and studied 30 hours per week for 12 weeks. I wonder constantly what I would do with myself if I were using my actual strengths instead of fighting my way up this hill (to be honest, my job makes me constantly wonder if I even HAVE any strengths). I struggle every single day with the little details. It is the bane of my existence. Currently, I am a tax manager (I should be working, not blog-commenting, but I am sitting in my office trying not to cry over, you guessed it, making a mistake on a client who yells at me frequently) filling in for another tax manager who is on maternity leave. If you figure out what to do with your career, I hope you’ll share…Thanks for this blog, I feel less alone…

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