Best of CoBiz: The top three mistakes people make when it comes to work

Are you doing what you are for work? You cannot be happy in your work if you are not. Here are the top three mistakes we see people making when it comes to work:

1). People work in companies where they don’t fit into the culture of the organization

2). People work for bosses, with colleagues and in teams that don’t share their values or vision

3). People pursue careers that accentuate their flaws instead of allowing them to express their gifts.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure that your work is truly an expression of who you are.

1). Know your type. There are many different vocational tests out there to help you determine your basic type. For years, I have worked with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and find it, in the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing with it, to be the most valuable as well as most accurate. The DISC and several others are also available. Knowing something about your personality type is a great first step.

2). Know what jobs work best with your personality type. A good career counselor can tell you. So can a variety of books. The best book I know of for this based on the MBTI is Do What You Are. (The link is to the Amazon.com page this book is sold on.) It goes through each MBTI type and lists the kinds of careers that this personality type find most agreeable.

3). Determine your temperament. There are two basic types of people in the world (with infinite variations therein). Those who process in a linear fashion and those who process in an organic or holistic fashion. Linear thinkers are far more numerous than organic thinkers. For an explanation of these terms and more about this, go here. If you’re an organic thinker, you’ll be miserable in a company made up of linear thinkers. For an example of linear thinkers, think bureaucracy. For an example of organic thinkers, think of any job that requires creativity and flexibility of thought. A linear thinker isn’t going to like working at Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and an organic thinker will go crazy at the IRS or a bank.

4). Pay attention during the interview. If you see lots of charts and hierarchy, you’re in a linear thinking organization. If you see lots of creativity and a laid back atmosphere, you have a good chance of being in an organically thinking organization. If you want structure and clear-cut duties, go to work for a linear organization. If you want flexibility and loosely defined duties, go to work for one that thinks organically.

5). Don’t listen to your family about career choice. If you’re just starting your career, or if you’re changing careers, ignore your family’s career advice. It is based on their agenda or how much money you can make, not on your happiness. Figure out where you want to go and what you want to do, then pursue it.

6). As much as possible, ignore money. And, yes, I have taken this advice myself. Money isn’t everything. While you have to pay your bills, maybe it’s time to look at ways to reduce those bills to allow yourself to work at something that will bring you deep satisfaction. How much is your happiness worth? Is it worth more than your mounds of stuff? I hope so.

7). Be real about your family’s needs. Kids need love and happy parents, not all the latest gadgets or clothes. Your spouse needs a peaceful partner, not more stuff. In evaluating your next career step or a career, look at the things that really matter in life rather than what Madison Avenue or the TV tells you matters. Chase what REALLY matters. And it isn’t a blue bank card. It is life. Live yours.

Yes, I actually do know that the economy’s in the toilet. And I also do not recommend you quit a paying job to pursue a dream until you have a new job that fits that dream. You may have to take a “daily grind” job in the meantime to pay the bills, as well. But too many people use the economy, or family, or money or whatever as an excuse not to live their lives. Stop making excuses and make your work an expression of you.