If You’re Miserable in Your Job, Relationship or Environment, This Might Be Why


The importance of fit eluded me for many years. And my happiness and productivity definitely suffered.

Usually we use the word "fit" to describe clothes, but the same idea works for our lives too.

In fashion, fit is all about how well things suit your particular shape and frame.

A well-fitted shirt and pair of jeans, for example, can make you feel confident, fun, sexy, and at ease.

An ill-fitting pair of shoes are another story. They pinch, squeeze, and scrape your skin raw until you can’t even walk.

Think about the most ill-fitting piece of clothing you have in your wardrobe right now. Now think about how happy you feel at the end of the day when you get to take it off!

What came first to mind for me are a pair of royal blue summer shorts in my closet. The ones with the too-tight waistband and that always ride up.

Wearing them for multiple days would be utter misery. I would be in the worst mood. No doubt I’d be so uncomfortable, I wouldn’t be able to even think about anything else.

Why haven’t I gotten rid of them sooner?

Oh, for the usual reasons. They're so cute. They're the best shade of blue. Plus, I bought them on a whim at full price, and since they’re not that comfortable, I've hardly gotten enough use out of them to justify throwing them out.

Usually, when tempted to get rid of them, I fall back on the idea that maybe if I lose a little weight, they’ll fit nicely, and I can finally enjoy them.

This back and forth has been going on eight years. That's how long I've had them.

Can you believe that this happens in our lives too?

When we're miserable and stuck, the culprit is often a bad fit.

Two stories to illustrate how I see this come up:

JOBS and CAREER: Tomoko is an attorney. She makes great money and her family approves of her profession. She’s really good at her work, but she doesn’t like it. She’d make a change, but she’s invested so much in this profession (time and money especially, in her education). Plus, other people will think she’s foolish.

ENVIRONMENT: James grew up in Seattle and all his family is there. Every winter, he struggles with seasonal blues. The rain and darkness are so gloomy. He dreads it. He would love to live somewhere sunnier but it would mean leaving his family and they’d be upset. Plus, does it really make sense to uproot his life for something as trivial as sun? Seattle has a lot of other things going for it; James loves the mountains and forests. Obviously other people deal with this, he should be able to as well.*

*Maybe it’s because I’m from the Pacific Northwest, but I hear this one so much! Especially, and totally unexpectedly, from the people I’ve interviewed for my podcast. A surprising number of sabbatical-takers relocated to sunnier places (myself included). It’s no small thing apparently.

There are three basic ways to deal with a bad fit.

Prevent: Taking time out of life to really think about what is a good fit for you; what you really want; and how to make intentional changes to create that for you.

Mitigate: Looking at the parts of your bad fit that you could tweak, diminish, or compensate for, creatively and strategically.

Move on: Deciding this isn’t good for you, and you’re going to be extra brave and stand up for what’s best for you. You cut your losses – even if it means a taking a big leap.

In coaching, I work with people in all these areas, often simultaneously.

One of the sneakiest things about a bad fit is that usually we’re so deep into it, we can’t see the huge toll it’s having on us – and how much better life would be if we had work, an environment, and relationships that were a better fit.

We often don’t validate our own feelings about the bad fit, and choose to keep downplaying it and not dealing with it.

Instead of stepping back and saying, “Hey, this isn’t good for me, time to get out of this situation!”

We instead say, “Hey, I’m not doing good enough with this! The fault’s with me, I need to keep trying to change myself to make it work.”

This is the worst, of course: Squeezing ourselves into something that doesn’t fit, and then blaming ourselves for not being able to pull it off successfully.

What in life is restricting, pinching, or bothering you to no end? How is it not the right fit for you?

At this moment in time, what feels like the best strategy for you? Prevention, mitigation or moving on?

This week, my husband and I are celebrating our four year anniversary – which for me, is celebrating finally finding someone who really fit me.

That journey took so long, and involved so much heartbreak, confusion, and trial and error. Until I finally set aside real time to articulate what kind of person was the right fit, started looking for him, and invested in our relationship when we did find each other.

Now, the rewards of that are so clear, in the life we’re creating together full of love, family, support, companionship and growth.

I didn’t used to think about fit. I spent many years blaming myself for situations that weren’t working out well. I didn’t take time out to figure out what would actually be good for me. I was often too scared to cut my losses and take a stand for what I really wanted.

But I’ve been working on it – a lot – over the last 10 years and have seen some amazing results.

And I’m still working on it. I'm headed to the closet now. Buh-bye blue shorts!

Want to talk about the changes you suspect you need to make in your life? Grab a free 20-minute consult with me here.