When you start a new job, how do you know it’s going to be The One? You know, the one and only job you’ll ever need, that makes you feel special every day, that you fall asleep dreaming of and wake up excited about. Well, my guess is, you don’t.
You might feel there’s a great fit between the company culture and your personal style, you might share some values, they might even have dress-down days and a beer fridge for Friday afternoons. But it’s not until you’re spending 40 hours a week somewhere that you really get to know it, and decide whether you’re a match made in heaven.
So here are some scenarios for you newbies who have a fresh start to make on Monday morning. Try to keep your eyes open, your critical mind sharp, and be ready to recognise true love when it appears.
You know the place – you went for a sixty minute interview and stayed three hours. You and your new boss have so much in common! You like the same bars, you went to the same university, you even know some of her friends. And the office? So cool! It has table tennis, vending machines stocked with fresh fruit and an Ideas Pod where you get to lie down, take your shoes off and think about Important Stuff.
That does sound pretty sweet – but Woah, Nelly. Are you a shoes-off table-tennis playing kind of person? Or have you just been thoroughly seduced by the cool lighting and the funky music piped into every room? Many of us would be swayed by appearances here, but in truth the novelty value can’t compare to working for a company where you share values, purpose and ideas about what constitutes a good work-life balance.
You saw the advert for this job and thought it sounded…ok. It wasn’t going to set your ambition alight or anything, but it was a good fit for your skills and didn’t seem like it would ask too much of you – no weekends, no pulling all-nighters, no crazy team building up a mountain somewhere.
So you turned up in your second-best suit, with one eye on the new jobs posted online that morning and to your surprise, you’re suddenly all sorts of comfortable. The office space is comfortable, the job is more varied than you had hoped, and your team are really welcoming. Yes, you could easily sleepwalk through the next ten years here. But is that what you really dreamed of when you were starting out?
You got to your desk, sat down and felt immediately that you’d come home – and yet, you didn’t feel completely comfortable. You felt caught off guard, excited, hopeful that you would be good enough. At night your iphone is glued to your hand as every email that lands in your inbox gives you ten ideas about how you can do things better. There’s no-one you’d rather have a hot date with right now than Your New Job.
Congratulations, you’ve found The One. But, like any relationship, if it’s going to last you can’t get complacent. So pace yourself – it’s all well and good raising your hand at every opportunity going in the first months when everything is exciting and new, but you won’t be able to sustain that over the years.
And nor should you – there’s a quote by novelist Louis de Bernieres that says ‘Love itself is what is left over when being IN love has burned away.’ What he’s saying is that the falling in love phase is necessarily short – it’s exciting, stressful, wild and ultimately, unsustainable – and what’s left over is the contented, happy, life you’ve built.
So once you know you’ve found The One, think about building the foundations that will sustain the relationship long into the future. And once your plans are in place, you’ve got a long and happy life ahead of you. Happy Valentine’s Day.