If you are unhappy with your current job or career direction, I’ll guess it will cross your mind at some point over the Festive break. Those daydreaming moments when you wonder if or how things will change for the better. You say to friends and family that you want to change jobs but, before you know it, you’re back at work in the same situation as before. How do you break that familiar pattern?
When motivation fuels momentum
From my coaching work, I find that people considering a job change sit somewhere on a continuum. At one end is the person who is deeply unhappy with their situation and their primary motivation is to get the hell out of there. The suffering is too great and they will do anything to escape. I’ve known people who wish they would get knocked down by a car on the way to work so they don’t have to go in.
At the other end of the scale is the person who wants to follow the yellow brick road to find their pot of happiness. Their primary motivation is towards a golden future. They look forward rather than backward. However, they don’t know how to get there.
In both cases, these people usually change jobs successfully with help because motivation is fuelling momentum.
The rocking chair effect
And then there are the people in the middle. They say they want to change jobs but their dissatisfaction with the present is not enough for them to do anything tangible other than to gently moan or wistfully sigh. The future is either too misty or not compelling enough to change things. It’s like sitting in a rocking chair where you rock forward with limp hope and then rock back gently into your comfort zone.
The chair (your job or career) has become too comfortable and familiar. But they are avoiding the real questions like:
- Why this chair now? How does it make you feel?
- What are the real reasons you stay in this chair? How honest are you being with yourself?
- What are you missing by sitting here? What is the risk if you get up?
- Is this chair enough? What if there is a better chair? How would it make you feel?
- What colour, design, size etc would it be?
- What difference would it make to your life?
- Where do you find a different chair?
- How do you get out of this chair?
Happiness cannot be pursued, it must ensue. Shawn Achors
Change perspective to change jobs
Here are three different perspectives if you are rocking backward and forward in your chair this year as you contemplate whether or not to change jobs or career:
- Pause before getting up. You could just get up and go anywhere (hand your notice in). Or, you could create headspace. Find time to understand what gets you out of bed in the morning. Where do you thrive at your best most of the time? Prevent aimless effort and have more chance of happiness when you learn to leap with purpose and on purpose. Also, check your attitude: realistic optimist (‘I’ll find a way that makes sense in my circumstances’) or realistic pessimist (‘I’ll find reasons not to’)?
- Don’t stay seated too long. Your chair could get too hot to sit in. Although Einstein said, “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got”, that’s not always true. If you do what you have always done, you can lose what you have always had (job, income, relevance, confidence, and self-esteem) as the world changes around you. Leap up before you don’t have a choice.
- Get up for renewed energy. You get a different perspective when you stand up and move around. Explore what’s around you and take a walk to see what’s out there. Look outwardly and discover who you want to help in this world. People often shift when they tap into something bigger than themselves. Even if you return to your existing chair you will feel better for it. For example, ruling things out, ideas to research, new skills to invest in, more certainty from what you now know.
So, food for thought as well as thoughts of food this Christmas. Best wishes for the festive season and I’ll see you in the new year!