Surprise Decisions

Our house has lots of stairs, a total of three flights. Recently I got a bug in my ear about moving to a home on a single level  so I made a list of everything I wanted in a new place and attended a number of Open Houses. I hated everything.

Later I sat down with our real estate broker and asked about possibilities in our community. I left the meeting feeling depressed. Repeatedly I told friends I loved it right where we are but I had to hear myself say it many times before it finally sank in – we need to stay as long as we can and appreciate everything about it, including the health benefits of climbing stairs numerous times a day. I’m not sorry I spent time looking at other places; it was a big help. Although staying was an obvious answer, right smack in front of my nose, it felt like a surprise when I finally saw it.

What does this have to do with work?

Many clients go through a similar process in a job hunt. They arrive at a first meeting full of complaints, convinced they want a different job even though sometimes they have no idea what they want to do. All they know is that they want a change. So they begin a process of exploring.

First it’s internal, looking at what they love to do and the talents, skills, and abilities they bring to it. Then it’s external to learn what opportunities might exist. Weeks later, very surprised, some of them announce that they’ve decided to stay right where they are.

Is this decision a failure?

I used to think choosing to stay was a failure, but I don’t any more. Going through an exploration is never a waste of time. People are enriched by it. They enlarge their network and learn a lot. When some clients discover what it would take to make a career or job change, they admit they’re not willing to do it. Others find out that their idea of work in a different arena doesn’t match up with reality or the pay is not sufficient to meet their needs. Some clients conclude that what they consider a passion will remain one only if they keep it as a hobby. These are all legitimate reasons to stay and not leave.

At the end of this process clients are left with the realization that their current job and/or company is far better than they thought, especially compared to what they investigated. They’ve learned that “all that glitters is not gold,” as my client says about the well-known company he works for currently.

I consider it a good outcome when clients return to their jobs more energized and committed than before. Sometimes the grass is not only not greener, it’s just grass, and we end up having a deeper appreciation for what we already have.

If you decide to stay

If you stay, do it with conviction. Work on making it a good place to be. Figure out how to turn your current job  into a great one. Ask yourself, on a scale of 1 to 10, what’s my score right now? Then ask, what’s missing to make it a 10? Instead of complaining to your boss, make specific requests to improve the quality of your experience. Ask for or volunteer for work that will allow you to grow and develop. Intentionally expand and nurture your network. Practice gratitude. If possible, focus on doing the work you love and enjoy.

Just know that staying doesn’t always mean you’re giving up or succumbing to resignation. Sometimes it’s the best decision, even though you’re surprised by it, and can lead to many more good years at your job.

Keep thriving,

PS.  Have you read Thrive: The Entrepreneurial Path to a Great Life, my new book? You can order it from Amazon.com in a print or Kindle version: Need an inspiring program for your company or association? I can lead a mini-workshop based on the book – 2 hours or less in length. Here’s what a past participant wrote: “I just wanted to tell you your presentation was honest, insightful and hilarious. I got a lot out of it, as did the other participants.”

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