In my last role before becoming a coach, I had been working for a massively growing start-up (the marketing organization grew from 8 people to 40 in two years). I was working 50-60 hours a week, traveling 50% of the time and, luckily, worked from home the rest of the time. I was the sole marketing person supporting four different senior sales teams. And one hour a week, when I did have access to my boss, she liked to use the time to complain about everyone on her team. It was by far the most challenging job I ever had but also the most lucrative. Those two typically go hand-in-hand.
If you find yourself in a similar situation where the cold grip of the golden handcuffs is getting tighter but you find yourself more disillusioned with your job by the day:
How do you decide if you should prioritize your sanity or your wallet?
This isn’t something Google can help you with. In this situation, the elusive “right answer” is unique for everyone. Here are some tips to help you think through the right choice for you.
- Stress Management- First and foremost, what are you doing to manage your stress? This isn’t a decision that’s going to be made overnight so before you burn your candle so rapidly that your flame is about to go out, think about your self-care.
What are you doing to manage your stress? To re-balance? What strategies do you have in place to blow off steam when you really feel like you’re about to explode?
If you’re not making time for stress management, chances are, you are making yourself, and those around you, miserable. Have you ever had to make a decision when you are so hungry you want to eat your hand? Well, this is similar.
You need to be able to occasionally remove the needle from your side before you can holistically consider the right path forward.
Once you’ve found some relief, let’s explore all the ways to evaluate this decision.
- From the head: How quickly are people in your industry and job function finding jobs that you find desirable?
Lucky for all of us, the unemployment rate is at an all-time low- 3.9% in December of 2018.
That’s the lowest it’s been in 49 years. This means, for several industries, there are more jobs than there are eligible candidates. If you want a better gauge of your chances to find a new role quickly, do some research on LinkedIn to see where people with similar backgrounds and years of experience have recently moved. Lots of companies are willing to match benefits or offer large signing bonuses to attract top talent. Perhaps it’s time to start warming up your network.
- From the heart: What sacrifices are you making for this job and do they align with your priorities and values?
This is a tricky one because many of us prioritize our families and we work to provide them with all the things they need to be comfortable/achieve their dreams/stand out amongst the crowd. But by working to earn funds for your family’s well-being, how does that impact the way you show up with your family? If you’re single, how does the commitment you make to your job impact the other goals you have in your life? Are they complimentary?
Take a minute to visualize…. If you stay where you are, where do you see your life and relationships in three years, in five years, in ten years? Do you like what you see? Does this current path allow you to honor ALL or MOST of your priorities?
Are you proud of the person you have and will become?
If the answer is no, it’s time to start planning your exit. If the answer is yes but…. how do you shuffle things around so you’re able to honor the majority of your values? Trust me- your company wants you to stay as much as you want to stay. Hiring and training someone new is a long and arduous process. If you’ve been there for more than a year and have proven your worth, you can start to ask for more flexibility.
- From the gut– Are you doing what you’re meant to be doing?
The very few times I forced myself to take a mental break from work and ask myself if I was happy, I found myself admitting that I had never truly enjoyed what I was doing, past the six-month honeymoon period. But it was stable and it was socially acceptable and the money was good. And that, in itself, can be a blessing. But the thought of doing the same thing for another 20+ years was DAUNTING. I knew the longer I stayed, the harder it would be to predicate the change I was secretly craving.
I noticed there were people around me who really liked what they did for a living. Their excitement was palpable and they were becoming wildly successful. As I researched, I found that people who had become successful household names spoke about this link between passion and success:
“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”
“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.”
“There is no passion to be found playing small- in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
In the end, no one can make the decision for you. But trust that, by carving out time to think through this opportunity, the right path will reveal itself. Once you get crystal clear on where you want to go, it’s amazing how things start to fall into place. But only you have the power to change the course you are on. Start with self-care, create clarity, check in with your head, your heart and your gut and either create the change you’re craving or reframe to embrace the life you have. You have the power to find happiness in all parts of your life.
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