The truth is that many of us are never taught how to lead ourselves at work, in business and in life. As a result, we settle for mediocrity and dissatisfaction. Why is it that so many talented, creative people stay in jobs that make them miserable? Is it because family responsibilities must come first and the financial risks associated with leaving are too great? Is it the fear of the unknown, the comfort of the status quo? “Better the devil you know”…etc? Or is self-doubt, a lack of faith, trust…perhaps all of the above? We have a burning desire to transform professionally and personally, to alter the course of our vocation, to let go of people and situations that no longer serve us, yet we hold back. Until the level of discontent becomes greater than the fear of change; we will stay stuck, perhaps for many years.
The Towers Watson’s 2010 Global Workforce Study of over 22,000 employees in 22 markets revealed some key points regarding career change and choices. These are particularly interesting findings for anyone considering making life-altering decisions regarding one’s professional path. From their surveys, they discovered that mobility is at a decade-long low point, and many are sacrificing career growth for a secure job. Their results also indicated that confidence in leaders and managers is disturbingly low.
A recessionary environment exacerbates the feeling of helplessness, as we believe that we cannot escape our situation. When we experience enormous frustration ith our employer due to a poor relationship and lack of support from our immediate manager, we slowly begin disengaging from our work. When you add these two factors together, it is no wonder that people lose interest in what they are doing and genuinely feel stuck. How do you free yourself from the “trapped” experience?
1. Realize that self-doubt is often at the core of your fear
In the words of Anaïs Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Recognize that the opposite of fear is faith. We prefer to stay “safe” and therefore it is understandable that we can easily justify our rationale to maintain the status quo. By listing the “pros” and “cons” associated with moving in, we can get clarity around the feeling of being at an impasse.
2. Pay attention to the signs that are pointing you in another direction
When we are caught up in the fear, we often miss the signs indicating a new path. By taking the step outlined above, we will have more awareness regarding the signposts that are either subtle or flashing neon lights, guiding us elsewhere.
3. If your job and workplace aren’t going to change, it is up to you to initiate change
Staying stuck in a job or career where the situation has become untenable will invariably take a toll. Only you can decide whether that psychological toll of staying outweighs the financial risk of leaving. If you can find the momentum to re-think your attitudes and beliefs around creating change, change will happen!
Fish Jumping: Photo by Danilo Rizzuti