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4 reasons to leave a job you don’t like

Sunday, April 23, 2017  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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By Christy Consler

Recently, I was working with a client I’ll call Jill. Jill had been at her company for almost 15 years, and had built up great expertise in a specialized function.

She was making good money and seen as an important and respected leader who helped drive the revenue growth that made her company successful.

And she was miserable.

As we talked, Jill told me how she had fallen into her role by accident at the beginning of her career. As a freshly minted undergrad, she had gotten an entry-level job in this functional area. A few years in, she’d gotten married and started a family, one thing led to another and the next thing she knew it was 10 years later and she’d never gotten off this track.

Now, she was swimming in a toxic soup of discontent.

She was bored with her work: There wasn’t much stretch or learning for her. Worse still, she’d never really been interested in it.

She felt guilty because she was making good money and thought she “should” be happy (and had already far surpassed the financial success of her parents, who urged her to stay the course). 

Believe it or not, her situation is not so rare. In fact, you might be nodding your head in recognition of this scenario.

Here’s why I told Jill not to settle for a job she didn’t like. And, how to get out of feeling overwhelming and into action to fix it.

1. The longer you stay in a job you don’t like, the more financial risk.

Mailing it in gets you little to no incentive pay, and seriously diminishes the likelihood you’ll be seen as a long-term player with a future at your company. However, the more engaged and enthused you are by your work, the greater your discretionary effort and effectiveness — which lead to accelerated career growth and compensation. Companies pay to keep their top performers on their team because not only do they achieve greater results, their energy is contagious and sets the standard for what is possible.

2. You’re not throwing the baby out with the bath water.

When you take stock of all the transferable skills you’ve built through your work, you’ll realize that they can be applied in many ways. In fact, with industries changing so rapidly, you need to constantly be thinking about ways you can add value to other industries or functional areas.

You don’t have to start from ground zero. Instead, think about all the ways your skills and passions could combine to benefit others and make you money in the process.

To gain some perspective on this, I recommend asking friends and confidantes how they could see you using your skills in new ways. They will see possibilities for you that you hadn’t considered.

3. Improvement beats perfection.

Don’t worry about making the “perfect” next move. That’s too much pressure and will just lead to inertia.

Instead, develop your list of must-have’s (e.g., a certain compensation level, geography, etc.) and then your list of great-to-have’s. If you can get a couple of your great-to-have’s on your list that really excite you, and the position moves you in a positive direction, then that’s a significant improvement that will generate forward momentum in your career. 

4. Don’t look back and wonder “what if.”

I think one of the most depressing things in life would be to look back and wish that you’d given your dreams a shot. One client I worked with recently quit her executive job, despite being extremely well regarded and highly paid. She wanted to learn and grow and stretch again.

She fearlessly did the work of really exploring her passions and skills, and investigated several paths. The process was actually very enjoyable for her. And just a short time later, she had four very different, but all great, job opportunities to choose from in completely different industries.

Past NEW Board member Christy Consler is the founder and CEO of Sustainable Leadership Advisors, dedicated to creating a more sustainable future through the development of leaders driven by performance, passion and purpose. Previously she served as senior vice president, human resources and corporate sustainability for Jamba Juice and as Safeway's first vice president of sustainability. She was named one of Progressive Grocer's Top 100 Women in Grocery in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Views expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate partners

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