December 27, 2010

Sticking It Out vs. Switching It Up In Your Career

Have you noticed how much hype there is about starting a new year? Clean slate! Fresh start! Say goodbye to all your faults and hello to the slimmer, richer, smarter you! It would be easy to sneer at all this thinly-veiled optimism but I, for one, believe the hype and buy in with my whole heart. I WANT to be slimmer, richer and smarter. Don’t you?

Of course, I understand there’s no reason to assign these DIY projects to a particular date on the calendar. Still, January is as good a month as any to identify the things in my life I want to cut loose and those things I want more of. Unfortunately, to keep the activity from becoming one big gripe session, I’ll have to make a plan. Worse yet, if I want the plan to succeed I’ll have to actually implement it. I do find griping easier than dieting, exercising or budgeting.

Ah well. One of the chief gripes my career counseling clients have is about their current jobs. Many of the people I see are currently employed, but furiously unhappy about the situation. They’re not complaining about the fact that they have to work – although I wouldn’t be surprised if that proved to be the underlying issue for some. No, mostly they’re complaining about something at the workplace itself: The boss, the assignments, the salary, the customers, the lack of promotions…you can probably fill in the blank with your own issues.

Well, good on them. By airing these gripes with a career counselor, they are at least acting positively to solve the problem. My job is to listen, reflect back their concerns and then plant a firm boot in the seat of their pants. This last part is called building an action plan, by the way. I just think of it as a boot. Sometimes the plan involves staying put while building an escape hatch (think training and networking). And sometimes the plan involves an airlift rescue mission, also called emergency job search. Once in a while, the plan even includes an old-fashioned remedy: sucking it up and making the current situation work.

It’s your turn. If you’re sick of your job, January is as good a time as any to make a plan to deal with it. Even though griping is more fun, dealing will make you slimmer, richer and smarter. I promise.

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