Alan never noticed as the golden handcuffs closed on his career. The soft click as they locked was muffled by the constant inner chatter of his mind. Not at all an unpleasant chatter, just like the shiny gold didn’t look unpleasant either. Happy, busy chatter. But one day as he looked out of the window at another one flying past, in a moments reverie said (to himself, so quietly that even he almost didn’t hear it) “I hate this job.”
And once the thought was formed, he started arguing with it. “It’s a good job, in a great company. Other people are clamouring at the door to get in, so why on earth would I want to get out? Ah, there are bad days, stressful days, when I don’t see the kids before they are asleep; at least there is good healthy food on the table and holidays in Cornwall every summer and that New Zealand trip to look forward to…”
What he didn’t notice was that all the arguments made logical sense but not emotional – soul – sense.”Everyone gets migraines now and then, don’t they?” He thought. “But I couldn’t possibly leave, there’s my final salary pension to think about…”
Does any of this resonate with you? It could be my own story of a career and a life trapped in the biggest tech co in the world. But it never got better – until I challenged those handcuffs and realised that they didn’t actually exist! Looking back there are a couple of things I could have done differently it would have made it’s different. I could have held my own annual appraisal that reconnected me to my personal dreams. These were ‘parked’ when I had arrived at BigTechCo because I’d invested so much effort over eight years to get there. I literally stopped, at the top of my mountain. For 12 years.
Next time, I will see the mountains for what they are – a steppingstone to another place. You may be climbing a mountain now or maybe abseiling down to the foothills again; to recharge and climb another one. It’s too easy to make the mistake of admiring the view from anywhere for too long. Keep your eye on growth; new dreams; new vistas.
And how do you know when the time is right to move on? Perhaps it’s when another beautiful sunset goes unmarked or another steak disappears, and you think “oh that was nice…” instead of seeing the glory of the sunset, and being amazed by the taste.
To keep it fresh, reconnect with your highest goals. We must take time to reflect – on what’s gone on, what’s going on, and when it’s time to move on. Part of that reflection comes from getting some external viewpoints; true, open and honest feedback, from other people; and then a simple action plan to change things.
So today your challenge is to become curious about what’s really going on for you and for other people involved in your career. If your organisation does appraisals ineffectively, and you long for some actionable feedback, then you will have to take ownership for that.
Remember: those handcuffs are only strong as you make them.
If you’re interested in doing something about your career today, click here to get a free report on improving your job in 7 days.