I’m writing to you because I think there’s something wrong with me. I’m a 37 year old woman with a great job. I’ve been working at this company for a few years now, and I’ve been promoted twice. To everyone else it must seem like my career is on track and that I should be thrilled with my success. Instead, I feel trapped. The truth is this is the sixth place I’ve worked at since graduating from college. It’s not just that I change companies, I also change roles. I get super bored within 2 years of taking almost any job, and I start to feel the itch to try new things. The problem is as I’ve gotten a bit older, trying new things means giving up increasing amounts of stability. I know I shouldn’t be a slave to money, but I feel like I can’t have both the excitement of a new role and a stable income at the same time. I also feel like if I announce one more career change, I will be officially declared a flake by all who know me. On the other hand, I can’t imagine doing this job for the next 30 years. Help!!
Restless & Wondering
Dear Restless & Wondering,
This is quite the conundrum you’ve found yourself in. On the one hand, the pasture over the other side of the fence does often look like it might be greener. On the other hand, sometimes the pasture over the other side of the fence really IS greener. But you can’t know until you go. Or is that true?
Restless, I have more questions than answers for you. First of all, have you noticed any patterns to your career moves? For example, do they come at times of stress in your life, perhaps when your personal life is feeling taxing? Many of the humans I know make major decisions about things like family and career simply so they don’t have to make major decisions about the other things in their lives that are really bothering them. I think the first thing for you to do is take a serious assessment of your life. What’s missing? What’s not making you happy? What’s feeling unsettled?
If you can truly say that everything else in your life seems great, then I’d like to suggest the possibility that you might be bored at work because you’re more worried about making money and being successful than you are about doing something you love. This is another human beings tend to do a lot! You don’t mention anything in your letter about what your passions are, but I’m wondering if you know? From my vantage point, human beings seem to be of the belief that work should be their primary fulfillment in life, and that if their job is not aligned with their purpose it’s some kind of cosmic miss. From where I graze, this seems a bit ridiculous. I’m sure it’s great if work is your purpose in life, but I also tend to think that grazing with friends, hanging with my pasture mates, and kicking up a little dust every once in awhile is a pretty great purpose too. Maybe you hop around from job to job not because you’re a “flake” but because you’re trying to find more fulfillment in your work than necessary.
Last, but certainly not least Restless, I wouldn’t give a pile or two whether people think you’re a flake or not. Last time I checked a flake was something I ate for breakfast and it was quite delicious thank you very much. Here’s the one thing I’m sure of: People will judge you. Whether you stay. Whether you go. It’s just part of being a human. So, before you get all bent out of shape wondering about what people will think, I’d take a good, long, honest look at what you really want. It might be that other pasture in the distance. But it just as soon might not be.