A few weeks ago, I got an email from a friend who told me that he didn’t like his current job, but because of the shiny brand name of the company by which he was employed, he said he’d hang on for a few months longer until the time frame looked good on his resume.
Does this sound familiar? I’m sure you’ve said this to yourself at one point or another, “I’m just biding my time and when I can, I’ll just jump ship.”
I wasn’t surprised by my friend’s strategy. Many young and mature professionals say and do this type of stuff: They collect their paychecks, take the ‘credential’ and run, hopefully to a better job. Unfortunately, what my friend isn’t necessarily aware of is that this type of behavior and thinking sets us up for failure. Why?
Get Out of Survival Mode
This type of negative mentality is dangerous because we get caught up in “survival mode”. We just try to get through the day without “wanting to kill someone”. We stay at the job because we “have no other choice” and we deal with it because “it’s a living”.
Everything I’ve said in quotation marks is an example of the type of dangerous thinking that keeps us in a negative mental state. Instead of seeing work as an opportunity to do our best, to serve others, and to accomplish a purpose, we see our work as a burden, slavery, and life waster. We take this type of mentality with us to our next job and we repeat the cycle. Break it!
Trade Negative Perceptions For The “Leave Behind & Take Away” Mentality
When I coach clients who are working on transitioning from one job to another through a job search, I ask them to take a look at their current situation as a stepping stone and as an opportunity to “leave behind and take away”. My leave behind and take away mentality goes like this:
Ask yourself, “What can I leave behind in terms of a legacy, a reputation, and contributions to this company, my colleagues, and my work? What can I take away as lessons – personal and professional skills and knowledge – for the next step in my career?”
I ask my clients to make a list of take away and leave behind. Some have answered like this:
- Lessons on management skills
- Understanding my job function better in order to explain it to prospective employers
- Knowing how the company works compared to others in the same field
- Accomplished a few goals relevant to the next job I’m after
- Connections and friendships with a few key individuals you’d like to remain in contact with after I’ve gone
- A positive learning experience and memory of my work
- A solid skill set and understanding of my abilities, strengths, and weaknesses
- A stellar reputation
- Quality work performance
- Respect and service for my colleagues
- Exceptional service to my clients and customers
- Positive contributions to the work environment
- Accomplished work goals, even if I made a small difference
Create A Strategy
Now, with a fresh perspective and a new paradigm, it’s easy to move forward to creating a strategy for moving on to the next job or step in your career. The goal is finding a new job with a few objectives that will get you there from your current position.
Depending on what you want to leave and what you want to take away in relation to the next job you want, creating objectives will help you better structure your time and give you a renewed sense of purpose to your work. You’re no longer slaving away and biding time, you’re actually working toward something that allows you to do your best with all you have.
Focus on what you need to accomplish, turn your language around, and see each negative colleague, tough customer, bad management experience into ways you can turn them around into a learning experience. If possible, document what you’ve learned, because these lessons will come in handy during future interviews. Write down what you’ve accomplished at work, so that you can put them on your resume and can negotiate your salary according to your experience and knowledge.
Instead of avoiding colleagues and ignoring clients, take the social challenges head on and experience them one by one. The experience – failures and successes – will help you know where you’re strong and where you’re weak in terms of people and client management. This self knowledge can help you develop your weaknesses and boost your strengths, as well as communicate your own management style to future managers and employees.
Don’t get hung up on failures and mistakes. We’re all constantly learning what works for us and what doesn’t. Chalk up failures to experience and identify what you can do next time and what can be left behind. Constructive learning experiences happen through our mistakes, not just our successes.
Keep asking yourself, “What can I learn here?” and “What can I take away from this situation?” Asking yourself self exploratory questions that encourage you to take a step back and objectively see your work gives us the courage to keep pushing through, because we know there is something that can be learned for future use.
Go Forward With Purpose
Changing our paradigm takes time plus mental and physical effort. We must force ourselves to shake off the old ways of seeing career building and working and turn them into opportunities for service and growth.
Go from looking at your professional past as simply “I did my time” to “I made a difference.” Go from “All I got was this lousy paycheck,” to “I know a lot more about myself and my career.”
There are bad jobs, horrible bosses, poor salaries, and terrible work environments. These are situations we’ve made our way into and it’s up to us – and nobody else – to learn from it and make our way out with more self-awareness in order to continue pursuing our dreams. A negative paradigm only sets us up for failure and dooms us to repeated cycles. Take on a fresh perspective and go forward with purpose toward having your dream job.
Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici via freedigitalphotos.net