Should I Stay or Should I Go?

There are many reasons why people decide to change jobs. Sometimes it’s simply about moving forward on long-term goals — about having choice and options. But sometimes an individual’s desire to make a change springs from frustration and/or desperation and the need is immediate and high priority. With this second type of change a person may be looking to get away from such things as a difficult boss, an uncomfortable situation with co-workers, having been passed over for a promotion, an uncomfortable or bad review, etc. As much as we hope to avoid this type of pressure situation, it is often here that we find our greatest opportunity for personal expansion and new perspective. There is no changing anyone but ourselves and with a lack of other options, we are motivated to look more openly at who we are within the context of our work.

In line with the Zen quote, “Wherever you go, there you are,” a job offers each of us a canvas on which to display our perceptions, beliefs and habits. What we have is a mixture of thought patterns that sometimes work to support us in having what we want, and at other times can lead us into an unproductive, negative place. A snapshot, or scenario, of any given situation may look like the good, the bad or the ugly, depending on which buttons are being pushed and which patterns are at the helm.

The Good, Bad, and the Ugly

The “good” scenario shows up when we are on top of our game, such as when we feel good about our work, clear about our value and values, get the results that we want, and generally speaking, enjoy what we are doing. During these times the more positive patterns of supportive perceptions and beliefs about who we are and how the world works, lead our way. These patterns are our autopilot system and guide both our routine behavior, as well as how we approach challenges, conflict and even our goals.

The “bad” scenario may be more about when we lack something such as patience, organization, understanding, connection to our strengths, etc., and generally speaking, we lack enjoyment. In these times we are sometimes led by patterns that are comprised of limiting beliefs and unsupportive perceptions about how the world works or actually doesn’t work; about our limits and inabilities. Here again, the patterns that don’t support us in having what we want are basically invisible to us. They are an autopilot system that not only gets in our way but also keeps us from seeing how a given situation could possibly change.

The “ugly” scenario often looks like a desperate place that we need to leave immediately. This is where prospective clients are at sometimes when they call needing to make a change NOW! The resulting pattern here may look something like “fight or flight”, or “attack and control”, “go underground”, or other charming varieties we can all imagine or have experienced. Sometimes the difficulties are about situations that are simply not right for us. Regardless of the fit, in many cases, a simple shift in our own perceptions can make an enormous difference.

An example of this was when Susan (not her real name) called me to help her sort out a job change. Susan had had enough of her current position and was feeling frustration and anger with both her boss as well as those she supported. She expressed the need to change her job immediately. The pressure and frustration she was struggling with was not only getting in the way of her enjoyment of her work, but was also getting in the way of her home life (not sleeping at night, arguing with her spouse, etc.).

Through some focused coaching, she saw that “contribution” was one of her top values. She also saw that her perception and rules around what that meant and how she embraced that value in her life, were getting in her way. Once she could more clearly see that her silent patterns were preventing her from getting what she needed from her work, she was able to let go of this rule and allow herself to feel a true sense of contribution.

This is just one very specific pattern change, but what it did for Susan was significant. The following week she reported that she was feeling much better about her work and that the pressure to leave her position immediately had significantly lessened. With a critical need now addressed, she could shift from feeling desperate for a change to looking at where else she might want to get out of her own way.

For most of us, our patterns are so much a part of us they are difficult to see without some assistance in this area. If you suspect (have even an inkling), that some bad, ineffective, and maybe even ugly patterns may be leading you in your work or other aspect of your life, know that the ability to recognize them is a great doorway to creating more satisfaction and success in your life.

Steps to consider in sorting out an “ugly” scenario

  1. First, determine if it is safe to stay. Sometimes standards around safety, health, abusive co-workers, etc. put you at risk and the need to change now is very real.
  2. Decide if you would like to make the current situation better so if you decide to leave it, it would feel more like a choice rather than a desperate need. Not only do you buy yourself some time and energy around finding the next thing, you get to look more closely at the “you” that will be moving on to the next job.
  3. Chart the beliefs, perceptions, ideas and patterns that are showing up in this scenario. Notice which ones are fact and which ones are your beliefs.
  4. Think back and notice if you’ve had this kind of experience before. If you have been here before, accept the fact that it may very well be your thought patterns that have brought you here again.
  5. Consider what a new pattern might be and what you would do differently if this new pattern were leading your way.

Once your patterns are visible to you, you can recognize when they are leading you astray and begin to choose new patterns that will support you in having more of what you want. If you are in a job crisis or simply wanting more support with your goals or vision, consider hiring a coach to help you create new avenues to success.

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