I left my first post-graduate school job for a different one about a year after starting. Two years later, and I parted ways with that one, too. I know what you may be thinking—ah, the typical millennial who’s never satisfied and complains about everything. It’s OK if you think that. In fact, I thought the same thing for a while. “Maybe I’m the problem” played on repeat in my head, and I convinced myself I wasn’t a hard worker and would never be happy working anywhere.
But I don’t believe that anymore. What I do believe is that you deserve to be happy with your work most of the time. And, in addition, you need to work to be happy at your job. An opportunity you absolutely love will most likely not just fall into your lap. So part of working for it means not up and quitting as soon as times get tough, to move onto the next best thing. Instead it means examining the current role you’re in (as well as those from the past) and figuring out precisely why it’s not a good fit for you.
And I did just that, which is why I don’t regret leaving two gigs in the span of three years. Because I used each of those experiences to help shape the next one, bringing me closer and closer to the ideal position for me.
In order to get the most out of each opportunity, even ones you end up hating, you must dig deeper. You must pick apart every single aspect to figure out what’s making you dread going into the office each day. You can start this process by literally creating a “pros and cons” list and filling it in throughout a typical workweek. Look for patterns—everything that involves organization falls into a pro; everything that involves your micromanaging boss does not.
There’s nothing too small to go on this list. Because at the end of the exercise, you can use the pro column as your “ideal job description” to be matched up against real listing. And you can use the con column as red flags to keep an eye out for in interviews.
But before you put in your two weeks, do this:
Figure Out If You Can Fix The Problem
I probably don’t have to tell you this, but job searching’s hard. It takes time, effort and the ability to bounce back from rejection. You can’t put it off forever, but you also shouldn’t put yourself through it unless it’s actually necessary. (Unless you’re the type of person who likes to get root canals just for fun—then go for it!)
Instead, look at that pros and cons list and zero in on the aspect of your current position that bothers you most. Perhaps it’s only one big thing, and you’ll be able to change it.
For example, my good friend works as a seminar manager for a leadership-focused nonprofit. One of her main responsibilities is to organize all the materials needed for each conference. Before she started, all handouts, readings and articles were saved in hard copy versions (and no, she didn’t start in the ’90s. She started two years ago).
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Categories: Money Matters